Wednesday, March 24th 2021

Intel to Outsource a Part of 2023 Processor Production to TSMC

Intel's problems with processor production, especially with newer nodes like 10 nm and 7 nm, have been widely known. The company has not been able to deliver the latest semiconductor process on time and has thus delayed many product launches. However, things are looking to take a complete U-turn and the hell will freeze. During the "Intel Unleashed: Engineering the Future" webcast event that happened yesterday, the company made several announcements regarding the 7 nm process and its viability. We have already reported that the company is working on the new Meteor Lake processor lineup for 2023, supposed to be manufactured on the fixed 7 nm node.

However, it seems like Intel will have to tap external capacities to manufacture a part of its processor production. The company has confirmed that it will use an unknown TSMC process to manufacture a part of the 2023 processor lineup. That means that Intel and TSMC have already established the needed capacity and that TSMC has already booked wafer capacity for Intel. This has never happened before, as Intel always kept its processor production under the company roof. However, given that there is a huge demand for new semiconductor processes, Intel has to look at external manufacturing options to keep up with the demand.
Source: Tom's Hardware
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36 Comments on Intel to Outsource a Part of 2023 Processor Production to TSMC

#1
Valantar
Anyone other than me notice that 2023 is still two years out? Even if Intel 7nm were to maintain their typical naming sicrepancy to competing nodes, Apple has been on 5nm for a year, and everyone else is bound to be following them within the next year. So if Intel 7nm is equivalent to TSMC 5nm, they'll still be well behind. Makes complete sense for them to outsource, though I can't imagine that being good for the overall chip supply situation.
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#2
ZoneDymo
ValantarAnyone other than me notice that 2023 is still two years out? Even if Intel 7nm were to maintain their typical naming sicrepancy to competing nodes, Apple has been on 5nm for a year, and everyone else is bound to be following them within the next year. So if Intel 7nm is equivalent to TSMC 5nm, they'll still be well behind. Makes complete sense for them to outsource, though I can't imagine that being good for the overall chip supply situation.
Eh they managed to keep going with 14nm for a long time, who knows how much they can stretch 7nm
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#3
1d10t
ZoneDymoEh they managed to keep going with 14nm for a long time, who knows how much they can stretch 7nm
Yeah, with their "superiorest node much more densitier than TSMC" , imagine if they use "inferior filthy competitor legacy node" 7nm :p
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#4
Tartaros
1d10tYeah, with their "superiorest node much more densitier than TSMC" , imagine if they use "inferior filthy competitor legacy node" 7nm :p
We can laugh at intel at their incapability to transit to lower nodes and other failures, but the fact they are still somehow competitive is not something to scoff at.
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#5
TheLostSwede
In related news, it rained a little bit in Taiwan today.

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#6
Caring1
Well that should help with the recent water shortage.
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#7
neatfeatguy
I wonder how this will impact their pricing. Will they have to jack up pricing again, regardless of what kind of outcome in terms of performance these chips bring or will they be able to price competitively if the performance can't overtake what AMD has been dishing out?
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#8
Lomskij
There's an interesting article in FT about TSMC: apparently their market share of 10nm and smaller nodes is 90%. Most people don't realise how much of all the advanced electronics are reliant on a single company.
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#9
TheLostSwede
LomskijThere's an interesting article in FT about TSMC: apparently their market share of 10nm and smaller nodes is 90%. Most people don't realise how much of all the advanced electronics are reliant on a single company.
A single company that is located in a nation that most of the world doesn't even recognised as a country...
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#10
londiste
LomskijThere's an interesting article in FT about TSMC: apparently their market share of 10nm and smaller nodes is 90%. Most people don't realise how much of all the advanced electronics are reliant on a single company.
www.ft.com/content/05206915-fd73-4a3a-92a5-6760ce965bd9
That 90% is a Pure-play foundry revenue number. There are 2 things to note:
1. This is revenue and sub-10nm is expensive.
2. It does exclude noticeable amounts of sub-10nm chips Samsung and Intel are producing because that is not foundry business.

