The iconic TI-81 calculator may be gathering dust, but Texas Instruments, now a multiplying force in semiconductor manufacturing, is looking to add to Utah business with the purchase of the Micron Technology microchip fabrication plant in Lehi for $900 million in cash.

Rumors about the Micron facility’s sale had been swirling for weeks ahead of the announcement.

“This investment continues to strengthen our competitive advantage in manufacturing and technology and is part of our long-term capacity planning,” Texas Instruments chairman, president and CEO Rich Templeton said in a statement.

Micron said the economic value of the sale for the company includes $900 million in cash from Texas Instruments in the sale transaction and $600 million from liquidation of select tools and other assets.

“Micron’s Lehi, Utah, facility has a strong history of technology innovation and leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing,” said Micron President/CEO Sanjay Mehrotra in a statement. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Texas Instruments as it is an industry leader and truly values the talented Lehi team and the capabilities this site offers to deploy its technology effectively.

“We are greatly appreciative of the contributions that the Lehi team has made to Micron, as well as the collaboration and engagement Micron has had with the local community.”

All the way back in the mid-’90s, long before the moniker Silicon Slopes was applied to Utah’s burgeoning tech community in northern Utah County, semiconductor giant Micron Technology was busy making advanced electronics out of silicon.

While big plans for Micron’s $1.3 billion facility, which includes multiple buildings with over 2 million square feet of space a few miles east of I-15 in Lehi, didn’t immediately come to fruition, a deal with Intel in the mid-2000s to produce Flash memory for Apple products turbocharged the project.

Micron bought out longtime partner IM Flash in 2019 and in a Deseret News story about the sale, Scott DeBoer, Micron executive vice president of technology development, said the Lehi Micron plant had borne a direct benefit from the dozens of new tech companies that have sprung up in the area in the years since the facility opened.

“This has grown into a very substantial area of talent for Micron over a number of years,” DeBoer said. “It’s a place that is appealing for Micron team members to live … and it’s a place where we can attract talent.”

For most of the duration of the IM Flash partnership, that talent was engaged in developing and manufacturing NAND Flash memory products. In 2015, Micron and Intel announced a new product, 3D XPoint, that would perform 1,000 times faster and have up to 1,000 times more endurance than NAND flash. It would also have 10 times the storage density of conventional memory.

Sumit Sadana, Micron executive vice president and chief business officer, said the product is designed to become the memory/data storage solution for the computing processes of tomorrow.

“If you think about where we are headed in the future, applications will be employing more and more functions reliant on artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Sadana said. “Cloud computing applications are already focused in these areas … and it’s just a huge amount of data involved.”

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A Texas Instruments spokeswoman said the new owners plan on extending job offers to the current employees at the Lehi plant, which numbered around 1,700 in 2019.

“All Lehi site employees will be offered the opportunity to become Texas Instruments employees upon closing of the sale later this year,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are excited about the engineering experience and technical skills the team brings in ramping and manufacturing advanced semiconductors.

“Texas Instruments and Micron are well aligned in our values, culture and rich history of technology innovation and manufacturing excellence. We look forward to getting to know and becoming a part of the Lehi community.”

Texas Instruments said it plans to complete the sale by the end of this year.

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