Over the last few years, Intel has been stuck in a rut of sorts. It lost many of its prominent customers, most notably Apple while also falling behind longtime rival AMD in both execution and roadmaps. The return of Pat Gelsinger, as the CEO of the world’s largest chipmaker, is being seen as a revival or return to roots, with a focus on production, packaging, and performance. Gelsinger has set some lofty goals for Intel, spanning an entire decade.
This starts with the expansion of its foundry capacity in Arizona. Intel has just begun building fabs 52 and 62 for an overall sum of $20 billion with an aim to start production of 4nm wafers by 2024. This follows a $3.5 billion upgrade to the New Mexico foundry to improve advanced packaging capabilities. And that’s just the beginning. The company plans to build its third major foundry complex for a whopping $100 billion. We’re talking about a 1,000-acre site, a mini-city of sorts with its own colleges, universities, schools, etc.
The end goal of all this investment is to restore the US as a major producer of semiconductors. From 37% in 1990 to 12% today, America’s manufacturing industry has rapidly surrendered to the growing influence of Taiwanese/Chinese firms, most notably TSMC.
Over the decade in front of us, we should be striving to bring the US to 30% of worldwide semiconductor manufacturing.Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO
Gelsinger is going as far as to announce a campaign to rejuvenate the US semiconductor industry, with a goal to bring it back to 30% over the next ten years, nearly 3x more than the present day. Much of this will be achieved via government subsidies and legislation, one of which is presently stuck in Congress. The $52 billion bill seems rather paltry compared to the chipmaker’s $100 billion mini-city project slated to begin construction sometime next year. Regardless, paired with local state-level subsidies, it should help set up a few cutting-edge fabs across the country ($10 billion for each fab).
To make up for the repeated production delays (read: 10nm and 7nm delays), Intel plans to expand its manufacturing capacity by as much as five times in the next four years. However, critics and analysts remain skeptical of Gelsinger’s lofty plans and have mostly downgraded Intel’s stock.