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Patience, focus key in landing deal

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As president of the College on Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Alain Kaloyeros will be presiding over a major expansion with Tuesday's announcement of billions in new research investments. The college will employ more than 3,500 people by 2013, when all systems are up and running.

We talked with Kaloyeros about details on the deal and how it went down.

Q.: These negotiations have been going on over a year. What was it like?

A.: The governor, before he became governor, started working on it with the speaker (Sheldon Silver). There was a number of meetings with key officials from Intel, Samsung, TSMC, from IBM and Global Foundries, and I must say that the governor's skill set at herding the cats and the speaker's patience in dealing with the cats, when you combine those two, were very effective in getting companies that have never worked together -- let alone be on the stage together -- to agree on a program ... They had quite impressive incentives in Europe and in China, and the fact that the governor and speaker were involved spoke volumes about the level of state interest and engagement. That was, I think, a key piece of what kept the dialogue going and put the deal in place.

Q.: The NanoCollege has focused on innovation on specific chips, but never on the manufacturing process. That's a major part of this announcement, so what will you be looking at?

A.: The transition from 300-millimeter wafers to 450 wafers forces the industry to come back together and basically now look at the building implications, the weight of the tools, all the automation, all the gas and chemical handlings, the energy consumption, the cost of the fabs, what's the weight on the floors, how do you integrate chemicals that have to be parts per billion pure, delivery into the tools, all the information technology and computer interfaces you need for all the new automation. How do you transport these wafers, because you can't carry them anymore. Each question is an industry sector that's going to migrate to be with the people building the fabs, the five companies, here.

Q.: The deal's not signed, but those five companies -- Intel, IBM, Global Foundries, Samsung and TSMC -- have committed to build at least one 450-millimeter plant in New York. How solid is that?

A.: If history has taught us anything, those companies want to cluster their fabs near where this infrastructure is being implemented. At this point no one, even the companies, can commit to a fab -- we don't know what the fab is going to look like, or what the cost of the fab is going to be ... They've agreed in principal that once the initiative reaches a certain maturity, that one of those fabs has to be in New York. But I suspect, as opposed to mandating to the companies -- it's kind of like dating. New York is going to be so attractive for these companies in the 450 that it wouldn't make sense for them to put their fabs anywhere else.


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