Research firm In-Stat reports Intel continues to lead the semiconductor market in manufacturing process development and in fab capacity. The chip giant currently has three 90nm fabs and will have four 65nm fabs, including one retro fit and one 90nm conversion ramping in 2006.
But future process technologies will pose challenges as Intel and the rest of the industry struggle with rising leakage current and limitations with current process technology.
"As other semiconductor manufacturers turn towards partnerships for developing new process technologies and manufacturing capacity, Intel is one of the few vendors that can continue to push ahead alone and uses its technology and capacity as a competitive strength," said Jim McGregor, In-Stat analyst. "For example, in 2004, with a strong transition to the 90nm process node and 300mm wafers, Intel realized an estimated savings of $1 billion in manufacturing costs."
Here are some of the conclusions of In-Stat's report:
Despite the rising cost of fabs, mask sets, and in some cases, the die size, Intel's average manufacturing cost per die will remain relatively constant at approximately $40 during 2003-2005.
Intel's continuous goal to shrink die sizes has resulted in the ability to double on-chip cache sizes with every process generation. In the future, however, Intel will be balancing the use of this transistor budget for more memory and additional cores as a way to increase performance.
With the transition to 65nm, Intel is planning to begin moving its entire product portfolio, including logic and memory, to a single process.