Business, Hardware

Is Intel Shutting Down Promised Updates For 22nm?

Irish rumors are that Intel will hold off for a year on their promised updates to Fab14 in Leixlip, Ireland. The subcontractors, who were hired to do the refurbishing, are now saying they will not see any Euros from that project for a long while.

Earlier this year Intel was talking about another $500 million upgrade to the second Irish Fab (24) from 90/65nm directly to 22nm (also in Leixlip – near Dublin, Ireland). Interestingly BSN* was having lunch near the Intel HQ last week and some of Intel?s staff was mumbling over their Chicken Marsala. They were whispering about Israel Fab getting more of the 22nm work load from Ireland?s Fab 24 and the potential downsizing of Fab 14.

According to rumors, the reason why Intel feels uneasy is exactly the indecisions happening behind closed doors at HPIs Intel?s capex slowdown mainly caused by Hewlett-Packard?s recent indecision about their Personal System Group products that BSN* wrote about? This week at IDF, Hewlett-Packard and Intel are having a breakfast meeting to explain their future plans. (Hopefully indecisiveness will not be on their menus – Ed.)

Intel had previously listed as 22nm facilities its two development fabs in Oregon as well as Fab 28 in Israel and Fab 32 and Fab 12 in Arizona. On Day Zero of IDF Intel’s press people said that Fab 24 is still producing chips. But, they didn’t answer any questions about what nodes they were producing.

Citigroup?s Timothy Arcuri thinks Intel?s decision not to update Fab 24 to 22nm could mean $2 billion less in capital spending by the company in 2012. C.J. Muse, an analyst at Barclays Capital, also said sources indicate that Intel has removed its Fab 24 in Leixlip, Ireland, from its 22nm roadmap. If true, that will mean a lot less sales for the equipment manufacturers. Or is it a sign that Intel R&D is really having those rumored problems with their next node downsizing following the decision to focus on low power process node (Intel code: P1271) for the next generation ultra-low-power Atom SoC (codename: Silvermont), rather than having just one, high performance node which is the P1270 (22nm-HP).

Clearly Apple?s iPad sales volume to consumers has taken its toll with Intel X86 ODM (original design manufacturers). The Atom X86-based product line is not seeing any landslide of tablet shipments nor do they have many smartphone design wins. Possibly Microsoft?s Windows 8 will jump start the X86 tablet sales. However, Windows 8 is also promised to run on the ARM-based partners CPUs.

Hopefully at IDF we will learn if there is a real decision on who will build the Intel 22nm node chips.