Monday, December 7th 2020

Intel to Outsource Atom and Low-Power Xeon Manufacturing to TSMC?

In a bid to maximize utilization of its own semiconductor foundry for manufacturing larger, more profitable processors, Intel could be look at contracting TSMC to manufacture certain processors based on its low-power CPU microarchitectures, according to a new Intel job posting discovered by Komachi Ensaka. The job description for a position in Intel's Bengaluru facility, speaks of a "QAT Design Integration Engineer" who would play a role in the "development and integration of CPM into Atom and Xeon-based SoC on Intel and TSMC process."

QAT is a hardware feature that accelerates cryptography and data-compression workloads. Since the Xeon part in this sentence is referenced next to SoC, Intel could be referring to Xeon processors based on low-power cores, such as "Snow Ridge," which uses "Tremont" CPU cores. The decision to go with TSMC could also be driven by the 5G infrastructure hardware gold rush awaiting the likes of Intel across dozens of new markets, particularly those averse to buying hardware from Huawei.
Sources: Komachi Ensaka (Twitter), Dr. Ian Cutress (Twitter), Tom's Hardware
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22 Comments on Intel to Outsource Atom and Low-Power Xeon Manufacturing to TSMC?

#1
R0H1T
Why is this a question? Intel used TSMC at various points in the past, if they can't keep with them then they'll have to move some of their products over there. Though I'm not sure TSMC will be willing to enable Intel with some of their leading edge nodes, especially given AMD & now Apple ~ their biggest customers by far, are in direct competition!
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#2
nguyen
This deal reeks of corporate episonage :D, Intel could just conveviently grab some major R&D personel from TSMC while they are there.
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#3
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
nguyen
This deal reeks of corporate episonage :D, Intel could just conveviently grab some major R&D personel from TSMC while they are there.
It doesn't work quite like that. You take your written recipe to a restaurant's kitchen and pay the chef to follow it. There's basic interaction like "hey we use this brand oil, and that brand flour, is your recipe optimal?"
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#4
DeathtoGnomes
I wonder if they'll use the Arizona plant for this, assuming its that far into the future.
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#5
nguyen
btarunr
It doesn't work quite like that. You take your written recipe to a restaurant's kitchen and pay the chef to follow it. There's basic interaction like "hey we use this brand oil, and that brand flour, is your recipe optimal?"
Intel engineers still have to work closely with TSMC engineers right ? at the end Intel could send TSMC engineers a letters that say come join use we pay you double :D, oh and US citizenship.
Didn't some top R&D researcher at TSMC joined some failed Chinese Fab already ?

That's like when the customer liked the chef food he invited the chef to work for him :roll:
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#6
ArdWar
nguyen
Intel engineers still have to work closely with TSMC engineers right ? at the end Intel could send TSMC engineers a letters that say come join use we pay you double :D, oh and US citizenship.
Didn't some top R&D researcher at TSMC joined some failed Chinese Fab already ?

That's like when the customer liked the chef food he invited the chef to work for him :roll:
Nothing wrong with that TBH, cutting edge tech HRM already works like that since forever. The problem only starts when the chefs bring their cookbook with them on the way out.
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#7
watzupken
R0H1T
Why is this a question? Intel used TSMC at various points in the past, if they can't keep with them then they'll have to move some of their products over there. Though I'm not sure TSMC will be willing to enable Intel with some of their leading edge nodes, especially given AMD & now Apple ~ their biggest customers by far, are in direct competition!
If Intel is willing to pay, TSMC will be willing to offer their leading nodes. Considering that Intel is also a competitor, I don't think TSMC will offer them the same deal as AMD for example.
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#8
R0H1T
watzupken
If Intel is willing to pay, TSMC will be willing to offer their leading nodes. Considering that Intel is also a competitor, I don't think TSMC will offer them the same deal as AMD for example.
How does that work out? You're saying Intel is willing to pay (top dollars?) but TSMC may not give them the same deal as AMD :wtf:

Would be interesting to see which products feature on TSMC, if they're high margins it's quite possible Intel will book good capacity to ensure supply for the product's lifecycle. Though again at that point Intel might as well abandon their plans for leading edge nodes as it seems they're just not gonna catch up to TSMC anytime soon!
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#9
Sovsefanden
watzupken
If Intel is willing to pay, TSMC will be willing to offer their leading nodes. Considering that Intel is also a competitor, I don't think TSMC will offer them the same deal as AMD for example.
AMD don't get special threatment from TSMC. Only Apple gets that. Their number one customer.

