Intel has been given planning permission by An Bord Pleanala for a significant extension to its base in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

This could be used to build the next generation of computer chips.

There has been no decision on whether the project will be located in Ireland, but the granting of planning permission means the Kildare plant has cleared the planning hurdles in the event that US-based Intel decides to locate the operation in Ireland.

The extension could create hundreds of jobs if the project proceeds. It will manufacture 14 nanometer processors - the next generation of computer chips which are more powerful than the chips Intel currently produces.

Ireland is not the only site which is in the race to land the business as two existing Intel operations in Arizona and Oregon are also in the running.

Intel employs 4,500 staff in Leixlip and more than 200 staff in Shannon.