Intel to enter the Angstrom nanometer chip era with US$88 billion 'made in Europe' processor investment
Europe will be achieving semiconductor foundry independence in one fell swoop, it seems, as Intel just announced a decade-long US$88 billion investment into "made in Europe" silicon as part of the EU Chips Act. First in line is a new US$19 billion Intel processor factory in Magdeburg, Germany that is scheduled to break ground in 2023 and start churning out chips in 2027. "The new fabs are expected to deliver chips using Intel’s most advanced, Angstrom-era transistor technologies, serving the needs of both foundry customers and Intel for Europe and globally," says the chip maker, adding that it has chosen Germany as the ideal place for a new "Silicon Junction."
While waxing poetic about the country's "top talent, superb infrastructure and an existing ecosystem of suppliers and customers," Intel moves on to the numbers that are most likely to please German regulators like the creation of 7,000 foundry construction jobs and then 3,000 permanent positions there, as well as tens of thousands of new positions across its new supply chain infrastructure in Europe. The rest of the US$88 billion Intel investment planned for Europe over the next decade will go to an R&D and design hub in France, as well as "R&D, manufacturing and foundry services in Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain."
With the current coronavirus pandemic-induced chip shortages on full display, the strategy of predominant reliance on Asian foundries for the world's semiconductor needs has proven rather weak and Europe will be well on its way to achieve chipmaking independence with Intel's huge investment there, according to its CEO Pat Gelsinger:
Our planned investments are a major step both for Intel and for Europe. The EU Chips Act will empower private companies and governments to work together to drastically advance Europe’s position in the semiconductor sector. This broad initiative will boost Europe’s R&D innovation and bring leading-edge manufacturing to the region for the benefit of our customers and partners around the world. We are committed to playing an essential role in shaping Europe’s digital future for decades to come.
As to the kind of technologies that Intel plans to bring to the Old Continent with the new German foundries, suffice it to say its mention of Angstrom-era transistors. That's Intel's euphemism for chips built on production processes in the fractional nanometer era that's numbered on a tenth of a nanometer scale, an Angstrom. Getting back to Earth, Intel will use an expansion of its current Leixlip, Ireland plants to produce its future 7nm processors built on the Intel 4 node with modern EUV lithography. With those, the total Intel investment in Ireland is expected to hit US$33 billion. Needless to say, all the new Intel fabs in Europe will comply with European Commission's environmental goals, too, unlocking the "100% renewable energy and zero total waste to landfills" achievements.