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Intel to use TSMC 3 nm for Xe while building other fabs

Gelsinger secures production

Posted: By Jon Peddie 12.16.21

It looks like Intel won’t be moving the Xe product to Intel 3 but rather use TSMC’s 3 nm process. According to Digitimes, Mr. Gelsinger was in Taiwan securing a reliable supply of 3 nm silicon wafers from TSMC. Intel, like AMD, is using TSMC for dGPU production. The first batch of Xe chips will be TSMC 6. If Xe is as scalable as Intel has said, then moving the design from 6 to 3 nm in TSMC’s fab should be easier than moving it to Intel 3 line.

Taiwan was wounded when earlier this month at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, Gelsinger argued for more investment in U.S. technology because Taiwan is an unstable place. Intel attempted to smooth the runway before landing in Taiwan by releasing a pre-recorded video speech by Gelsinger in which he praised TSMC for its role in the transformation of Taiwan.Yeh Hsien-wen, vice president of PGIM's fund management team for the greater China market, said many were surprised by the video. He noted Gelsinger's promise to invest in the country's "incredible ecosystem" in the semiconductor industry and his praise for Taiwan's remarkable achievements were an attempt by Gelsinger to ensure the Taiwanese chipmaker will reserve some of its 3 nm process technology production capacity for Intel. The story made the news in Taiwan and newscasters also quoted "one Taiwan analyst" who speculated that Gelsinger's goal was designed to trick TSMC into setting aside some of its valuable 3 nm capacity for Intel, only to pull out of the deal later and leave TSMC holding the bag. Apparently, some people in Taiwan were still miffed including anonymous analysts.

TSMC is expected to start supplying chips made using the 3 nm process in 2024, Yeh said to Digitimes.

Mr. Gelsinger has also been soliciting the U.S. government for some financial help in constructing new fabs in the U.S. The Intel CEO has been urging business and political leaders to press Congress to pass a bill that would provide $52 billion in subsidies for his and other companies in the semiconductor industry to encourage domestic chip production.

At the same, Intel has announced it will spend $7 billion for building a fab in Malaysia.

And, Mr. Gelsinger has also asked the European government for $10 billion to build fabs there.

TSMC has asked Intel to kick in some cash to help defer the costs of building the 3 nm fab.

So it looks like Intel should change its name from Intel to Global Fabs (or is that name already taken. . . ?)