Intel has always prided itself on its huge capital expenditures. Investments in fabs have helped the company become the world's largest chip manufacturer, as well as the proprietor of the most advanced semiconductor processes.
The chip giant is already making 22 nm chips, when most other chip makers are just starting on 28 nm devices. More importantly, Intel is expected to be the first to move to the 14 nm process later this year.
At the same time, as the PC market continues to struggle, Intel finds itself sitting on lots of extra fab capacity. What to do? The obvious move, but a surprising one for a company that considers the manufacturing process its key competitive advantage: sell it. The company formed a foundry business about three years ago, but until recently its customers have been tiny companies. Its first announced customer, in November 2010, was programmable logic startup Achronix Semiconductor. It signed another startup focusing on programmable chips, Tabula, in February 2012.
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