This is why AMD is still using 7nm on their Ryzen 5000, 5nm is reserved for Apple. Apple always use TSMCs best process for new chips. This has been true for years.
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#10
stimpy88
TSMC is the reason none of us have the GPUs & CPUs we want this year. How can they keep taking more and more orders when they cannot fulfil the orders they already have?
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#11
Sovsefanden
stimpy88
TSMC is the reason none of us have the GPUs & CPUs we want this year. How can they keep taking more and more orders when they cannot fulfil the orders they already have?
Wafers are the problem most likely, which is why Samsung can't make much chips either
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#12
Vya Domus
stimpy88
TSMC is the reason none of us have the GPUs & CPUs we want this year.
They're also the reason why those GPUs and CPUs are that fast. Who's fault it is that they make the best nodes that everyone wants to use ?
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#13
Mephis
watzupken
If Intel is willing to pay, TSMC will be willing to offer their leading nodes. Considering that Intel is also a competitor, I don't think TSMC will offer them the same deal as AMD for example.
That's not how any of this works. TSMC doesn't care who the make the chips for, as long as they are willing to pay for them. Apple is willing and capable of paying a premium and needing as much volume as they can get, so they get 1st crack at it. AMD doesn't get any special treatment. If Intel were willing to pay a higher price, then TSMC would gladly take them on ahead of anyone.
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#14
Fourstaff
Intel is still foundry limited if this is true. Or perhaps that TSMC's foundry advantage is getting too big.
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#15
Sovsefanden
Fourstaff
Intel is still foundry limited if this is true. Or perhaps that TSMC's foundry advantage is getting too big.
They are upgrading several fabs and can't produce chips here
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#16
stimpy88
Vya Domus
They're also the reason why those GPUs and CPUs are that fast. Who's fault it is that they make the best nodes that everyone wants to use ?
Did I say anything about the quality of their products... Comprehension is King.
Fourstaff
Intel is still foundry limited if this is true. Or perhaps that TSMC's foundry advantage is getting too big.
Intel is anything smaller than 14nm limited...
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#17
AnarchoPrimitiv
Sovsefanden
AMD don't get special threatment from TSMC. Only Apple gets that. Their number one customer.

This is why AMD is still using 7nm on their Ryzen 5000, 5nm is reserved for Apple. Apple always use TSMCs best process for new chips. This has been true for years.
If you think the only reason why AMD is still using 7nm is because TSMC won't give them 5nm, then you don't understand the fundamental basics of capitalism. AMD is using the same 7nm node (instead of an improved 7nm EUV or 5nm node) for Ryzen 5000 because they simply don't have to use a better node to beat intel and therefore it's more profitable to AMD. Why would AMD use 7nm EUV or 5nm when they simply don't have to in order to beat intel? Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that once Intel releases Rocket Lake, AMD will release a Zen3+/XT refresh on 7nm EUV that has 100-200Mhz (maybe even 300Mhz) clock bumps that will immediately take back the crown if it is taken away from AMD, and this makes perfect financial sense (and financial sense is literally the paramount reason in any decision in our capitalist reality). Currently, AMD can produce Ryzen 5000 on the same old 7nm node because the IPC increase was that big, and therefore they can increase their profit margin, along with price increases, for the time being. Once rocket lake is released, AMD can release an XT suffix refresh on the improved 7nm EUV node, and most importantly, maintain MSRPs exactly where they are currently, while edging intel out of the performance crown once again in order to justify those MSRPs. They will continue to sell the non-XT, original variants, on the old 7nm node at discounted prices, and it's a win-win for AMD. They won't even consider 5nm because it's completely not necessary for the time being, and why would AMD spend more on costs when they're currently beating intel with the original 7nm node? It'd be ridiculous for AMD to even entertain 5nm at the current moment in time. AMD is designing Zen4 on 5nm in order to compete with Alder lake (I think that's the one, it's hard to keep Intel's "lakes" in order) on intel's 10nm Superfin process which will continue to maintain AMD's process node lead....this is why people in "the know" like Moore's Law is Dead (and whether you like him or not, for approximately one year now he's basically been correct on everyone of his leak's so there's literally no reason to doubt him) says Intel won't even be truly competitive until late 2022-2023 at the earliest.
Sovsefanden
Nvidia made a smart decision going with Samsung 8nm. AMDs 6000 series will be in insanely low supply for months and months, TSMC is overbooked. Meanwhile Ampere is flying off the shelves everywhere. People are literally standing in line to get their hands on 3000 series.

