Intel Breaks from its Past to Share Technology for New Foundry Offerings

Intel came to market at the end of IBM’s dominance, and, with IBM’s help, eventually dominated PC and server segments. But because of its timing, much of Intel’s culture was formed by the practices common during its birth. While that initially helped Intel reach dominance, some of those practices are now out of favor, particularly those focused on the proprietary nature of the company. 

Today’s technology companies, led by companies like IBM, are now focused more on collaboration, cooperation, and a far more open and sharing approach to technology advancement and production. Stuart Pann, Intel’s Senior VP and GM of Intel Foundry Services, clearly got this memo and is helping Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s current CEO, pivot the company to a more open approach to technology as part of Intel’s IDM 2.0 Strategy.  

Let’s explore this pivot that will be critical to restoring Intel to its leadership position in the semiconductor industry.

The world’s first open system foundry

One of the major growth initiatives that Stuart Pann is focusing on is an Open Systems Foundry approach. It bypasses historically monolithic system-on-chip (SOC) policies to create a more collaborative and sharing environment, making Intel’s advanced packaging technologies a key IFS differentiator, and will help Intel’s largest customers like Amazon, Cisco, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) with their own focused efforts.

One of the reasons there has been an uptick in custom processor design by large players like this has been a historic lack of cooperation with Intel. Intel is moving aggressively to put that behavior in the past and provide help and assistance, something that could make parts designed with its help more powerful and better protected than parts designed without them. With Intel’s help, customers like these should be able to build even more innovative silicon designs that deliver end-to-end, better-founded, solutions for its customers, both internal and external. 

The trick that Stuart Pann clearly gets is that it will give customers for Intel’s new foundry the feeling that they aren’t second-hand citizens and will be treated no differently than internal customers with IP boundaries and dedicated customer capacity corridors. This means implementing, also in the plan, internal foundry model processes that are consistent, enforced, and transparent to those external customers, so they know their interests are protected.  

High degree of difficulty

Intel isn’t inexperienced in this kind of effort. It has a deep history that allows it to fully assess the likely problems and expedite the creation of the foundry by avoiding mistakes that others, who are likely less experienced, might make in their stead. This foundry effort will be supplemented by existing fab capacity expansions in the U.S., EU, and Israel. Making this a global effort better assures Intel will be able to address the massively growing demand from leading-edge chips and assure the scale needed to assure related advancements aren’t hampered by future chip shortages.  

Surrounding these physical facilities is a rich ecosystem of electronic design automation (EDA), silicon IP, design services, cloud, U.S. military, aerospace, and government alliances, which creates unmatched economies of scale and collaborative structures that not only better assure eventual success but create a fast path from concept to the final product and assures that the shortages of the past remain there.  

Wrapping up:

Intel is undergoing one of the biggest internal changes it has ever attempted by moving from a largely proprietary provider of parts to a far more collaborative and cooperative company that can work with existing customers and past competitors to create a rich manufacturing ecosystem that can prepare Intel and the governments and companies working with Intel on this effort as well.  

When it is complete, the manufacturing capability Intel will provide will be unprecedented in the modern world and help assure the stability and success of the technology markets, both consumer and commercial, that depend on it.