Intel has announced a huge change to its business that will see it produce other companies’ chips as well as its own. The new push into the foundry business will see the company make chips for a variety of tech companies — which means we could once again see Intel producing chips for Macs, maybe even the Apple Silicon chips themselves.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger shared the news (opens in new tab) around Intel’s plans, announcing the creation of an independent “Intel Foundry Services” and a $20 billion investment to open several new chip factories in Arizona.
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That’s not all: the new foundry unit aims to turn out ARM and RISC-V chips, positioning Intel to better respond to the industry's move towards ARM-based computing. This has become increasingly popular through Qualcomm Snapdragon-based laptops and Apple M1 MacBooks.
Gelsinger just said that Intel, which is ramping up a foundry business to manufacture chips for other companies based on their designs, will court Apple as a customer. The age of the Intel Mac might not be over just yet.March 23, 2021
Intel was long a leading light of the Silicon Valley titans, but it has struggled in recent years to keep pace with the rapid shift to the mobile market. Meanwhile, companies like Nvidia, Apple, and Qualcomm have leaned more heavily on the likes of Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and others. TSMC exclusively produces the Apple Silicon and A-series chips used in the iPad Pro 12.9 (2020), iPhone 12, MacBook Pro with M1 and other such Apple devices.
Seeing how TSMC is the exclusive supplier for these components, could we yet see another team-up between Apple and Intel? Even with Intel's recent ad campaign mocking Macs, it doesn't seem too far farfetched; it would allow Apple to keep a more flexible supply chain while taking advantage of Intel's new manufacturing capability. It's certainly food for thought.
By building a stronger U.S. supply chain and easing the semiconductor crisis (opens in new tab), Intel could also look to usher in new business from Western governments, which have reportedly signaled their interest in Intel's Foundry business. That said, although Intel welcomes political efforts to grow the US chip sector, Gelsinger said the opening of the new foundry isn't reliant on political involvement.
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