“What we’re asking from both the US and the European governments is to make it competitive for us to do it here compared to in Asia,” Gelsinger was reported saying.
US$10 billion could represent the typical life time cost of a medium sized wafer fab, but possibly just a third of the cost of a large-scale leading-edge wafer fab that can move down to the 2nm manufacturing node. At present Intel is itself struggling to bring up its own 7nm manufacturing process.
Earlier on the same day Breton had held meetings with Maria Merced, the president of TSMC Europe and representatives of Samsung Electronics. These two companies are the technical leaders in chip manufacturing with both able to produce at 5nm and heading towards 3nm. Breton said the video call with Merced had been a “good exchange” while the meeting with Gelsinger was an “in-depth discussion.”
It appears that the interests of the European Union and Intel are the more closely aligned. European politicians want to reverse a decline in the volume and technical capability of European chip manufacturing. Intel, which has also struggled over the last decade, wants to re-invigorate its own manufacturing capabilities and has declared an intent to re-enter the foundry chip business.
Gelsinger has also said that continental Europe would be best location for a new fab; although Intel already has a major fab complex in Ireland. Germany and Benelux would appear to be the most likely location candidates.
Commissioner Breton is expected to spreak with the CEOs of lithography equipment company ASML Holding NV and NXP Semiconductors NV on Tuesday May 4.
Gelsinger has travelled on to Israel where he is expected to announce a $200 million investment at the company’s wafer fab campus in Kiryat Gat. On Monday Intel is also announcing an investment at its wafer fab I Rio Rancho, New Mexico. This is reported to be worth $3.5 billion.
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