The first products Intel is expected to outsource production could be the Ponte Vecchio 7nm GPU series, which is slated for launch next year.
As the largest semiconductor maker in the world, Intel tells them about a crazy idea: no longer to manufacture its own chips, but to outsource chips.
Chip outsourcing has become common in today’s $ 400 billion chip industry, but for Intel, a company with 50 years of designing and manufacturing its own chips, it’s the same thing. Unusual.
So in case we need to use another company’s process technology and need those contingency plans, we’ll be ready to do that, ”Swan told investors at the session. reporting. results, after warning of a 6 month delay in the launch of the 7nm chips. “It gives us more choice and flexibility. So in situations where there are delays in progress, we can try out another company’s technology, instead of doing everything ourselves. “
This flexibility “is not a sign of weakness,” he added.
Intel’s plan to outsource chip manufacturing could begin with the 7nm Ponte Vecchio GPUs, the company’s first graphics chip. Based on a chiplet design, this GPU will be launched in late 2021 or early 2022.
Continuing this approach represents a huge change in both the chip industry and the end of Intel’s distinctiveness, said Matt Ramsay, analyst at Cowen & Co.
While chip design can only have a partial impact on semiconductor performance, chip manufacturing processes are critical to ensuring that new semiconductors can store more data and processes. information faster and using less energy. The combination of these two factors has helped Intel improve its operations for decades.
However, Taiwan’s TSMC has successfully focused only on chip manufacturing and design outsourcing for other companies. Their factories have not only surpassed Intel in terms of technological advancement, but also in production capacity. This has helped not only Apple, Qualcomm, but also AMD, Intel’s main rival, to make products with superior performance.
As 7nm chips became popular in smartphones and began to appear on AMD processors and Nvidia GPUs, Intel was still stuck in 14nm products, and only a few. 10nm processor for laptops. Not only that, but delaying 7nm process products for another six months shows that Intel’s chip roadmap has “broken”.
Intel’s lag in chip-making technology has disappointed analysts and investors alike and raises countless questions for CEO Bob Swan about the company’s plans for the future. The answer to these questions is Mr Swan’s fragmented and vague answer to whether there will be a fallback option for outside company chipmaking.
The contingency plan will probably be to choose TSMC to manufacture their chips. But it won’t be easy. Analyst Ramsay said other TSMC customers, which compete with Intel, are more likely to oppose the Taiwanese company if they prioritize Intel’s design. In addition, TSMC will also be reluctant to expand its production capacity to meet Intel’s demand when the US company can fully return to its factories.