In a major move that underscores the dynamics of the global semiconductor industry, Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC) and United Microelectronics Corporation (NYSE: UMC; TWSE: 2303) have announced a strategic collaboration to develop a cutting-edge 12-nanometer semiconductor process platform.
For over 55 years, Intel has been actively investing and driving innovation both in the United States and on a global scale. The company has strategically established or is in the process of planning manufacturing sites and investments in various locations, including Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and Ohio, as well as internationally in Ireland, Germany, Poland, Israel, and Malaysia. Intel Foundry Services (IFS) has shown remarkable advancements in the past year, gaining substantial traction with new clients who have embraced the Intel 16, Intel 3, and Intel 18A process technologies. This growth is indicative of the expanding foundry ecosystem, and IFS is poised to maintain this upward trajectory in the coming year.
With over four decades of experience, United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) has established itself as a trusted provider of foundry services for essential applications such as automotive, industrial, display, and communications. During the last twenty years, UMC has not only expanded its presence throughout Asia but has also been at the forefront of innovation in both mature nodes and specialized foundry services. Serving as a key supplier to more than 400 semiconductor customers, UMC has demonstrated extensive expertise and proficiency in assisting clients in achieving high yields while maintaining a leading position in foundry utilization within the industry.
This collaboration aims to address the burgeoning demand in high-growth markets such as mobile, communication infrastructure, and networking. The partnership leverages Intel’s robust U.S. manufacturing capacity and UMC’s extensive foundry experience to create a diversified and resilient supply chain for global customers.
8 Key Highlights of Intel UMC Collaboration:
1. Market Focus and Growth Prospects:
The collaboration focuses on developing a 12-nanometer (nm) process platform, targeting high-growth markets like mobile, communication infrastructure, and networking. These markets currently use older technology nodes (14nm, 28nm) which are less efficient and powerful. The 12nm platform aims to provide better performance and cost-effectiveness for these applications.
2. Intel’s Commitment to Taiwan:
Intel’s commitment to collaborating with innovative companies in Taiwan, such as UMC, is highlighted in this partnership. Stuart Pann, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager of Intel Foundry Services (IFS), emphasized the importance of Taiwan in the global semiconductor ecosystem. The collaboration underscores Intel’s dedication to delivering technology and manufacturing innovation across the semiconductor supply chain.
3. Leveraging Expertise and Capacity of Intel UMC:
Combined strengths: Each company brings unique strengths to the table. Intel offers expertise in cutting-edge process technology and high-volume manufacturing, while UMC has extensive experience in mature node production and flexible customer service.
Accelerated development: UMC gains access to additional capacity and Intel’s R&D capabilities. This would potentially accelerate their technology roadmap and development of advanced processes.
4. Geographically Diverse Supply Chain by of Intel UMC collaboration:
The collaboration broadens customer access to a geographically diverse and resilient supply chain. Intel has strong manufacturing capacity in the US, while UMC operates in Taiwan. This partnership reduces dependence on any single region and offers customers more options for sourcing critical chips.
5. Technical Details of the 12-nanometer Node:
The 12-nanometer node will utilize Intel’s high-volume manufacturing capacity and expertise in FinFET transistor design. This combination is expected to offer a mature, high-performance, and power-efficient solution. Leveraging UMC’s process leadership and history of providing effective foundry services, the collaboration aims to optimize utilization and reduce upfront investment requirements.
6. Facility and Production Details of of Intel UMC Collaboration
The new process node will be developed and manufactured in Fabs 12, 22, and 32 at Intel’s Ocotillo Technology Fabrication site in Arizona. The utilization of existing equipment in these fabs is expected to minimize upfront investment requirements and enhance production efficiency. Production of the 12-nanometer process is slated to commence in 2027.
7. Support for Ecosystem Partners:
Intel and UMC plan to collaborate on design enablement. Supporting the 12-nanometer process involves enabling electronic design automation and intellectual properties solutions from ecosystem partners. This collaborative effort aims to create an ecosystem that facilitates a smooth transition to the new node for customers.
8. Strategic Goals
Intel’s Foundry ambition: This collaboration aligns with Intel’s goal of becoming the world’s second-largest foundry by 2030. Partnering with a reputable player like UMC expands their reach and expertise in the foundry market.
UMC’s growth strategy: For UMC, it strengthens their position as a leading mature node foundry and potentially opens doors to new markets and customers.
The partnership between Intel and UMC for the 12-nanometer semiconductor process reflects the dynamic nature of the semiconductor industry. This collaboration, leveraging Intel’s scale and UMC’s expertise, not only meets demand in high-growth markets but also bolsters the global semiconductor supply chain.