Intel R&D campus key to comeback plan gets $3b boost

Chip giant also reveals next-gen 18A process months ahead of schedule

Intel has officially opened a new $3 billion expansion of its Oregon research and development campus that is key to the chipmaker's plan to overtake rivals with leading-edge chip technologies.

The semiconductor giant marked Monday as the grand opening for the latest expansion of its D1X R&D manufacturing campus in Hillsboro, Oregon. The site is home to the company's 10,000-person Technology Development team, which is responsible for creating new transistor architectures, wafer processes and packaging technologies that serve as the basis for Intel's CPUs and other silicon.

The expansion consists of an extra 270,000 square feet of clean room space to develop new-generation process technologies, which will give the chipmaker greater capacity to work on multiple process technologies in parallel.

In recent years, Intel has fallen behind foundries like TSMC and chip designers like AMD and Nvidia that rely on the latter because of manufacturing issues with Intel's 10nm and 7nm processes over the past several years.

When Pat Gelsinger became Intel's CEO last year, he vowed to fix the company's issues and return to an accelerated pace of introducing new chip processes, in this case delivering five nodes in four years. This began with Intel 7, the new name for Intel's 10nm Enhanced SuperFin node that began last year, and ends with Intel 18A, which will be ready for manufacturing in the second half of 2024.

That last fact represents an important update from Intel. When the company revealed its new process roadmap last summer, it said Intel 18A would be ready for early 2025, which means the company is at least a few months ahead of schedule. Gelsinger has been saying as much in recent statements.

This means the nearly 500,000-square foot D1X campus, which Intel has renamed to Gordon Moore Park in honor of the company's co-founder, will play an outsized role in Gelsinger's comeback vision. The plan includes developing new technologies like the RibbonFET transistor architecture and PowerVia backside power delivery method that are critical to next-generation processes like Intel 18A.

Other inventions created at Gordon Moore Park include the high-k metal gate technology, tri-gate 3D transistors and strained silicon, all of which Intel said have been critical to its ability to "maintain pace" with Moore's law.

"These groundbreaking process innovations all originated right here in Oregon. With the new expansion of our D1X factory, Oregon is well-positioned to deliver the next generation of leading-edge technologies," said Ann Kelleher, head of Intel's Technology Development team.

We should note Intel's manufacturing slip-ups are one reason why people in the industry are increasingly questioning whether we should continue to count on Moore's so-called law, which holds that the density of transistors will double in chips about every two years.

But Intel is adamant in its belief that these new technologies will keep Moore's law alive.

"Since its founding, Intel has been devoted to relentlessly advancing Moore's law. This new factory space will bolster our ability to deliver the accelerated process roadmap required to support our bold IDM 2.0 strategy," said Gelsinger, referring to the evolution of Intel's integrated device manufacturing strategy that involves a revitalized foundry business.

Now you may be wondering: Did Intel use this news to remind Americans that US Congress should pass $52 billion in chip subsidies to support the company's big US manufacturing expansion? You bet it did, thanks to a new blog post from Intel's head of government relations, Al Thompson.

"Funding the [CHIPS for America Act] is critical to bolstering America's technological competitiveness and will help level the playing field for American companies by providing federal incentives to build new factories in the U.S. and invest in essential technology research and development," Thompson wrote. ®

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TSMC may surpass Intel in quarterly revenue for first time

Fab frenemies: x86 giant set to give Taiwanese chipmaker more money as it revitalizes foundry business

In yet another sign of how fortunes have changed in the semiconductor industry, Taiwanese foundry giant TSMC is expected to surpass Intel in quarterly revenue for the first time.

Wall Street analysts estimate TSMC will grow second-quarter revenue 43 percent quarter-over-quarter to $18.1 billion. Intel, on the other hand, is expected to see sales decline 2 percent sequentially to $17.98 billion in the same period, according to estimates collected by Yahoo Finance.

The potential for TSMC to surpass Intel in quarterly revenue is indicative of how demand has grown for contract chip manufacturing, fueled by companies like Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Apple who design their own chips and outsource manufacturing to foundries like TSMC.

