The pressure is building for Bob Swan. Within ten days, the CEO of Intel must take advantage of the quarterly financial point to present his roadmap, and he is expected to turn in terms of chip engraving finesse.
After spending more than three years failing to cross the 14nm limit, Intel’s 10nm process is barely reaching cruising speed when the competition, which already runs on 7nm, begins to fully embrace 5nm .
Intel has made no secret of its preparation to call on subcontractors, and we now know that the American company is discussing with the two Asian champions, the Korean Samsung and the Taiwanese TSMC. The latter, which is the world leader not only in conventional technology, but also in new generation engraving, known as EUV, would even have a good offer to make to Intel, which must produce tens of millions of chips.
TSMC would indeed propose to convert its future plant in Baoshan, which should begin production by the end of the year, to dedicate it entirely to the service of Intel. This site, which should employ more than 8,000 people, should be able to burn 4 nm chips, with test production for the end of 2021 and mass production for the following year.
Besides the more modular approach in chip development and production – initiated by engineer Jim Keller in the Lakefield architecture – the use of partly outsourced production could allow Intel to move faster. It remains for Bob Swan to know what to do with the industrial apparatus of Intel which dominated, for two decades, the world of semiconductors.
Source : Bloomberg
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