AMD can only dream of a demand like this.

Maybe 6800 buyers will get their cards in Q2 2021 :laugh:
Wow, are you completely divorced from reality? Nvidia doesn't have any "supply" advantage over AMD currently, and at least AMD has a legitimate excuse for supply shortages, namely supplying the chips for two brand new, in demand consoles, the most in demand CPU series, and a GPU series that's more efficient and arguably stronger at rasterization than Nvidia's....what's Nvidia's excuse for supply shortages....I'm seriously asking, does anyone know?
Posted on Reply
#18
Vya Domus
stimpy88
Did I say anything about the quality of their products...
You didn't and that obfuscates reality. We don't have CPUs and GPUs because TSMC is the best and everyone wants their node, as such the products are limited in quantity.

You can't say it's their fault for being the best, they can't produce an infinite amount of wafers, your reasoning is bizarre.
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#19
stimpy88
Vya Domus
You didn't and that obfuscates reality. We don't have CPUs and GPUs because TSMC is the best and everyone wants their node, as such the products are limited in quantity.

You can't say it's their fault for being the best, they can't produce an infinite amount of wafers, your reasoning is bizarre.
You call my statement of fact bizarre, because I say that they cannot meet their orders, and imply that it is not a good thing for customers? Or bizarre because I didn't say TSMC are the best?
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#20
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
stimpy88
TSMC is the reason none of us have the GPUs & CPUs we want this year. How can they keep taking more and more orders when they cannot fulfil the orders they already have?
Do we know they are not fulfilling orders as per the contracts?
Posted on Reply
#21
ODOGG26
stimpy88
You call my statement of fact bizarre, because I say that they cannot meet their orders, and imply that it is not a good thing for customers? Or bizarre because I didn't say TSMC are the best?
What he is saying is that TSMC is likely making maximum amount of wafers they can produce. Now their customers like AMD have products that have demand more than they can supply. Has nothing to do with TSMC.
AnarchoPrimitiv
If you think the only reason why AMD is still using 7nm is because TSMC won't give them 5nm, then you don't understand the fundamental basics of capitalism. AMD is using the same 7nm node (instead of an improved 7nm EUV or 5nm node) for Ryzen 5000 because they simply don't have to use a better node to beat intel and therefore it's more profitable to AMD. Why would AMD use 7nm EUV or 5nm when they simply don't have to in order to beat intel? Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that once Intel releases Rocket Lake, AMD will release a Zen3+/XT refresh on 7nm EUV that has 100-200Mhz (maybe even 300Mhz) clock bumps that will immediately take back the crown if it is taken away from AMD, and this makes perfect financial sense (and financial sense is literally the paramount reason in any decision in our capitalist reality). Currently, AMD can produce Ryzen 5000 on the same old 7nm node because the IPC increase was that big, and therefore they can increase their profit margin, along with price increases, for the time being. Once rocket lake is released, AMD can release an XT suffix refresh on the improved 7nm EUV node, and most importantly, maintain MSRPs exactly where they are currently, while edging intel out of the performance crown once again in order to justify those MSRPs. They will continue to sell the non-XT, original variants, on the old 7nm node at discounted prices, and it's a win-win for AMD. They won't even consider 5nm because it's completely not necessary for the time being, and why would AMD spend more on costs when they're currently beating intel with the original 7nm node? It'd be ridiculous for AMD to even entertain 5nm at the current moment in time. AMD is designing Zen4 on 5nm in order to compete with Alder lake (I think that's the one, it's hard to keep Intel's "lakes" in order) on intel's 10nm Superfin process which will continue to maintain AMD's process node lead....this is why people in "the know" like Moore's Law is Dead (and whether you like him or not, for approximately one year now he's basically been correct on everyone of his leak's so there's literally no reason to doubt him) says Intel won't even be truly competitive until late 2022-2023 at the earliest.



Wow, are you completely divorced from reality? Nvidia doesn't have any "supply" advantage over AMD currently, and at least AMD has a legitimate excuse for supply shortages, namely supplying the chips for two brand new, in demand consoles, the most in demand CPU series, and a GPU series that's more efficient and arguably stronger at rasterization than Nvidia's....what's Nvidia's excuse for supply shortages....I'm seriously asking, does anyone know?
Thank You. Some of these people dont know what they're talking about. Especially the ones that thinks that Intel can just pay their way in getting an decent amount of wafers from TSMC. If you're not in TSMC's inner circle then you're not getting any meaningful amount of wafer orders.
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