Intel places order for 6nm chips from TSMC
Intel has reportedly placed a relatively large order of 180 000 wafers from TSMC, presumably parts for their Ponte Vecchio GPUs. This news is a rather huge step for Intel, as they have always held pride in the ability to produce cutting edge chips themselves. But then again, it is not unexpected, as Intel did reveal the possibility of using third-party chipmakers during their Q2 2020 earning release.
Intel probably chose the 6nm node instead of the more mature 7nm node due to the transistor density. As you might have heard of previously, their 10nm process is still superior to TSMC’s 7nm in terms of transistor density, and the 6nm process node should bring it to parity with Intel’s 10nm.
It is worth mentioning that Ponte Vecchio is supposed to be a 7nm GPU, but then again it should be alright as the GPU architecture is expected to comprise of chiplets. It is not unheard of to use different manufacturing process to make the different parts of a CPU, so I guess Intel will be doing it with their Ponte Vecchio GPU.
They might also use TSMC’s services for more than just GPUs. According to the rumors, Intel might make their CPUs on TSMC’s upcoming 5nm and 3nm processes as well, which does seem pretty odd. However considering that they are having a lot of trouble with their own production, I won’t be too surprised to see if Intel decides to offload the more affordable SKUs like the Intel Celeron and Pentium product lines to be made by TSMC, instead of hogging up their own production facilities.
The rumor then adds that Intel and AMD will be competing for TSMC’s production capacity next year. This is pretty much a given as AMD will be making their entire lineup of CPUs and GPUs at TSMC. TSMC reportedly will be churning out chips at full capacity, despite initial projections pointing to a slowdown for TSMC with them no longer accepting orders from HUAWEI.
Pokdepinion: Kudos to Intel for being able to swallow their pride to manufacture their chips at TSMC…