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Intel withholds Ohio fab ceremony over US chip subsidies inaction

$20b factory construction start date unchanged – but the x86 giant is not happy

Intel has found a new way to voice its displeasure over Congress' inability to pass $52 billion in subsidies to expand US semiconductor manufacturing: withholding a planned groundbreaking ceremony for its $20 billion fab mega-site in Ohio that stands to benefit from the federal funding.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Intel was tentatively scheduled to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ohio manufacturing site with state and federal bigwigs on July 22. But, in an email seen by the newspaper, the x86 giant told officials Wednesday it was indefinitely delaying the festivities "due in part to uncertainty around" the stalled Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act.

That proposed law authorizes the aforementioned subsidies for Intel and others, and so its delay is holding back funding for the chipmakers.

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Intel’s CEO shouldn’t be surprised America can’t get CHIPS Act together

Silicon supremo warns he could prioritize expansion in Europe if Congress doesn’t approve subsidies

Comment How serious is Intel about delaying the build-out of its planned $20 billion mega-fab site in Ohio?

It turns out very serious, as Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger made clear on Tuesday, less than a week after his x86 giant delayed the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ohio site to show its displeasure over Congress' inability to pass $52 billion in subsidies to fund American semiconductor manufacturing.

In comments at the Aspen Ideas Festival yesterday, Gelsinger warned Intel would prioritize building factories in Europe over the US if Congress fails to act on the long-stalled chip subsidies bill.

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Intel to sell Massachusetts R&D site, once home to its only New England fab

End of another era as former DEC facility faces demolition

As Intel gets ready to build fabs in Arizona and Ohio, the x86 giant is planning to offload a 149-acre historic research and development site in Massachusetts that was once home to the company's only chip manufacturing plant in New England.

An Intel spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday to The Register it plans to sell the property. The company expects to transfer the site to a new owner, a real-estate developer, next summer, whereupon it'll be torn down completely.

The site is located at 75 Reed Rd in Hudson, Massachusetts, between Boston and Worcester. It has been home to more than 800 R&D employees, according to Intel. The spokesperson told us the US giant will move its Hudson employees to a facility it's leasing in Harvard, Massachusetts, about 13 miles away.

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Intel details advances to make upcoming chips faster, less costly

X86 giant says it’s on track to regaining manufacturing leadership after years of missteps

By now, you likely know the story: Intel made major manufacturing missteps over the past several years, giving rivals like AMD a major advantage, and now the x86 giant is in the midst of an ambitious five-year plan to regain its chip-making mojo.

This week, Intel is expected to detail just how it's going to make chips in the near future that are faster, less costly and more reliable from a manufacturing standpoint at the 2022 IEEE Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits, which begins on Monday. The Register and other media outlets were given a sneak peek in a briefing last week.

The details surround Intel 4, the manufacturing node previously known as the chipmaker's 7nm process. Intel plans to use the node for products entering the market next year, which includes the compute tiles for the Meteor Lake CPUs for PCs and the Granite Rapids server chips.

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Intel demos multi-wavelength laser array integrated on silicon wafer

Next stop – on-chip optical interconnects?

Intel is claiming a significant advancement in its photonics research with an eight-wavelength laser array that is integrated on a silicon wafer, marking another step on the road to on-chip optical interconnects.

This development from Intel Labs will enable the production of an optical source with the required performance for future high-volume applications, the chip giant claimed. These include co-packaged optics, where the optical components are combined in the same chip package as other components such as network switch silicon, and optical interconnects between processors.

According to Intel Labs, its demonstration laser array was built using the company's "300-millimetre silicon photonics manufacturing process," which is already used to make optical transceivers, paving the way for high-volume manufacturing in future. The eight-wavelength array uses distributed feedback (DFB) laser diodes, which apparently refers to the use of a periodically structured element or diffraction grating inside the laser to generate a single frequency output.

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To Washington's relief, GlobalWafers to spend $5 billion on Texas plant

Cash had been burning a hole in company's pocket after deal to buy Siltronic fell through

Taiwan's GlobalWafers announced on Monday a new use for the $5 billion it first earmarked for a purchase of Germany's Siltronics: building a 300-millimeter semiconductor wafer plant in the US state of Texas.

