IM Flash opens new fab facility in Lehi
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert laughs while cutting the ribbon on Building 60 at IM Flash in Lehi Nov. 14, 2017.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony at IM Flash in Lehi Nov. 14, 2017.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and IM Flash executives chat after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Lehi location's new expansion Nov. 14, 2017.
The ribbon cutting Monday for IM Flash’s new fabrication wing in Lehi was a rare and unique celebration.
“We generally don’t let anybody in our clean rooms,” said Bert Blaha, co-CEO of IM Flash. “But you guys are special.”
IM Flash is a joint venture between Micron Technology and Intel Corporation, and executives from both companies held Monday’s ceremony just inside Building 60, the newest section of IM Flash. All visitors, including Gov. Gary Herbert, suited up in booties, hairnets and gloves to participate in the event. Marc Musgrove, head of global public relations for Micron, said they timed the event for that unique time when the new building was complete, but the automated robotic tools are not yet installed. Once those systems are in place, the room will be deemed a “clean room,” and anyone who enters must don a head-to-toe body suit.
According to Brian Verwer, director of public affairs for IM Flash, the facility’s clean rooms are 100 times cleaner than hospital operation rooms. Workers wear “bunny suits”, to control the millions of microscopic particles that are emitted from the human body, which can disrupt the production of the company’s microchips.
IM Flash built the new expansion in anticipation of manufacturing demand for IM Flash’s newest product, 3D XPoint, a building block of Intel’s Optane and Micron’s upcoming QuantX technologies. IM Flash began manufacturing 3D XPoint in 2015, and is in the process of switching over Lehi’s manufacturing systems from NAND flash memory fully to 3D XPoint products.
NAND was first developed more than 25 years ago as the first non-volatile storage technology that does not require power to retain data. According to David Cheffings, IM Flash co-CEO, 3D XPoint is a revolutionary breakthrough in non-volatile memory technology — capable of both memory and storage and extremely fast. And IM Flash is the only one in the world making this product.
“Our team has pride being involved in the newest technology being manufactured here in the United States,” Cheffings said.
Utah’s Silicon Slopes has garnered national fame for its data technology companies dotting the Wasatch Front. But IM Flash is manufacturing the products that make analyzing, storing and disseminating data possible.
“Just remember, IM Flash is the silicon in Silicon Slopes,” Blaha said.
“Data is exploding,” added Marc Musgrove, Micron head of global public relations. “Every minute nearly half the world’s population is on the internet. Every new break-through in intelligence — all of those use more and more memory.”
A couple thousand workers support the IM Flash operation in Lehi, and the company’s executives partner with local school districts, colleges and universities to continuously feed the pipeline needed for skilled engineers. IM Flash supports mathematics clubs in Alpine School District and science, technology, engineering and math programs throughout the state. They also fund scholarships for robotics and engineering students in most of the local higher education systems.
Herbert lauded IM Flash’s presence in the heart of Silicon Slopes, saying that 3D XPoint will be a boon to many industries, from gaming to the medical fields. “And it’s coming from right here out of Lehi,” he concluded.