Intel has stated that it would gladly start a foundry business, but it will then do so on its own terms. Many analysts have considered this a must for Intel to continue shrink its circuits, but it is clear that Intel are not keen on playing on the same terms as the rest of the industry.
Intel are now ready with its 22nm process, that includes the new 3D transistor, also known as FinFET, and it intends to invest more into this node than it has ever done before as it is expected to have five fabs at 22nm in 2012 and several years ahead when it is expected to move over to 14nm and the new wafer size 450mm to reduce costs further, while the initial investment may be the biggest in Intel’s history.
The stride to shrink transistors is becoming more and more expensive and just in 2011 Intel is expected to spend 10.2 billion dollar on investments in fabs and new manufacturing processes. To handle the costs Intel will move toward having its fabs working at full capacity most of the time and has told Reuters that if a company like Apple or Sony said it wants to make a product on IA (Intel architecture – x86) Intel would not hesitate to take the offer.
It will not rent out its world leading fabs to anyone though and if someone wants to build a design without using Intel architectures it doesn’t like that will happen at Intel, but Stacy Smith at Intel says it is open for discussion, but it doesn’t look very likely that Intel would sign a deal with a direct competitor so in this case it would be a market doesn’t have a share of or have plans to grab.
It will be interesting to follow this development, but something that is for certain is that only the biggest will be able to afford to continue in the nanometer war and Intel made the smart choice to open up its fabs to customers that might be interested.