Intel's CEO put up a barnstorming performance during the Engineering the Future webcast yesterday evening. Gelsinger used this event as a platform to outline Intel's path to manufacture, design, and deliver leadership products. Major announcements of the evening included; Intel's IDM 2.0 plans with an outline of expenditure and strategic partnerships, some insight into how Intel is handling its transition to 7nm, an overview of upcoming processors, and the announcement of Intel ON annual events (IDF-alike) starting in October in San Francisco this year.
A cornerstone of Pat Gelsinger's presentation concerned how Intel will manage to regain its mojo and live up to the expectations as the apex chip designer and maker. IDM 2.0 is a major rework of Intel's old integrated device manufacturing (IDM) plans.
First, announcing IDM 2.0 will put paid to talk of Intel selling off its foundry business, as it sets out an ambitious investment plan in this very activity. With IDM 2.0 Intel wants to become the leading provider of silicon globally and it will be expanding its facilities in the US and Europe. For example, last night Gelsinger announced a major factory build-out including a new Arizona, Ocotillo Fab which will require a $20 billion investment and will create 3,000 new long-term jobs (as well as 3,000 short term construction jobs). As well as this capital expenditure Intel plans to have spent $27 billion on R&D (from 2019) to the end of this year. Other important announcements for taking forward tech innovation were new R&D partnerships with Microsoft and IBM (IBM logic and packaging).
As well as strengthening its vertical integration, Intel reaffirms it is going to be indulging in "expanded use of third-party foundry capacity". This increased capacity and scale is perhaps basically necessary right now until Intel's investments make IDM 2.0 a reality. Once Intel's investments have delivered its new fabs it seems like the intention is to build "a world class foundry business" dubbed Intel Foundry Services (IFS). A new IFS business unit is being set up and is destined to provide "a combination of leading-edge process technology and packaging" with IP from Arm and RISC-V, as well as custom x86 designs.
Tiger Lake, Alder Lake, Meteor Lake then tick-tock
Gelsinger provided an update about how things are going right now. On the 10nm SuperFin process, Tiger Lake, he said that 30 million processors had now shipped, and you can find these processors in 150 laptop designs (including 100 Evo certified designs). Alder Lake meanwhile is sampling to customers and will deliver various breakthrough architectural advancements such as hybrid core tiles.
Intel 7nm is "progressing well" insisted the new CEO. The firm has recently increased EUV and simplified flow of the process, it was claimed. Meteor Lake is the first 7nm processor Intel has ever mentioned. This will be ready as far as its tile design IP will be verified in Q2 this year. Key Meteor Lake features include x86 architecture, using multiple manufacturing processes, and XPU IPs put together using Foveros packaging tech. Don't expect Meteor Lake products to ship in volume until 2023.
Eventually, probably following Meteor Lake, through Lunar Lake, Intel is looking to re-establish its yearly cadence tick-tock advancement strategy.
Intel ON is a new innovation event planned by Gelsinger. This annual event will follow in the spirit of IDF with a new range of Intel Vision (commercial) and Intel Innovation (engineering) outreach planned. The first Intel ON event is already planned for October 2021 as a hybrid (physical/digital) event in San Francisco.