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Intel CEO Warns Against Overreliance on TSMC, Suggests Looking for Alternative Foundries (Intel Fabs)

Intel’s been having a hard time sticking to its processor roadmap. This is doubly true for the server segment, where both Ice Lake-SP (from late 2020 to early 2021) and now, Sapphire Rapids-SP have been delayed by a couple of quarters. This is probably due to the increased ramp-up time demanded by the company’s 10nm++ nodes and its derivatives. Lately, there have been rumors that Intel is going to be one of TSMC’s largest (and earliest) 3nm adoptees in 2023. However, recent comments from Pat Gelsinger indicate that he’s hellbent on preventing the US chip relief funds from going into TSMC’s pockets.

Speaking at the JPMorgan 49th Annual Global Technology Conference, he referred to the ongoing US-China conflict and warned that the industry shouldn’t become too reliant on TSMC. Calling Intel, Samsung, and TSMC as the leading edge foundries (even though the latter is a fair bit ahead of the other two), he stated that chipmakers should look at alternatives to TSMC in case the geopolitical situation goes south.

So we’re presenting that PDKs now for leading-edge process technology that we have under development today. That will say, we’re taking that off the table. We’ve also said, hey, you only have a few choices and you want supply chain flexibility and resilience as well, right. You don’t want all of your eggs in the basket of a Taiwan fab, right, given some of the geopolitical situations, just supply chain resilience management post-COVID, right. You want to look at your second supplier alternatives as well.

Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO

Furthermore, in a sponsored post published on Politico, he urged the US government to invest in American intellectual property and capabilities. Gelsinger said that the Biden administration should invest US tax dollars in companies that are based out of the country, and house their most critical assets domestically.

Taking a shot at TSMC, he stated that foreign chipmakers with their valuable IPs overseas shouldn’t be given any financial aid, calling it an insecure, foreign supply chain. He pointed to The Economist’s report which indicates that even after TSMC opens its first foundry in the US in 2024, it’ll continue to make its most advanced chips in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Gelsinger told Italian media that Intel is looking to grow its foundries in Europe, with a 100 billion factory targeted for Italian soil. This follows after negotiations with German (Bavarian) authorities to build a cutting-edge foundry in the region (most likely) failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Promote innovation and IP in the US. The federal government should invest in American intellectual property and capabilities. It should invest U.S. tax dollars in companies that are based here and house their most critical assets ― including patents and people ― domestically; Companies with such deep American roots that it is more efficient for them to partner with government to transform the U.S. into the optimal operating environment, rather than seeking one out overseas.

By contrast, foreign chipmakers vying for U.S. subsidies will keep their valuable intellectual property on their own shores, ensuring that the most lucrative and cutting-edge manufacturing stays there and requiring the U.S. to make the difficult choice between forgoing the advanced chips necessary for critical national security applications or relying on insecure, foreign supply chains for them. According to an analysis in The Economisteven after Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC opens its first plant (called a “fab”) in the U.S. in 2024, the company will still be making its most advanced products in Taiwan.

Sponsored Content: More than manufacturing: Investments in chip production must support U.S. priorities – POLITICO

Originally, Intel had stated that it hopes to get close to $10 billion in government subsidies, primarily in the form of tax cuts and investments. We are more likely to see the allocation of land and resources for the foundry at subsidized prices. Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger has already offered Intel a possible location for building the fab, an abandoned airbase in Penzing-Landsberg near Munich.

Intel’s primary fab in Europe is based out of Ireland and is one of the more mature factories of the chipmaker being in operation since the 1980s. Other possible locations to build a foundry in Europe include Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg.

Areej

Computer Engineering dropout (3 years), writer, journalist, and amateur poet. I started my first technology blog, Techquila while in college to address my hardware passion. Although largely successful, it was a classic example of too many people trying out multiple different things but getting nothing done. Left in late 2019 and been working on Hardware Times ever since.

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