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A new 'mega-lab' will research new cooling systems aimed at reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION: INTEL CORP. - An architectural rendering of the new mega lab announced in Hillsboro. It will, in part, research new cooling systems that the company says will reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Intel announced on Thursday, May 19, that it will build a $700 million "mega-lab" at its Jones Farm campus in Hillsboro.

The lab will research the company's data center heating and cooling systems, aiming to reduce energy consumption and lessen environmental impacts. Data centers use approximately 1% of the world's electricity, Intel's announcement notes, and contribute to global carbon emissions.

The new 200,000-square-foot mega-lab is slated to open late next year, and local officials touted the expansion of Oregon's largest private employer.

"Our partnership has been in place for decades, and this latest $700 million investment positions our community — the City of Hillsboro and the State of Oregon — well into the future as the central location for Intel's research and development," said Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway in a statement. "It also demonstrates how these facilities and the semiconductor industry in Oregon are leading and directly contributing to local and global technology solutions focusing on climate resiliency."

He also mentioned that the expansion, and the problems it seeks to address, also highlights the importance of Oregon's newly formed Semiconductor Taskforce, on which Callaway sits, along with other state politicians and members of Intel's research and executive teams.

One of the plans announced for the new lab is a liquid cooling system, which would submerge computers and semiconductor chips in a solution that doesn't conduct electricity and instead absorbs heat from the units.

Intel says this system could reduce carbon emissions by 45%. It hopes to implement the new technology, first developed in Taiwan, at all of its data centers and manufacturing facilities.

Hillsboro's economic and community development director, Dan Dias, called on the federal government to recognize the community's role as a national leader in semiconductor research and investment.

"This project also exemplifies why (this region is) the national semiconductor innovation hub and should be a focus of federal consideration for further investment and support to maintain the United States' and the State of Oregon's global leadership within this critical industry," Dias said in a statement. "There continues to be immense opportunity for the Portland region and the State of Oregon to capture investments from this active industry that are Oregon's to win or lose."

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have recently passed spending bills aimed at subsidizing the American chip manufacturing industry, but the bills varied in amounts and deliveries of the money. They must be reconciled before federal funds are distributed.

Intel's announcement is just the latest in a spate of new investments in Hillsboro. Last month, the company celebrated the opening of its new D1X fabrication center, the final part of a three-phase expansion of its chip production and research.

Its chief executive officer, Pat Gelsinger, recently committed to even more investments in expanding the company's operations in Oregon.

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