Edit:
Interesting, the same link from Google search opens without paywall :)
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#11
Valantar
TheLostSwedeA single company that is located in a nation that most of the world doesn't even recognised as a country...
And a country that might semi-realistically be invaded by its superpower neighbor that regards it as its own territory, should global tensions rise sufficiently for them to see a need to grasp control of global chip supplies.

It's almost as if unregulated global commerce creates monopolies, and that this might be problematic. Who could have known?


Also, of course, TSMC and all other sub-10nm lithography is again reliant on a single company for its lithography machinery, so the deeply problematic quasi-monopolies definitely don't end there.
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#12
InVasMani
TheLostSwedeA single company that is located in a nation that most of the world doesn't even recognised as a country...
I'm not sure that's saying much when China's population makes up the bulk of the world and considers Taiwan a renegade part of it's empire with a expanding perimeter.
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#13
TheLostSwede
InVasManiI'm not sure that's saying much when China's population makes up the bulk of the world and considers Taiwan a renegade part of it's empire with a expanding perimeter.
Why is what China thinks relevant? China has never ruled Taiwan, much less so the PRC.
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#14
Valantar
InVasManiI'm not sure that's saying much when China's population makes up the bulk of the world and considers Taiwan a renegade part of it's empire with a expanding perimeter.
Wait, China has more than 3.5 billion inhabitants now?
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#15
Caring1
TheLostSwedeWhy is what China thinks relevant? China has never ruled Taiwan, much less so the PRC.
I know this is off topic now, but when did the countries name change from Taiwan ROC to just Taiwan?
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#16
Flanker
Caring1I know this is off topic now, but when did the countries name change from Taiwan ROC to just Taiwan?
Taiwan has always been the name of the island and never the official name of the country. I mean, the textbooks I had in Taiwanese primary schools say (not sure if they changed it recently) ROC owns Taiwan, China, and Mongolia among others.
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#17
TheLostSwede
Caring1I know this is off topic now, but when did the countries name change from Taiwan ROC to just Taiwan?
The country has always been Taiwan. The old ROC government/KMT was technically an invading force that's occupying the island. Most KMT supporters want to either go back to or reunite with China. Most Taiwanese have zero interest in China. This is largely the fault of the US, who "liberated" Taiwan from Japan and then quickly forgot about the island. Taiwan had it's own government after the Japanese invasion ended and before the KMT invaded. But what do you do when you're a tiny nation with no army when you get invaded by a foreign force?
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#18
R0H1T
TartarosWe can laugh at intel at their incapability to transit to lower nodes and other failures, but the fact they are still somehow competitive is not something to scoff at.
It's more to do with the entrenched x86 ecosystem than anything else ~ remember Wintel? If ARM was in the desktop, or server space, Intel's stock price would be tanking right about now! Also the limited capacity at TSMC+Samsung combined. Intel are more than lucky in this regard.
ValantarAnd a country that might semi-realistically be invaded by its superpower neighbor that regards it as its own territory, should global tensions rise sufficiently for them to see a need to grasp control of global chip supplies.
If 2020 has taught us anything is that superpowers, dictatorships & the ultra rich like a status quo of sorts ~ so no the threat of China invading Taiwan is just about as much plausible as a third World War fought with "antimatter" weapons.
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#19
Valantar
R0H1TIf 2020 has taught us anything is that superpowers, dictatorships & the ultra rich like a status quo of sorts ~ so no the threat of China invading Taiwan is just about as much plausible as a third World War fought with "antimatter" weapons.
They like the status quo until it no longer benefits them, or until the benefits from radical change outweigh the associated risks, as is the situation for those in power anywhere at any time. For now, we can mostly trust that the Chinese elite is happy enough getting rich off business. But that might very well change - their actions towards the Uighurs, in HK, and in the South China Sea shows that they don't care about looking just or fair to the outside world, nor do they mind using their power. This is of course not to say that the US is any better, but it does (currently) pose less specific risk in these areas.
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#20
R0H1T
Valantartheir actions towards the Uighurs, in HK, and in the South China Sea shows that they don't care about looking just or fair to the outside world
It's hardly different than what they've done in the past or continue to do in Tibet ~ or is that old news now? There's also Vietnam just in case you forgot, the West turned a blind eye towards the invasion of Tibet nearly half a century back so why does it matter now? If the powers that be were actually serious about democracy or rule of law, human rights & all that BS we wouldn't have the Taliban, Iraq-Iran war, overthrowing democracy in Iran so on & so forth!

