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, the world's largest chipmaker, said Thursday it is temporarily suspending construction of a $2.2 billion expansion at a plant in Ireland, citing the need to cut costs in a "very difficult" year.

According to


reporting from Europe, the Santa Clara, Calif., company said it will lay off about 1,400 construction workers, but that the project would be resumed next year, with all the workers back on site by mid-2002.

Intel also reportedly said it would not be cutting back on the overall investment in its "state-of-the-art factory" and that it was already "way ahead on the construction schedule." Intel plans to spread out the $2 billion investment over a longer period of time.

Tangled deep in the tech slowdown, the chipmaker has faced a glut of problems, including a revenue shortfall that it

warned about last week. And today's news follows yesterday's

announcement that Intel plans to reorganize its communications product group and its network communications group into one business unit. The company, which started cutting spending earlier this quarter with a hiring freeze, also admitted there could be cost savings from the move. Intel announced last week said it would cut 5,000 jobs through attrition by the end of 2001.

Shares of Intel closed at $29.06 on the

Nasdaq Wednesday, and recently were off 3.1% to $28.45 in preopen