Intel’s long-awaited investment plan for Europe has been unveiled. The American semiconductor giant has announced that it will invest 80 billion euros in the European Union over the next decade. The initial phase, which represents an investment of 33 billion euros, includes two chip factories in Magdeburg, Germany.
“The recent chip shortage has reminded us of the risks of being too dependent on one region in the short term; Today, 80% of chips are produced in Asia,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a live webcast today (March 15). “Our historic pan-European investment responds to the global need for a more balanced and resilient supply chain. We plan to bring the most advanced technology to Europe and help the EU create a European ecosystem of next-generation chips.
Intel’s Gelsinger is taking us on a European tour. However, some countries are not on the roadmap.
Even though other European countries had a lot to offer, Germany had always emerged as a strong candidate for the location of Intel’s megafab. “For a year we have been looking for European sites for this fabulous site,” said Gelsinger. “A semiconductor factory is not like other factories and has specific requirements. […] It also requires a superb infrastructure and existing ecosystem of suppliers and customers and access to world-class talent. Germany is a wonderful place. This great country has a proud tradition of manufacturing innovation. It is an ideal location to establish a new hub for advanced chip manufacturing.
Intel has announced plans to invest 17 billion euros to build two semiconductor megafabs in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt. The fabs are expected to supply chips using Intel’s Angstrom-era transistor technologies, meeting the needs of foundry and Intel customers for Europe and the world as part of the IDM strategy. integrated devices) 2.0 from the company.
Intel was subject to construction permit requirements, but Gelsinger said confidently, “Our hope is to innovate in the first half of 2023 and produce industry-leading products in 2027.”
He continued: “The plan for our initial investment is to create 7,000 construction jobs during construction, 3,000 permanent high-tech jobs at Intel and tens of thousands of additional jobs at suppliers and partners and create a broader ecosystem of linked chips. industrial and technological growth.
Intel said it has entered a period of negotiations with Italy to allow the establishment of a back-end manufacturing plant on Italian soil. If confirmed, operations would begin between 2025 and 2027.
The plant, which would represent a potential investment of up to 4.5 billion euros, should create around 1,500 jobs and 3,500 additional jobs with suppliers and partners.
“Intel plans to pursue in the country based on its planned acquisition of Tower Semiconductor,” Gelsinger said. Tower, whose $5.4 billion acquisition was announced in February 2022, has strong ties with STMicroelectronics, and Gelsinger sees the collaboration as “a catalyst for further expansion of Intel’s foundry services across the world. ‘Europe to serve key sectors such as automotive, industrial, personal electronic applications which need more tokens now.
No location was specified.
France was eagerly hoping to host Intel’s chip mega-factory. French President Emmanuel Macron met Gelsinger during the fourth edition of the Choose France operation at the Palace of Versailles on June 28, 2021. Without success.
Instead, Intel chose to take advantage of the French engineering pool. The IT group plans to build its new European R&D hub around the Plateau de Saclay, south of Paris, and create 1,000 new high-tech jobs at Intel, with 450 jobs available by the end of 2024.
“France will become Intel’s European headquarters for high-performance computing and AI design capabilities benefiting a wide range of industry sectors,” Gelsinger said. “We also plan to establish our main European foundry design center in France, offering design services and warranties to European and global French industrial partners and customers.”
As expected, Intel announced plans to expand foundry services at its plant in Leixlip, County Kildare, Ireland. “We are also continuing our manufacturing expansion in Ireland with an additional investment of €12 billion,” Gelsinger said. The expansion plan is to double the manufacturing space to bring Intel 4 processing technology to Europe and expand foundry services. When completed, it will bring Intel’s total investment in Ireland to over €30 billion.
Intel built its European manufacturing operations in Leixlip in 1989 and formed Intel Ireland as the holding company on September 29, 1989. The manufacturing plant produced its first chip in 1993.
At its center based in Gdansk, Poland, Intel said it plans to expand its lab space by 50% to develop solutions in the areas of deep neural networks, audio graphics, data centers and computing. cloud computing. The expansion is expected to be completed in 2023.
Intel’s research center in Gdansk was established in 1999.
In 20211, Intel and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) created a joint R&D lab to calculate speeds on the exaFLOP scale. Intel’s ambition was to achieve Exascale performance within the next ten years. “We are now working on the Zettascale architecture for the next decade. We plan to establish joint labs for advanced computing,” Gelsinger said.
Before making such decisions, Gelsinger had taken part in a European tour to discuss with European decision-makers, governments, national and regional organizations, as well as European companies. In doing so, he had met former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and heads of government from Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Poland.
In fall 2021, sites in Germany, France, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands were thought to be the most likely to get the green light. In October, Intel officially ruled out the UK as the site of its planned expansion of chipmaking capacity in Europe, blaming the country’s choice to leave the European Union for its decision.
Apart from strengthening long-standing R&D relationships with Imec and the Technical University of Delft, no plans have been announced in the Benelux.
Maybe it’s for phase two.
Commenting on the announcement, European Commissioner Thierry Breton welcomed Intel’s decision to “invest 80 billion euros over the next ten years to strengthen its production capacity for advanced sub-2nm semiconductors in Europe”. . He said: “This is a very significant step forward, completely consistent with our Chips Act.”
As set out in the proposed regulation, the Chips Act will mobilize €43 billion in public and private investment and will set out measures to prevent, prepare for, anticipate and react quickly to any future supply disruptions, in collaboration with Member States. and international partners. It aims to double Europe’s share of global semiconductor production to 20% by 2030.
But can a 2nm factory really help Europe achieve its semiconductor ambitions?
At the time, Gelsinger traveled across the European continent to meet officials and customers, EE Times Europe interviewed Jean-Christophe Eloy, CEO, and Émilie Jolivet, Director of the Semiconductor, Memory and Computing Division at Yole Développement (Lyon, France), to decipher Intel’s plans to build a 5nm or 2nm fab in Europe.
On the one hand, Jolivet explained, “Intel is an ally that has some of the technology that we don’t have.” On the other hand, “there will be European financial counterparties, and the question that we have always asked ourselves at Yole is why push such an advanced fab. If Intel exploited 7 nm and 14 nm [technologies]that would be enough for us.
“Does Europe need such an advanced fab? It’s not easy,” Eloy continued. Moreover, “if there is a financial support to bring to Intel of a few billion dollars, isn’t there a better use of this money in order to support the European manufacturers on the nodes on which they should produce?
Yole also questions the extent of demand for 5nm or 2nm on the continent. “There is no market in Europe in the next five to ten years,” Eloy said. “Having a 5nm factory in 2030 to support the automotive industry, which will need advanced nodes at that time for autonomous vehicles, is great. But will he fill a megafab in ten years? Not sure. The challenge is to build a cathedral in the desert. We will have a factory at the forward node, but it will produce for Americans or Asians. Consequently, the impact on Europe will be extremely limited.
Asked about Intel’s unspoken motivations in Europe, Jolivet pointed to the skilled workforce in Europe. If people are not necessarily qualified for advanced nodes, they know how to work in a clean room, specifies Jolivet. One of the problems in the United States is the difficulty of finding people to work in cleanrooms.
Eloy also brought the subject of subsidies to the table. “I have the impression that Gelsinger is looking to reduce investment costs. There is no love of Europe insofar as it comes for the sake of Germans, French and Italians.