Intel reveals first customers and tech breakthroughs for foundry business


Intel has set out its growth roadmap for Intel Foundry Services (IFS), as it looks reclaim share from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and Samsung.

Announced during its Intel Accelerated webinar yesterday, the company said it is to begin building chips for Qualcomm Inc and packaging them for, and has set itself a 2025 deadline to establish a leading position in the global market.

It plans to release five generations of chipmaking technologies before then.

"There have been many, many hours of deep and technical engagement with these first two customers, and many others," said Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (pictured), who has headed the company since February.

Qualcomm is to lean on Intel's 20A chips, which utilise two breakthrough process technologies, RibbonFET, Intel’s first new transistor architecture in more than a decade, and PowerVia, an industry-first for backside power delivery.

Following on from Intel 3, Intel 20A marks the transition to a new generation, "where engineers are crafting devices and materials at the atomic level – the angstrom era of semiconductors", Intel said (see diagram).

Ann Kelleher, SVP and GM of Intel's technology development, added: “Intel 20A will be another watershed moment in process technology with two ground-breaking innovations: RibbonFET and PowerVia.”

Amazon, meanwhile, will continue to produce its own data centre chips for AWS but will turn to Intel for its expertise in their assembly – or packaging. Intel has said that packaging is becoming "even more important to realising the benefits of Moore’s Law" and AWS will be the first customer to use the IFS packaging solutions.

“Building on Intel’s unquestioned leadership in advanced packaging, we are accelerating our innovation roadmap to ensure we are on a clear path to process performance leadership by 2025,” Gelsinger said during the webinar.

“We are leveraging our unparalleled pipeline of innovation to deliver technology advances from the transistor up to the system level. Until the periodic table is exhausted, we will be relentless in our pursuit of Moore’s Law and our path to innovate with the magic of silicon,” he added.

All in the name

Taking a lead from its competitors – and to assist its customers – Intel will also name its new chips in a similar way to TSMC and Samsung.

On this, Intel said the industry has "long recognised" that traditional nanometer-based process node naming stopped matching the actual gate-length metric in 1997.

As such it has introduced a new naming structure for its process nodes, creating "a clear and consistent framework to give customers a more accurate view of process nodes across the industry".

“The innovations unveiled today will not only enable Intel’s product roadmap; they will also be critical for our foundry customers,” Gelsinger said.

He added: “The interest in IFS has been strong and I’m thrilled that today we announced our first two major customers. IFS is off to the races!”