Intel will manufacture Qualcomm chips: it is its first customer after announcing that it will build for third parties

Intel, which will also package chips for Amazon, has unveiled its roadmap for the product launches it plans to do between now and 2025 and beyond to regain leadership.

Intel announced Monday that it will manufacture Qualcomm chips and has advanced a roadmap to expand its manufacturing business to third parties to face rivals such as the Taiwanese TSMC and Samsung Electronics by 2025. Amazon Web Services is also set to become the first customer of Intel Foundry Services packaging services.

The news comes after the US chip giant unveiled earlier this year the creation of a new line of business, Intel Foundry Services, which will focus on manufacturing semiconductors for third parties, as TSMC and Samsung already do. These two companies have helped AMD and Nvidia (which only design their chips but don’t make them) to produce chips that analysts say outperform Intel.

The company said it hopes to regain leadership by 2025, after it lost the lead long ago after suffering technological delays, such as the 7-nanometer chips, which last year announced that they would not be ready until 2022-2023. And to demonstrate that this is possible, the new CEO of Intel, Pat Gelsinger, today advanced the road map of technologies for the product launches that his company plans to do between now and 2025 and beyond.

The American multinational has presented two technologies that it has described as “revolutionary”, which will arrive in 2024 and which they assure will place them at the forefront in the manufacture of semiconductors and transistors. One is RibbonFet, “our first new transistor architecture in over a decade,” Gelsinger noted, and the other, PowerVia, “the first technology in the industry to change how power is delivered to transistors within wafers. , which will be done from the back ”.

Intel has also revealed that it plans to rapidly adopt extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) for its next generation of manufacturing as well as important innovations for processor packaging. An equally important area, because currently it is moving towards chips that have logical and functional elements that are packaged together.

“Normally, we do not share our roadmap where we move towards where we are going in five years from now, and we are doing it because we believe that we have very important innovations, not only for us but for potential clients who may be interested in our service of manufacturing to third parties, and because we believe that these developments place us at the forefront of the industry ”, Norberto Mateos, CEO of Intel Spain, told CincoDías.

Regarding its road map with the innovations and products that it will launch between now and 2025, and that release new nomenclatures, the company has advanced that after its current 10-nanometer chips, its Intel 7 chips will arrive, which will offer an increase of between 10% and 15% performance per watt, “which is how progress will be measured between each new manufacturing process we launch,” says Mateos. This year’s products will already be manufactured with Intel 7 for both the client (personal computers) and servers.

In the second half of 2022, Intel 4 chips will arrive, fully adopting EUV lithography and achieving up to 20% better performance per watt than its predecessor. Products with these chips will see the light of day in 2023.

Then come the Intel 3, which will optimize some technologies already used in the previous model to offer an increase in performance per watt of approximately 18% compared to the Intel 4. Products with this chip will begin to be manufactured in the second half of that year.

From there, Intel will enter the atomic dimension with the Intel 20A. The angstrom era (the next level to nanometers) will begin thanks to the two targeted technologies: RibbonFET and PowerVia. The former will offer faster transistor switching speeds and higher transistor densities. And second, it will optimize the transmit signal by eliminating the need to route power to the front of the wafer. “These two advances will allow us to optimize for performance or power or area, depending on the specific needs of the product being manufactured,” continues Mateos.

Intel 20A is expected to come into operation in 2024, and Qualcomm is going to be a partner in the development and use of this manufacturing process, says Mateos, who also clarifies that after that chip the Intel 18A will arrive by 2025, which will use a technology of Even more advanced lithography and in which it is collaborating closely with ASML to ensure the success of this innovation from which Intel hopes to receive the industry’s first production tool.

Qualcomm, a leader in smartphone chips, will use what Intel calls its 20A Chips manufacturing process, which will use the aforementioned new transistor technology to help reduce the amount of power the chip consumes. For its part, Amazon, which increasingly manufactures its own data center chips for its cloud services, does not yet use Intel’s chip-making technology, but will use its packaging technology for the assembly process of its chips, where it offers 3D stacking solutions.

Intel did not provide details on how much revenue or manufacturing volume the two customers will generate. As Reuters recalls, Qualcomm has a long history of using multiple partners to manufacture its chips, sometimes even to itself.

The biggest question Intel faces is whether it can deliver on its technology promises after years of delays under former CEO Brian Krzanich. In recent weeks, Intel announced the delay of its new Sapphire Rapids data center chip. Now, with Gelsinger, former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Intel and former CEO of VMWare, at the helm, he must demonstrate that he will be capable of making major changes to return to being that company that for decades maintained the leadership in technology to manufacture the small and fast chips from the market.

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