Construction on the facility – which will eventually span 3.2 million square feet – is expected to commence later this year, with chip production commencing by 2025. The plant will sit in the city of Sherman, near the Texas-Oklahoma border, where it is slated to bring in 1,500 jobs as production climbs towards 1.2 million wafers per month.

GlobalWafers is the world's third largest producer of silicon wafers and Sherman is already home to its subsidiary, GlobiTech.

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US expands efforts to hamstring China’s chipmaking mojo

Beijing can't get next-gen lithography gear, America now trying to block sales of older machines

The US government is reportedly stepping up efforts to hamper China's ability to grow its semiconductor manufacturing capabilities by pressing for a wider ban on key chipmaking gear.

Uncle Sam hopes to convince officials in the Netherlands to block Dutch-native semiconductor equipment maker ASML from selling its older deep ultraviolet lithography (DUV) systems to China, according to a Tuesday report from Bloomberg that cited unnamed sources. US and Dutch officials declined to comment on the report, as did ASML.

DUV systems use a less advanced lithography process than ASML's extreme ultraviolet light (EUV) machines that chipmakers are increasingly turning to for leading-edge components coming to the market, such as Apple's homegrown M2 silicon for Macs or Nvidia's H100 datacenter GPU.

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Elon Musk’s brother buys Intel’s fireworks-replacing drone biz

Yet another sign x86 giant has moved past Krzanich era to focus on core chip businesses

As Intel tries to enact an ambitious comeback plan, the semiconductor giant has been offloading some divisions that aren't key to its core chipmaking business. The latest to get shunted off is the company's PR-friendly drone-powered light-show business, and the buyer is… Elon Musk's brother.

Yes, that's right: Kimbal Musk has acquired Intel Drone Light Shows through his new company Nova Sky Stories, which he formed after apparently being brought to tears last year by the sight of light drones forming the titular "man" of the Burning Man festival at an unofficial gathering after the official annual event was canceled.

While Musk doesn't mention Intel by name in a June announcement of Nova Sky Stories, the website for Intel's drone light-show business says it has been bought by K. Musk's company.

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Intel demands $625m in interest from Europe on overturned antitrust fine

Chip giant still salty

Having successfully appealed Europe's €1.06bn ($1.2bn) antitrust fine, Intel now wants €593m ($623.5m) in interest charges.

In January, after years of contesting the fine, the x86 chip giant finally overturned the penalty, and was told it didn't have to pay up after all. The US tech titan isn't stopping there, however, and now says it is effectively seeking damages for being screwed around by Brussels.

According to official documents [PDF] published on Monday, Intel has gone to the EU General Court for “payment of compensation and consequential interest for the damage sustained because of the European Commissions refusal to pay Intel default interest."

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Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge

What will it take to loosen the x86 giant's edge stranglehold?

Analysis Supermicro launched a wave of edge appliances using Intel's newly refreshed Xeon-D processors last week. The launch itself was nothing to write home about, but a thought occurred: with all the hype surrounding the outer reaches of computing that we call the edge, you'd think there would be more competition from chipmakers in this arena.

So where are all the AMD and Arm-based edge appliances?

A glance through the catalogs of the major OEMs – Dell, HPE, Lenovo, Inspur, Supermicro – returned plenty of results for AMD servers, but few, if any, validated for edge deployments. In fact, Supermicro was the only one of the five vendors that even offered an AMD-based edge appliance – which used an ageing Epyc processor. Hardly a great showing from AMD. Meanwhile, just one appliance from Inspur used an Arm-based chip from Nvidia.

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Semiconductor market to be hit by fresh wave of rising component costs

Chemicals supplier warns it expects to raise prices, may cut some product lines

More red flags about the semiconductor market are being raised with the news that a key supplier to chipmakers such as TSMC is planning to hike prices, which will likely have a knock-on effect on chip prices.

Japan-based chemicals company Showa Denko has warned it expects to raise prices and may have to cut back some of its unprofitable product lines. The company is a major supplier of chemicals and gases that are used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry for the creation of silicon wafers and in the etching process to create chips.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Showa Denko chief financial officer Hideki Somemiya said the company had already raised prices at least a dozen times this year, citing issues such as COVID-19 lockdowns, increasing energy costs and other factors. However, he confirmed "the current market moves require us to ask twice the amount we had previously calculated."

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