By Brian Santo, EETimes (March 24, 2021)
Intel is going to dive headlong into the foundry business, starting with a $20 billion investment in not one but two fabs in Arizona. New CEO Pat Gelsinger said the company is establishing the contract manufacturing endeavor as a standalone business called Intel Foundry Services.
IFS will be run by Randhir Thakur, a longtime executive at Applied Materials who joined Intel in 2017 to manage the company’s global supply chain; he most recently held the title of chief supply chain officer. Thakur will report directly to Gelsinger.
“We are ready to engage with customers today,” Gelsinger said.
That Intel is getting deeper into foundry services is exactly the opposite of what some Intel critics wanted to hear for a lot of reasons. Once considered the most advanced chip maker in the world, Intel’s manufacturing operations have stumbled; the company has been eclipsed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung, and it will be exceedingly difficult to catch up. Partly to compensate for those stumbles, Intel itself is committed to using other foundries (those plans have not changed at all). Building and operating fabs is fabulously expensive and risky. Even though Intel’s doing some limited foundry work now, being a foundry is both a business model and a technological approach, neither of which Intel has ever excelled at. At a macro level, manufacturing moves to countries with trailing economies for reasons.
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