Microprocessor maker Intel Corp. says it is starting a company to manufacture and supply photovoltaic cells for makers of solar panels.

Intel, the world's largest computer-chip maker, said Monday that it will create an independent company called SpectraWatt Inc. that will be based in Hillsboro, Ore. Intel is seeking to capitalize on demand for solar technology, an industry the chipmaker said will grow 30 percent to 40 percent annually.

Intel's global investment arm, Intel Capital, is leading a $50 million investment round in the startup. Other investors include Cogentrix Energy, a subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group; PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund and Solon AG.

Solon, a German solar-cell maker, bought about 16 percent of SpectraWatt. The PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund specializes in renewable energy and is managed by PCG Asset Management LLC, an investment company based in La Jolla, Calif.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter this year, and the project is scheduled to break ground in the second half of 2008, with shipments to begin by mid-2009.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said it employs 300 workers in Riverton and approximately 1,800 workers in its Lehi-based joint venture with Micron Technology, IM Flash Technologies.