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Intel Upgrades Hardware

Intel Invests In ASML To Boost Extreme UV Lithography, 450mm Wafers 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the future-tech-is-bloody-expensive dept.
MrSeb writes "When Intel goes looking for new chip manufacturing technology to invest in, the company doesn't play for pennies. Chipzilla has announced a major investment and partial purchase of lithography equipment developer ASML. Intel has agreed to invest €829 million (~$1B USD) in ASML's R&D programs for EUV and 450mm wafer deployment, to purchase €1.7B worth of ASML shares ($2.1B USD, or roughly 10% of the total shares available) and to invest general R&D funds totaling €3.3B (~$4.1B USD). The goal is to bring 450mm wafer technology and extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) within reach despite the challenges facing both deployments. Moving to 450mm wafers is a transition Intel and TSMC have backed for years, while smaller foundries (including GlobalFoundries, UMC, and Chartered, when it existed as a separate entity) have dug in their heels against the shift — mostly because the shift costs an insane amount of money. It's effectively impossible to retrofit 300mm equipment for 450mm wafers, which makes shifting from one to the other extremely expensive. EUVL is a technology that's been percolating in the background for years, but the deployment time frame has slipped steadily outwards as problems stubbornly refused to roll over and solve themselves. Basically, this investment is a signal from Intel that it intends to push its technological advantage over TSMC, GloFo, UMC, and Samsung, even further."
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Intel Invests In ASML To Boost Extreme UV Lithography, 450mm Wafers

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  • good slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:38AM (#40611223)

    now this is the slashdot kind of post i remember!

  • ASML? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grouchomarxist (127479) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:43AM (#40611253)

    Who else was thinking "yet another damn markup language"?

  • Re:good slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @04:21AM (#40611935)

    Yes, actual relevant news about improvements in technology. And it's seeing way less comments (and traffic, one assumes) than the more recent article about San Francisco not buying Apple products. It's a sad state of affairs.

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bertok (226922) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @05:27AM (#40612217)

    But they have a rather serious Windows dependency

    You've got that the wrong way around. Microsoft has a dependency on Intel! Last time I checked, Linux runs just fine on Intel processors, and that combination powers a big chunk of the web. Some of the most important network appliances are BSD based, and run on Intel processors. Intel processors are also commonly used in systems like SAN and NAS arrays.

    Some eight years ago a laptop and desktop came to have the capabilities almost anybody needs.

    Citation needed.

    I heard the exact same quote when I purchased my 20Mhz 486 SX back in the day.

    For one, a typical desktop PC from 2004 probably can't play back 1080p HD video without GPU acceleration.

    The innovation should have turned on that day to making the thing thinner, lighter and smaller; to making it run all day - but it didn't.

    That's exactly what happened. You have to realize that "performance" and "battery life" are interchangeable. Increased performance at the top end allows underclocked low-voltage processors that still perform OK but draw a fraction of the power. Most of the last decade of transistor development has been about operations-per-watt. Either you get more operations per second at 100W, or it lets you stay at a constant level of operations per second while reducing watts.

    The laptop that practically re-defined what it means to be light-weight and thin is the Apple MacBook Air, which is... wait for it... Intel based.

    Instead Windows became more bloated (as it always has) to drive new product sales for Intel and GPU vendors to make ever more powerful systems to give us more beautiful chrome. That worked for a while. It was great for sales and margins back in the day.

    On the contrary. While Windows comes with a larger installer package these days, that's mostly frameworks and drivers that aren't actually in use most of the time. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 can outperform Windows XP on the same hardware in many cases!

    You have to understand that the kernel is still pretty much the same thing, except that later versions have finer-grained locks, smarter schedulers, and revised driver models that allow more parallelism. None of this is "bloat". For example, "win32k.sys" on my Windows 7 SP1 64-bit operating system is just 3 MB in size. The closest comparison is Windows 2003/XP 64-bit, which has a 4.5 MB kernel. Hence, if anything, it's been shrinking!

    They came out with the iPhone, and then the iPad. They gave us what we had long craved.

    Walled gardens that don't even have a use accessible filesystem. Now, don't get me wrong, I have an iPhone and an iPad, but you're going to have to pry my PC from my cold dead hands.

    The iPhone is great to have in my pocket, but I'm never going to sit at my desk pecking away at that thing when I could use a PC instead.

