Intel is rising its reliance on erstwhile rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) in its try to spice up gross sales and ultimately regain dominance because the world chief in manufacturing scale and chip course of know-how.
California-based Intel will be a part of Apple to order the world’s first 3-nm chips from TSMC because the Taiwan chip foundry ramps up its latest course of this yr, in keeping with three analysts surveyed. Intel and Apple are more likely to be the one two TSMC prospects at that most-advanced node in the course of the ramp-up, in keeping with the analysts.
At Intel’s investor assembly yesterday, CEO Pat Gelsinger reiterated a promise to “regain management” within the chip enterprise. Gelsinger, who has been on the helm at Intel for a yr, mentioned the corporate will advance “5 nodes in 4 years”, after which chip nomenclature will shift to angstroms from nanometers.
Intel’s leap is dependent upon TSMC’s assist on the 5- and 3-nm nodes. One of many challenges will likely be combining chiplets from TSMC with different chiplets made internally by Intel into one machine just like the Ponte Vecchio; that can contain matching chiplets made in TSMC’s 5nm course of with Intel’s personal silicon, utilizing Intel’s new packaging applied sciences, which embody embedded multi-die interconnect bridge (EMIB) and Foveros.
It’s a part of a shift from planar to 3D chips that vastly broaden semiconductor actual property in a bid to extend transistor density and ideally prolong Intel’s Moore’s Legislation for many years to return. Intel expects to have the ability to combine 1 trillion transistors on a single chip by 2030.
Intel’s plan will depend closely on ASML’s excessive NA excessive ultraviolet (EUV) lithography instruments. Intel is ASML’s first high-NA buyer in an EUV enterprise (which at the moment consists of solely a handful of shoppers, together with TSMC, Samsung, Intel and Micron). TSMC foundry rivals Samsung and Intel are main within the adoption of gate throughout 3D know-how mixed with EUV in hopes of surpassing the FinFET and EUV knowhow that TSMC has used to take care of gross sales and course of management.
TSMC will begin manufacturing of its “N3” (3 nm course of) with its top-two shoppers Intel and Apple doing small-volume wafer manufacturing in late 2022, in keeping with Credit score Suisse analyst Randy Abrams in a report supplied to EE Occasions. TSMC will see N3 income kicking in by the primary quarter of 2023, across the time Samsung ramps up GAA.
Samsung will do threat manufacturing for GAA early in 2022 and wafer-in quantity by the top of 2022, in keeping with the Credit score Suisse report.
Samsung GAA will begin with the corporate’s personal Exynos product within the first half of 2023, whereas TSMC ramps up the brand new Apple-Intel orders, adopted by a second wave of enterprise from probably extra prospects someday throughout 2023-24, the report says.
“We additionally imagine Intel would nonetheless announce extra particulars on its merchandise in TSMC in 2023-24, (and) on 3nm within the subsequent few quarters whereas it tries to enhance its in-house manufacturing,” in keeping with the report. TSMC will tackle $5 billion of gross sales which are a bit of Intel’s $24 billion complete addressable market in chip manufacturing, in keeping with the report.
The views of Arete Analysis senior analyst Brett Simpson are related.
“Intel is engaged with TSMC on N3 for its next-generation graphic processors (GPUs) in 2023, and the ramp plans right here look greater than we first thought. This can be a materials engagement,” he says.
Intel’s GPU rivals embody Nvidia and others. GPUs should not a product space that Intel has addressed traditionally.
“We thought they’d go sluggish, however the ramp plans for GPUs look to be over 10K wafers per 30 days. That alerts Intel will likely be a node forward of GPU rivals subsequent yr,” in keeping with one analyst surveyed, who requested for anonymity.
The large prize for TSMC is strategic CPU tapeouts — however there’s a robust inclination for Intel to maintain its core tech in-house for now, Simpson instructed EE Occasions in an e-mail. “As Intel shifts extra in direction of ‘fab-agnostic’ chip design, it’s attainable to see extra outsourcing of its CPUs most probably within the 2024 timeframe,” he mentioned.
Intel is timing its leap to angstroms from nanometers at the same time as it’s putting new bets on breaking into the GPU enterprise and adopting GAA and high-NA lithography.
And it’s embarking on this program whereas many of the chip business nonetheless faces supply-chain points.
“Semiconductor gear firms are bursting on the seams in supporting TSMC, Intel and Samsung capex plans. Any significant shift by Intel to make use of TSMC for CPUs will have to be a part of a cautious long-term provide planning course of. For instance, if Intel is unable to supply the instruments they should develop their enterprise, then a wider dedication to TSMC’s superior nodes would make strategic sense,” in keeping with Simpson.
The roadmap for the Intel-TSMC partnership is seen as much as the 3-nm technology, after which the 2 are more likely to develop into extra like opponents. Intel expects TSMC’s nanometer narrative to vary to angstroms with the introduction of Intel’s Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake merchandise in 2023.
“I imagine Intel will outsource some manufacturing, primarily for TSMC’s 3 nm and 5 nm, and a bit for six nm,” Mark Li, a senior analysis analyst with Bernstein & Co., instructed EE Occasions. “TSMC and Intel have been getting ready for awhile, and the notable quantity will begin in early 2023.”
Intel common supervisor of know-how improvement Ann Kelleher yesterday pledged to regain “management” in course of know-how on the 20-angstrom node, or 20A, in Intel’s parlance. The 2023-2024 interval is when Intel expects to vary chip nomenclature and retake know-how management.
Within the meantime, top-line gross sales for TSMC, Intel and their prospects like Apple and MediaTek will likely be an necessary issue for the chip foundries of their effort to dominate the enterprise. Chief TSMC has had annual gross sales development close to or exceeding 20 p.c for years, serving to to fund growth of recent fabs that may value as a lot as $30 billion. Intel, which weeks in the past introduced its Silicon Heartland fab challenge in Ohio, yesterday mentioned its annual gross sales development received’t attain double digits for a number of extra years.