No one has said Patrick Gelsinger is timid. A month after Intel’s CEO term, he announced an ambitious plan to move Intel’s chip manufacturing efforts forward rather than give up.
Naysayers and experts said Intel should abandon its manufacturing business, just as AMD spun out its fabs to GlobalFoundries more than a decade ago. Intel’s fabs are lagging behind the cutting edge, and Intel was struggling to reach 10nm while TSMC foundries were making 7nm chips for AMD.
Now, bleep it, Gelsinger said (OK, maybe not). Instead of spinning off the foundry business, Intel has set up an independent unit within the company called the Foundry Services and, like other Intel divisions, has its own income statement. Therefore, in addition to manufacturing Intel chips, Intel Foundry Services also manufactures chips for other semiconductor companies.
Intel has invested $ 20 billion in two separate chip fabs with state-of-the-art lithography equipment at its facility in Chandler, Arizona. This is not far from where TSMC is expected to open the fab, and after a few years of delay, the long-delayed 10-nanometer manufacturing process will eventually go live.
Arizona is very popular with chip makers because it goes beyond abundant and cheap land.Arizona is a site 113 quartz mines, By far the largest number in the United States. Semiconductor grade silicon is usually made of quartz rather than sand. Sand contains silicon dioxide, but it is rich in impurities.
Intel isn’t the only one. Gelsinger announced when and where the company will expand its foundry capabilities in the United States and elsewhere in Europe and announce it by the end of the year.
Intel Foundry Services will be led by Randhir Thakur, a veteran executive currently responsible for Intel’s supply chain operations. He is also active in semiconductor manufacturing equipment manufacturers Applied Materials and SanDisk.
Many American chip makers have asked the Biden administration for a grant to build a factory in the United States. There are some fabs besides Intel, but they are nothing compared to Taiwan and South Korea. Also, neither region is known for its political stability.
Gelsinger said in a statement that Intel would get support from the federal government and Arizona for its foundry. “”We are excited to partner with Arizona and Biden. amanagement About incentives to spur this kind of domestic investment. “
The Arizona foundry will be online around 2024. If Intel implements the plan, it should ease the burden on Samsung and TSMC, but who knows what will happen in three years?
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.
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