    Right about seven years ago ARM systems became "good enough" to do this and Apple released the iPod Touch - an innovative product that struck a chord with us. In 2007 came the iPhone. In 2008 Android. Ever since 2007 Intel has fiddled while Rome burned, producing "mobile" chips that burn multiple watts.

    What enabled ARM to do that is not some magic non-Intel or non-Windows approach, but reduced transistor sizes. Intel has been reducing transistor sizes too, and they're far better at it than the competition. The reason that Intel hasn't previously concentrated on the embedded market is not because they don't have the technology -- they do -- but because they saw it as a low-profit market that wasn't worth their trouble when they can be selling chips in the server market for $2,000 each. ARM's board would probably sell some of their limbs (hah!) for that market, which is why you've been seeing so many articles on Slashdot recently about ARM making inroads into the server space.

    Ig

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unixisc (2429386) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @07:44AM (#40612821)

    Well, they were confronted by the FTC, and did settle w/ AMD and all their other competitors.

    But this above story is a great reason to be a fan of Intel. Is it Intel's fault that AMD never figured out how to run its fabs, and went into a totally fabless model? Yeah, other chipmakers (like DEC at one time) did have their own fabs, and pretty good ones @ that, which due to larger mismanagement @ the company, they had to get rid of. How does one explain that HP, even in the late 90s, was fabbing the PA-RISC from Intel?

    Intel, by contrast, had a fine manufacturing model from the beginning, and has built on it. Each of their fabs are exactly cloned fabs, due to which the process variations that one sees b/w different fabs of the same company is something one doesn't see @ Intel. It spends its money really wisely in being @ the cutting edge of foundry technology, putting it years ahead of its rivals.

    I'm not a fan of the x86 architecture, but in this area, Intel is a victim of its own past success. While RISC was definitely superior, x86, being embraced like it was by Windows and its software, quickly became the standard. Intel itself had at least 3 unsuccessful home grown attempts to replace it - the i960, the i860 and the Itanium, not to mention its StrongArm acquisition as well as the fact that they could have embraced PA-RISC or even Alpha (after Compaq sold all IP to them), but the problem is that x86 was so well entrenched that when AMD took the somewhat counter-intuitive, yet simple, strategy of just extending x86 to 64 bits and were out way ahead of Intel, they looked like eating Intel's lunch. In fact, that was what ended the Intel-AMD wars for good w/ the cross-licensing agreement, and since then, if AMD had fallen behind, that's due to a combination of their own simplistic design paradigms and operational shortcomings. Incidentally, the only thing I was disgusted by was an unproven and inadequate microprocessor like the Itanium 1 being the cause of the deaths of the PA-RISC and the Alpha - both far superior CPUs - but for that, it's HP and Compaq that are to be blamed, not Intel. Intel never asked either of these companies to kill their RISC platforms - in fact, it was happily fabbing at least one of them.

    I would have loved for there to have been another company to be like Intel and challenge it. I would have loved to see a RISC processor (other than ARM) dislodge the x86. But I'm not going to hate Intel for the fact that neither of these happened - it's not Intel's job to fall on its face so that others can compete.

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:19AM (#40613051) Journal

    Well, they were confronted by the FTC, and did settle w/ AMD and all their other competitors.

    They were. They got off with a 1.5bn settlement. I personally don't believe for a moment that the settlement came even close to covering the crime.

    But this above story is a great reason to be a fan of Intel. Is it Intel's fault that AMD never figured out how to run its fabs, and went into a totally fabless model?

    Quite possibly. AMD were stomping all over intel in the P4 era. The Opteron and Athlon were vastly superior products in almost every benchmark and cheaper to boot. However Intel maintained an 80% dominance through criminal activities.

    During that time, Intel got to dump that ill-gotten profit into R&D to develop better chips and fabs, and AMD didn't. If AMD had got that enormous amount of money at that time, then history would have been very different. They would almost certainly ahve better fabs and better chips, for a start. Perhaps not quite as good as intel on the fab front, but much closer.

    So yes, it probably is intels fault. That is why monopoly abuse is exceptionally damagind and why I think it's a traversty that intel got off scott free. Actually more so. It was almost certainly a net benefit to Intel wven with the 1.5bn settlement.

    it's not Intel's job to fall on its face so that others can compete.

    That's not the problem. The problem was illegal kickbacks] and bribes.

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