Intel’s Q4 earnings call was once again quite positive despite the various challenges the chipmaker is facing. This time around the call was attended by the outgoing (Swan) as well as the newly appointed CEO, Pat Gelsinger. One of the main changes compared to the previous press-conferences was the company’s promise to retain the process leadership and produce most of its chips in-house. Analysts were expecting the Santa Clara-based chipmaker to reveal its outsourcing strategy for the coming years, but that has been delayed to when Gelsinger takes over as the new CEO next month.
One of the key highlights of the press conference was the growth of the PC business by 33% compared to the same quarter last year and a rather sizable 4x increase in the production of the problematic 10nm node. Much of this increase in yields was achieved with the help of the SuperFin technology.
Thanks to this improvement in 10nm yields, Intel has already started sampling the 10nm Sapphire Rapids-SP and the Alder Lake-S desktop chips which are slated to launch in the first half of 2022 and end of 2021, respectively. The latter will be qualified for volume production in the second half of the year.
There was also some news regarding Intel’s 7nm process which should have ideally been in volume production by now. The new CEO said that he has personally reviewed progress on the company’s 7nm process over the last week and that he is pleased with the “health and recovery of the 7nm program.”
At the same time, he didn’t discard the plan to leverage external foundries to make up for Intel’s wide range of products across various markets. However, the plan is to make Team Blue as self-sufficient as possible with the majority of the 2023 CPU products expected to come from the company’s own foundries.
This means that the Xe-HPG and HPC GPUs will primarily be fabbed at third-party fabs, most likely TSMC’s 7nm and 5nm nodes. It’s also highly possible that the Alder Lake-S successor which is expected to land in late 2022 or early 2023 will also leverage TSMC’s advanced nodes as indicated in multiple reports.
Overall, Gelsinger plans to make Intel “the unquestioned leader in process technology” which doesn’t require the company to manufacture each and every one of its products. The ones that it does though, need to be the best.