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Intel Hardware

Why Intel Leads the World In Semiconductor Manufacturing 226

MrSeb writes "When Intel launched Ivy Bridge last week, it didn't just release a new CPU — it set a new record. By launching 22nm parts at a time when its competitors (TSMC and GlobalFoundries) are still ramping their own 32/28nm designs, Intel gave notice that it's now running a full process node ahead of the rest of the semiconductor industry. That's an unprecedented gap and a fairly recent development; the company only began pulling away from the rest of the industry in 2006, when it launched 65nm. With the help of Mark Bohr, Senior Intel Fellow and the Director of Process Architecture and Integration, this article explains how Intel has managed to pull so far ahead."
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Why Intel Leads the World In Semiconductor Manufacturing

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  • by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:13AM (#39865819) Homepage Journal

    Apple is a product company. It designs its products, and then someone else makes it.. Many components like the processor are third party, and companies like APPLE design a system around it.
    After that the design goes to samsung, and its manufactured by samsung. I think samsung uses TSMC fab.

    So if apple wanted to have a 22nm chip it could
    1. Build a Fab(invest many billions)
    2. Pay TSMC and partner with them in tech (invest some billions).

    Return on investment may not justify the cost.

    As you go smaller, you do gain an area and cost advantage, but you also run into lot of issues related to physics. So 28->22nm is not easy, and its really commendable Intel has done it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:33AM (#39865897)

    The article is wrong, TI has their on fabs, they don't outsource manufacturing as the article states.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:50AM (#39865949) Homepage

    Traditionally, Intel has always been able to show lower power consumption and more than a tangible performance improvement when just doing a process shrink, but the Ivy Bridge does nothing extra in terms of performance and consumes not lower power than its older 32nm sibling

    Is there any reason the parent is at +4, Interesting and not -1, Troll? Are the AMD fanbois really so desperate that they have to mod up blatant lies? Ivy Bridge uses 25-30W lower power at stock speed to deliver marginally better than SB CPU performance and considerably better (but still crappy) GPU performance. The only people that whine are those who want a 4.5+ GHz overclock. Anandtech called it quite possibly the strongest tick [Intel] has ever put forth [anandtech.com], but I guess if you don't like reality you can invent your own.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:53AM (#39865969)

    Most of the complaints are tiered towards the overclocking space; doesn't go as far as the old sandy bridge.

    http://www.overclockers.com/intel-i7-3770k-ivy-bridge-cpu-review /

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5771/the-intel-ivy-bridge-core-i7-3770k-review /


  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:06AM (#39866417) Homepage Journal

    > but that isn't Intel's fault.

    Actually it is, to at least some extent. Go back a few years, when Intel was making misstep after misstep, and AMD was coming on gangbusters with K8. At that point, Intel had missed the market so badly that had they been AMD they would have gone under. They weren't AMD, they were Chipzilla. AMD enjoyed a good product cycle with K8, until Intel managed to come back. But they didn't enjoy the great product cycle they should have. Their great product cycle was turned into a merely good product cycle because Chipzilla twisted a few arms and kept K8 out of key opportunities.

    The other piece of reality is that Intel combines first-rate process technology with first-rate design capability. (I say "capability" because more than once they've shown themselves to be very capable of letting their eye off the ball, design-wise.)

    AMDs biggest problems have always been financing and less-than-best process technology. Bulldozer is a misstep, agreed. But it's not a misstep of the degree of Netburst or IA64. Had K8 gotten the success it deserved, AMD would have been better able to properly fund their design shop. That wouldn't have helped their process problems, however.

    The simple fact is that the way things are today, Intel can afford to screw up badly, and can recover. None of their competitors can.

  • by rimcrazy ( 146022 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:09AM (#39866431)

    Let me say a few words here as I worked in the semiconductor industry for over 28 years. So you fully understand just what it means to make a semiconductor foundry these days, here is a thought experiment for you I worked a few years back.

    1) You want to build facility for manufacturing wigit.
    2) That facility will cost you between 3b to 5b dollars.
    3) In order to justify the ROI on that facility you need to take at least 5% total world wide market share for that wigit
    4) You get to scrap your factory in 3 years.

    My numbers may be a little outdated today but that only means my cost projections are too low as well as the total market share. From simply an accounting standpoint this is nuts. When I got into the business in the early 70's there were hundreds and hundreds of fabrication facilities. Every start-up had it's own fab. Today you can count the premier companies that have fabs on maybe 1 hand and the total number of significant players in the semiconductor market with their own fabs on both hands.

    Intel deserves very high kudo's for what they have accomplished. The risk they take is enormous but they demonstrate time and time again what a manufacturing powerhouse they really are.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:56AM (#39866811)

    Anobit and P.A. Semi are fabless companies. They design chips but do not manufacture them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:00AM (#39866857)

    Intel's really in another league.

    There's a reason Intel shows yields on a log scale. Hint: it's not because it's low. The rest of the industry is reasonably happy at 50-70% yields (and everyone knows it since every buyer sees the yields on the chips its buying). That's why Intel dominates. Getting to smaller feature sizes means they can make smaller die, which means more die per wafer, which means cheaper CPUs. People arguing over little performance gain are missing the fact that going from 32nm to 22nm means Intel just cut their costs in half. But did you notice the price getting cut in half? Nope.

    There's another huge advantage having your own fab: turnaround time. When I worked at HP and HP had its own fab, turn around times (from tape-out to parts back) was 2-3 weeks. Later, fabbing a chip at an external fab, it was about 2 months, and you had to pay a lot to get that. Time is extremely valuable, and fabless companies are stuck waiting for chips. Because fabs are optimizing their own time, not their customers, because that's how they are paid.

  • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:33AM (#39867799)

    Two words: Tick Tock.

    Intel's development model [intel.com] is Tick (die shrink), Tock (new features). It's been this way for many years. Honestly, I'm not sure why you expected a Tick to have any new features. They did call Ivy Bridge a "tick plus," but even then I wouldn't expect any major overhaul in features or performance. Tick is a manufacturing process improvement, not an architecture improvement.

    As far as heat packaging, I believe others have covered that sufficiently.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:44PM (#39869605)

    So the original Athlon was a shot out of the blue, it was the first AMD chip that really competed with Intel chips. Intel had to stop sadbagging and release faster P3 chips (it was capable of making them just wasn't because it didn't need to). AMD legitimately brought some serious competition. It was badly hamstrung by having horrible, horrible motherboard chipsets, but there you go.

    Now the Athlon maintained competitiveness the next generation... Because Intel fucked up. Their Netburst architecture wasn't very good. I don't fault Intel on this, their research showed it would scale really well MHz wise, possibly up to 10GHz, so the slower IPC wouldn't matter. However it didn't, so they had a slower architecture compared to AMD. The problem? AMD wasn't updating. They just kept doing minor rehashed on the same thing.

    Then, as you say, Intel dropped Core. They hadn't been standing still, they never do. They corrected the mistakes of Netburst and made a chip that was very fast per clock. AMD was still playing with old tech and Intel pulled way ahead. Then even worse as it continued, Intel kept revising their chip, AMD kept playing with the same basic thing. Their Bulldozer launch got pushed back and back. When it finally did happen recently, it was not at all competitive to Sandy Bridge, and of course Intel now just launched Ivy Bridge.

    So AMD's initial competitiveness was no fluke, they dropped a good product. But the length it went on was kinda a fluke, since Intel screwed up, and AMD didn't do anything to work on improving their tech in a big way.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp