Friday, August 3rd 2018

Chances of Intel Going Fabless Higher Than Ever

Intel is one of the few semiconductor companies that manufactures a majority of its products on its own silicon fabrication foundries. The breadwinner for the company continues to be CPUs, and a majority of its revenues continue to come from its client-computing group (CCG). CPUs, like GPUs, are required to be built on the latest silicon fabrication process to keep up (or catch up) with Moore's Law. Intel is plagued with severe technological roadblocks toward advancing its foundry process from 14 nanometer (nm) to its next step, 10 nm. In its latest Q2-2018 earnings call, the company confirmed that the 10 nm node won't put out before Q4-2019, even as rival AMD's CEO announced that its first 7 nm processors will be up for purchase by the end of 2018 (a year ahead with a more advanced process, on paper). Analysts are beginning to paint a very grim future for Intel's foundry business.

The prospects for Intel going fabless, at least for its cutting-edge products, is higher than ever. Analysts, speaking with Taiwan-based industry observer DigiTimes, mentioned that there is speculation of Intel scaling down its foundry business. Something like this, if true, could hint at the company looking for foundry partners with newer silicon-fabrication nodes at a more advanced stage of development (eg: GlobalFoundries 7 nm) to manufacture its processors, while relegating its own foundries to manufacture less complex products such as chipset, NAND flash, 3D XPoint memory, 5G PHYs, etc. Fancy a Core processor made by GloFo in the great state of New York?
Source: DigiTimes
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80 Comments on Chances of Intel Going Fabless Higher Than Ever

#1
londiste
If by "higher than ever" you mean "Well, no" instead of previous "Hell, no", then that might be accurate :D
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#2
StrayKAT
Intel's 10nm is roughly equivalent to AMD's 7nm..

At least according to those who know more than me. So I'll take their word for it. The news isn't so terrible in that respect.

Of course, this probably doesn't matter to Wall Street.
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#3
dj-electric
10nm facility upgrade is going full force. Hopefully we can see 10nm CPUs by September of next year.
I'm surprised that Intel is taking its time on upgrading other facilities...
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#4
Zubasa
Once upon a time, when "Real men have fabs" .:roll:
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#5
Vya Domus
Already saw it coming , you can't compete with companies that dedicate all their money and effort towards new manufacturing processes.
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#6
remixedcat
the amount of alex jonesing on pc hardware is YUGE
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#7
TheLostSwede
dj-electric, post: 3879661, member: 87186"
10nm facility upgrade is going full force. Hopefully we can see 10nm CPUs by September of next year.
I'm surprised that Intel is taking its time on upgrading other facilities...
It's not a "facilities" problem, they are having problems with making their manufacturing process work at 10nm. Intel is being stubborn and won't change to other types of materials and have been stuck using the same materials since 45nm. The competition has moved to other types of materials that are seemingly more compatible with more advanced production processes and this is why Intel has been suffering and is continuing to suffer.
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#8
LemmingOverlord
StrayKAT, post: 3879660, member: 174092"
Intel's 10nm is roughly equivalent to AMD's 7nm..

At least according to those who know more than me. So I'll take their word for it. The news isn't so terrible in that respect.

Of course, this probably doesn't matter to Wall Street.
My thoughts too. However, I'd go one step further: shareholders are expecting unrealistic growth in profits, fueled by internal company politics (@INTEL). This doesn't happen just to Intel, though. Companies like AMD are now showing great revenue growth (but still low margins), and shareholders will soon put some pressure on AMD, once it's captured some decent market share, to put the squeeze on the consumers and up their margins. Shareholders don't play the long game. They play the shortest one possible. If that means ruining a company that's a good bread-earner, so be it - they'll just move onto the next.
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#9
londiste
TheLostSwede, post: 3879709, member: 3382"
It's not a "facilities" problem, they are having problems with making their manufacturing process work at 10nm. Intel is being stubborn and won't change to other types of materials and have been stuck using the same materials since 45nm. The competition has moved to other types of materials that are seemingly more compatible with more advanced production processes and this is why Intel has been suffering and is continuing to suffer.
Actually, it seems to be the other way around. Intel is being stubborn and is moving to other types of materials - cobalt, namely :)
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#10
TheLostSwede
londiste, post: 3879711, member: 169790"
Actually, it seems to be the other way around. Intel is being stubborn and is moving to other types of materials - cobalt, namely :)
Right, I missed that, but that's a fairly recent change to it's 10nm plan, most likely because they couldn't stick with tried and tested materials. That then adds even more delays, as they need to make sure it works as intended. The shareholders aren't going to be happy...
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#11
R0H1T
londiste, post: 3879711, member: 169790"
Actually, it seems to be the other way around. Intel is being stubborn and is moving to other types of materials - cobalt, namely :)
And looks like they're reluctant to get past the thing called "pride" & if 14nm then 10nm is any indication, the chances are their next node shrink will also be delayed.
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#12
yeeeeman
"Analysts are beginning to paint a very grim future for Intel's foundry business" - WTF, is there something that analysts are not good at?
Intel 10nm is broken because they chose to be too bold on the changes, very high increase in density, newer materials, etc. Analysts are only interested in driving stock prices with their opinion, other than that, their opinion is no better than a 5 year old kid.
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#13
champsilva
The question is

Could GF keep the demand?
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#14
Caring1
The way Intel is going with marketing in comparison to AMD, they would have more luck placing their processors in pink boxes and going fabulous :roll:
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#16
Vayra86
champsilva, post: 3879763, member: 164164"
The question is

Could GF keep the demand?
I think if Intel goes fabless they may well end up finding a new home for the workforce AND selling off the fabs to either TSMC or GF. It would be a tremendous waste otherwise and it cuts down on the time to market for those production lines.

But... Im taking this news with a grain of salt. In either case its going to take years.
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#17
trparky
R0H1T, post: 3879714, member: 131092"
get past the thing called "pride"
It's the whole "We're Intel man! Intel!" attitude. They're drunk from drinking their own Kool-Aid similar to another company that rhymes with Crapple.
yeeeeman, post: 3879737, member: 127591"
Intel 10nm is broken because they chose to be too bold on the changes, very high increase in density, newer materials
Again... pride.
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#18
oxidized
Vya Domus, post: 3879675, member: 169281"
Already saw it coming , you can't compete with companies that dedicate all their money and effort towards new manufacturing processes.
Actually in recent years Intel has invested in manufacturing processes, more than all the others big fabs combined. So well
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#19
trparky
oxidized, post: 3879815, member: 170038"
Actually in recent years Intel has invested in manufacturing processes, more than all the others big fabs combined. So well
So again... why are the other guys ahead of Intel in terms of manufacturing? I'd go so far as to say it's because of competition in the chip fab business. If you, as a chip fab, don't have the best fabrication process you might not get the contract to make some company's chips. If you, as a chip fab, don't get the contract this year you're definitely going to make damn sure you'll get it next year meanwhile the chip fab that didn't get it next year because you got it is going to be thinking the same thing. It's called one-upmanship and it drives innovation.
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#20
oxidized
trparky, post: 3879821, member: 170376"
So again... why are the other guys ahead of Intel in terms of manufacturing? I'd go so far as to say it's because of competition in the chip fab business. If you, as a chip fab, don't have the best fabrication process you might not get the contract to make some company's chips. If you, as a chip fab, don't get the contract this year you're definitely going to make damn sure you'll get it next year meanwhile the chip fab that didn't get it next year because you got it is going to be thinking the same thing. It's called one-upmanship and it drives innovation.
What are you talking about, they still have the best manufacturing process, 7nm isn't out yet, and for all we know it could come out in quantity just around the same time intel will launch cannon lake on 10nm
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#21
trparky
oxidized, post: 3879847, member: 170038"
What are you talking about, they still have the best manufacturing process, 7nm isn't out yet, and for all we know it could come out in quantity just around the same time intel will launch cannon lake on 10nm
I sense of touch of Intel fanboyism here. Even Samsung makes better chips, the Samsung Note 8 has a 10nm chip. nVidia makes their stuff at TSMC.
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#22
oxidized
trparky, post: 3879854, member: 170376"
I sense of touch of Intel fanboyism here. Even Samsung makes better chips, the Samsung Note 8 has a 10nm chip. nVidia makes their stuff at TSMC.
A touch of fanboyism? Pardon, do you actually have any idea what are you talking about? Intel's 14nm is the most polished, the only one in specs, resulting in smaller transistors and if used correctly higher density of the die.
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#23
trparky
oxidized, post: 3879856, member: 170038"
Intel's 14nm is the most polished
Another way of saying warmed over. Sure, it may be the most polished but that's only because they've been sitting on the same process for the last five years and moving nowhere fast. Meanwhile you have the likes of Samsung and TSMC really driving innovation forward. Like I said... nVidia makes their stuff at TSMC and yet nVidia makes the best damn GPUs in the industry. Why is that?

Oh... and I have an 8700K in my system.
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#24
oxidized
trparky, post: 3879859, member: 170376"
Another way of saying warmed over. Sure, it may be the most polished but that's only because they've been sitting on the same process for the last five years and moving nowhere fast. Meanwhile you have the likes of Samsung and TSMC really driving innovation forward. Like I said... nVidia makes their stuff at TSMC and yet nVidia makes the best damn GPUs in the industry. Why is that?

Oh... and I have an 8700K in my system.
You clearly don't know what you're talking about. Nvidia would never use intel's fab doesn't matter how good their manufacturing process is, it's just how these 2 companies work. Now tell me how are Samsung and TSMC driving innovation forward?

Just noticed your avatar, that explains many things...
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#25
trparky
If Intel is so great and all, why is AMD finally showing signs of beating them? If Intel is so great why have they been sitting on what is essentially the same damn product since Ivy Bridge? We've not seen real innovation from Intel in more then five years. They've been sleeping meanwhile AMD just came up and slapped them up side the head. I really do think that AMD's Zen 2 is going to be a game changer, it's going to be like the old AMD Athlon 64 vs Intel Pentium 4 days again and it's going to be great!!!
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