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Intel Upgrades Hardware

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

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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  • Monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by voxner ( 1217902 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:49AM (#40611289)
    This is an ominous sign of things to come. Intel already has significant advantages [ieee.org] in the foundry business. These could be leveraged further to give its x86 chips a boost vis-a-vis ARM. The other players need to pull their act together & pool resources to counter this. If there is no level-playing field because the foundries can't keep up we could well be facing an x86 monopoly in the low-power chip market too.
  • Re:Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:25AM (#40611741) Journal

    I'm a HUGE Intel fan. Really, I am. But they have a rather serious Windows dependency they need to be quit of before they're ready to take on ARM, no matter what their process technology is, nor how fabulous their fabs. They are in serious danger of losing the plot.

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

    And then Apple came and reminded us that the purpose of the widget and the OS is not to sell more OS and more widget. It's to serve people in ever-evolving ways. To enable and empower people to do what they want to do, and get out of the way the rest of the time. To connect us to the things and people we care about. They came out with the iPhone, and then the iPad. They gave us what we had long craved.

    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.

    In 2005 the talk was about "the next billion users". It was always obvious that the next billion users wouldn't have watts. Well, Apple and Google have found that next billion users even faster than predicted. They're (we're) mobile. Between Android and iOS, they've sold nearly a billion devices - by the end of this year they'll get there - and now by ignoring the needs and wants of people Intel is in for a hell of a fight.

    Even now their Windows pal is abandoning them, developing a new version of Windows without the chrome that requires their power-hungry CPUs, slimming it down to the point where a 7-year-old system is more than adequate and pricing it at a spot that's going to give legs to legacy systems and also building ARM-based systems under their own brand. That's going to kill new unit sales in every possible way for Intel. They had a good stretch where they got to milk that special relationship, but it's over now and then need to think about what next to do.

    There are trust issues here that are very delicate. Buyers are not going to want to buy gear that leads back to the Bad Old Way where progress was slow.

    I hope Intel figures this out. Really I do. But in the meantime I'm going to buy the kids, and Mom, Nexus 7 tabs for Christmas. My youngest son is almost old enough to teach how to build Android apps.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford