Intel plans to source chip subcomponents from outside factories, details partnerships with TSMC

Intel on Thursday gave new details of its turnaround strategy to source subcomponents of its chips from outside factories, including new details of partnerships with rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

Intel is one of the few remaining semiconductor companies that still designs and manufactures its own chips. But it lost its lead in making faster chips to TSMC, which focuses on manufacturing projects by outside companies, after mistakes in its manufacturing operations.

Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger earlier this year outlined the company’s strategy to regain its manufacturing position by 2025. But in the meantime, Intel is trying to prevent further erosion of its chip market share by rivals like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia , which have faster deals.

Part of Intel’s response involves looking to rivals like TSMC for chip subcomponents called “tiles” and pairing them in Intel’s own factories with packaging technology. Intel said on Thursday that its new “Ponte Vecchio” chip will use keycards made with TMSC’s “N5” and “N7” chip fabrication technologies, placed on top of a base made by Intel.

The first major use of the “Ponte Vecchio” chip will be in a supercomputer that Intel is building for the US Department of Energy.

Raja Koduri, senior vice president of Intel’s Graphics and Accelerated Computing Systems Group, admitted that Intel had been challenging Nvidia for years to accelerate artificial intelligence software, a market that has driven much of the chip industry’s expansion in the last years.

Koduri said the “Ponte Vecchio” chip is faster than Nvidia’s offerings in some of these tasks.

“For a decade, we let them have free rein,” Koduri said. “This ends now.”

Earlier this week, Intel also renamed its graphics chips that will challenge Nvidia’s other big video game market.

Intel said on Thursday that its “Alchemist” graphics chips will be made by TSMC using “N6” chip manufacturing technology, an updated version of its “N7” technology. Reuters reported in January that Intel would use updated technology from TSMC.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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