Which is to say that it's no big deal for China ~ just that there's an effin big sea in between & an actual invasion will unlikely be like a bloodless coup. Their only hope to integrate Taiwan is if the rulers actually hand over the key to the kingdom themselves.
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#21
TheLostSwede
Caring1I know this is off topic now, but when did the countries name change from Taiwan ROC to just Taiwan?
Oh and the current president likes Taiwan, as she belongs to the DPP which is a party mainly of Taiwanese, rather than Chinese descendants. They'd apparently have to change the constitution to change the name and that is very complicated for some reason. So the official name is Republic of China, even though it makes no sense this day in age.
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#22
Flanker
TheLostSwedeThey'd apparently have to change the constitution to change the name and that is very complicated for some reason.
Yeah, KMT still has enough influence to make that a pain. Another thing is, she is formally the president of ROC, her own title has to be changed too and there may be some chicken and egg shenanigans. Changing the constitution to finaly admit that they don't own all those other places in my former post will still piss off a lot of people for some reason. It will also be weird for folks who live on other ROC controlled islands like Kinmen and Matsu, as they never identified themselves as Taiwanese.
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#23
TheLostSwede
FlankerYeah, KMT still has enough influence to make that a pain. Another thing is, she is formally the president of ROC, her own title has to be changed too and there may be some chicken and egg shenanigans. Changing the constitution to finaly admit that they don't own all those other places in my former post will still piss off a lot of people for some reason. It will also be weird for folks who live on other ROC controlled islands like Kinmen and Matsu, as they never identified themselves as Taiwanese.
It's indeed an complex issue, which I hope will be resolved in a sensible way when time is right.
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#24
Tartaros
R0H1TIf 2020 has taught us anything is that superpowers, dictatorships & the ultra rich like a status quo of sorts
I has been always like that, we just forgot and they have become good at hiding it.
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#25
Valantar
R0H1TIt's hardly different than what they've done in the past or continue to do in Tibet ~ or is that old news now? There's also Vietnam just in case you forgot, the West turned a blind eye towards the invasion of Tibet nearly half a century back so why does it matter now? If the powers that be were actually serious about democracy or rule of law, human rights & all that BS we wouldn't have the Taliban, Iraq-Iran war, overthrowing democracy in Iran so on & so forth!
... so you missed the part where I said
ValantarThis is of course not to say that the US is any better, but it does (currently) pose less specific risk in these areas.
?
R0H1TWhich is to say that it's no big deal for China ~ just that there's an effin big sea in between & an actual invasion will unlikely be like a bloodless coup. Their only hope to integrate Taiwan is if the rulers actually hand over the key to the kingdom themselves.
I honestly don't think they'd care, if it came to that. Authoritarian regimes generally don't mind the need to exert violence on the population in order to assert their control. The response to the HK protests showed us that on a small scale within a nominally democratic and autonomous system, so if global conditions changed to such a degree that the Chinese ruling class saw grasping control of large parts of the global chip supply, those things would already be accepted as necessities of the process of taking over. The need for violence is in no way what would hold them back; the likelihood of the benefits being drowned out by the negative consequences is what does.

Which, of course, is why most superpowers throughout recent history has preferred covert action, like the US propensity to stage coups against democratically elected governments and putting totalitarian dictatorships in their place, or the Soviet propensity for industrial espionage, kidnappings and assassinations. It's just much easier to get away with that kind of stuff. But when conditions are right, authoritarian regimes (and the US does deserve some inclusion in that term) do not shy away from violent intervention - Iraq, Afghanistan, Crimea, Ukraine, and a whole host of other situations in even very recent history demonstrate that clearly.

Oh, and as for that "effin big sea" - it's, what, 100km across? That's really not a lot. Commercial ferries cover distances like that in a few hours; warships could likely do it quite a lot quicker. Heck, that distance could probably be covered with landing craft alone if one wanted a covert approach, even if it would be riskier and slower.
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