Friday Jun 02, 2023

Intel to sell historic Massachusetts R&D site to developer – The Register


As Intel gets ready to build fabs in Arizona and Ohio, the x86 giant is planning to offload a 149-acre historic research and development site in Massachusetts that was once home to the company’s only chip manufacturing plant in New England.

An Intel spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday to The Register it plans to sell the property. The company expects to transfer the site to a new owner, a real-estate developer, next summer, whereupon it’ll be torn down completely.

The site is located at 75 Reed Rd in Hudson, Massachusetts, between Boston and Worcester. It has been home to more than 800 R&D employees, according to Intel. The spokesperson told us the US giant will move its Hudson employees to a facility it’s leasing in Harvard, Massachusetts, about 13 miles away.

Kristina Johnson, Hudson’s director of planning and community development, told us the buyer of Intel’s Hudson property is Atlanta-based real-estate developer Portman Industrial, which intends to demolish the site’s two office buildings and build a logistics warehouse for an undisclosed company.

A site of historical significance

The Hudson site holds significance in the history of America’s computer industry as it was built by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1979, when DEC and other tech companies based around Massachusetts’ Route 128 corridor rivaled those in Silicon Valley.

DEC’s Hudson site was home to two R&D buildings and one chip manufacturing plant, where “it built the most sophisticated microprocessors in the world” in the 1980s, as one former employee put it.  

At its peak, DEC was once the world’s second-largest computer maker, after IBM, and it was Massachusetts’ largest private-sector employer in 1989, according to a retrospective by the Boston Globe.

However, after making billions for years on minicomputers — general-purpose computers that were cheaper than mainframes — DEC fizzled out in the 1990s as minicomputers fell out of favor. In 1998 Compaq acquired DEC for $9 billion and then a few years later sold itself to HP for $25 billion.

Intel gives DEC’s fab a run

DEC’s Hudson site eventually ended up in the hands of Intel as the result of a legal settlement between the two over alleged patent infringements.

Intel maintained the fab in Hudson for more than a decade, producing 200mm wafers for chipsets and other products, until it decided in 2013 to shut it down because the property wasn’t “big enough” to accommodate equipment to manufacture leading-edge chips.

The processor maker then spent a few years trying to sell the fab, but after getting no interest, it demolished the plant in 2015.

Ever since then, the Hudson site has been home to R&D employees, who, after mostly switching to remote work for a time during the pandemic, will not call it home for much longer. ®

We’d like to thank our New England reader who tipped us off to Intel’s Hudson plans. If you have any other information you’d like to share, you can always email us in confidence.


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