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Intel considers tapping TSMC to produce its 7 nm chips

CEO Bob Swan says company will make outsourcing decision in January

TSMC logo (Reuters photo)

TSMC logo (Reuters photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After being hit with setbacks in its 7-nanometer manufacturing process, Intel is considering outsourcing production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

Speaking to investors on Monday (Dec. 1), CEO Bob Swan said the company will make a final decision on outsourcing in January, according to PCMag. However, Swan stressed that Intel intends to remain an integrated device manufacturer (IDM) that produces most of its own chipsets.

Swan said the company plans to continue investing in its 7-nm process, in addition to its own 5-nm and 3-nm processes. Intel’s 7-nm chips were originally slated to be ready in the fourth quarter of 2021, but due to a defect in manufacturing technology, the company was forced to push back the release until 2023.

The talk of outsourcing has caused some to speculate on whether Intel will give up chip manufacturing and go fabless like competitor AMD, which is currently making PC processors using TSMC’s 7-nm node. Addressing those concerns, Swan said, “We’re going to continue to be an IDM and we’re going to evolve how the IDM operates going forward.”

TSMC, on the other hand, has already begun mass producing its 5-nm chipsets for clients like Apple. The Taiwanese company also held a topping-out ceremony for its 3-nanometer process fab in Tainan’s Southern Taiwan Science Park last week (Nov. 24), which is slated to begin volume production in the second half of 2022.