Article Image
IPFS News Link • Technology: Computer Hardware

Intel Building New Fabs to Try to Regain Relevance But TSMC Surges Ahead

•, by Brian Wang

Intel announced a $20 billion (USD) investment in two new manufacturing facilities (fabs) in Arizona. They will start production in 2024.

CEO Pat Gelsinger said the 7nm manufacturing node from Intel is now running on schedule. The first product enabled with 7nm will be Ponte Vecchio, the upcoming high-performance compute accelerator for the Aurora supercomputer. Meteor Lake will be a client CPU compute tile for a volume 2023 product. Intel's compute tile / chiplet will finish tape-in (design IP verification) by Q2 2021, and will leverage Intel's advanced packaging techniques. After design manufacturing, tape-out (whole chip design verification) usually takes 4-6+ months, and then the designs are sent to the fabs for initial production and test runs.

Great, Intel will finally push out 7nm devices. TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor) is scaling up its 5nm process manufacturing capacity to 105,000 wafers monthly in the first half of 2021, up from 90,000 units in fourth-quarter 2020, with plans to further expand the process capacity to 120,000 units in the second half of 2021.

TSMC technology is currently 1.5 generations ahead of Intel. Intel is trying to stay 1.5 generations behind but if Intel is on 7nm in 2024 they will be three generations behind. If Intel is on 5nm then they are two generations behind. Nvidia, Apple, AMD, Tesla etc… all will still be using TSMC. Intel is using TSMC but struggling not to get completely knocked out of the fab game and going fabless like AMD and others.

Intel Doing More With TSMC
Intel roadmap will stil use a mixture of internal and external process node manufacturing depending on the product capabilities. Intel already spends more than $7 billion USD at TSMC annually. Intel will use TSMC even more. If Intel wants 5-nanometers and then 3-nanometer from 2021-2023 then they will be using TSMC.