Intel says using TSMC or Samsung process technology is an option

Posted on Tuesday, January 12 2021 @ 10:34 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
After failures on both the 10nm and 7nm process node, there's pressure on Intel to shake up its business model. Intel is one of the few chip makers with its own fabs. Having your own manufacturing capability has a lot of benefits but at the moment Intel is lagging behind TSMC.

Intel outsources some of its production, in the past this used to be low-end and low-complexity products, but the one-year delay of the 7nm node has pushed Intel to outsource even some of its cutting-edge products to semiconductor foundries.

CEO Bob Swan promised Intel will give some clarity about its future plans at the company's next earnings call on January 21. Interestingly, Swan held a roundtable discussion with some analysts and tech writers last week. In response to a question from Paul Alcorn (Tom's Hardware), Swan didn't rule out the licensing of a competitor's technology for use in Intel's fabs:
And that means we may outsource more; it means we may use more available third-party IP, it means we may make stuff for others, not just, i.e., be a foundry ourselves. And is there a scenario where we could be using somebody else's process technology in our fabs? That's possible. The key is, as the industry evolves, how do we leverage the innovation? Not just within our four walls, but the innovation happening in the industry as a whole, and be very flexible and adaptable to take advantage of those [innovations] along the way. I hope that helps.
Tom's Hardware has more info over here and concludes it could be a viable option for Intel:
This middle ground would allow Intel to maintain tighter control of as much of its supply chain as possible, preserve margins as best it could, reduce investment in outside firms, and perhaps divert more of its own internal engineering resources to its future nodes. It could also help the company maintain its advantage of architectures that are tightly coupled with its process tech. Perhaps by producing the chips in its own fabs, Intel could use the yield learning curve to its advantage to increase profitability.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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