Intel chose the visit of President Obama to announce a new $5 billion fab in Arizona (render below). Fab 42 is being called ‘the most advanced, high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world' by Intel, and will start churning out chips on a process as potentially small as 14nm in 2013.
Obama has been wining and dining the elite of the US technology world recently, but Intel CEO Paul Otellini was conspicuously absent from the dinner table (see second image below). Clearly no slight was intended, as Otellini got a personal visit all of his own the day after.
"It is a great honour to host President Obama. Our country and this company have been built on innovation, and manufacturing has been at the heart of America's economy for over a century. We share the President's belief that with a culture of innovation we can and will retain a vibrant economy based on industries of the future," said Otellini.
"The products based on these leading-edge chips will give consumers unprecedented levels of performance and power efficiency across a range of computing devices from high-end servers to ultra-sleek portable devices," said Brian Krzanich, SVP and GM of manufacturing and supply chain.
This cements Intel's status as the semiconductor manufacturing process leader, as we haven't heard any other fabs speak much about 14nm so far. But it's telling that Krzanich referred vaguely to ‘ultra-sleek portable devices'. That's a pretty broad and undefined category, when the holy grail for Intel must be tablets and smartphones. The danger is that, using its current architecture, a process advantage alone will remain insufficient to make Intel chips competitive in mobile devices.