Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. are expected to announce an alliance on Monday. The details aren’t available yet, but it is surely going to be interesting to see how the world’s biggest chip manufacturers work together.
Intel’s PR folks sent out invitations for the Monday announcement today, and the press promptly turned around and reported it. Taipei-based TSMC is the world’s biggest chip foundry, or contract manufacturer. It enables chip design companies to focus on designing chips, while TSMC manufactures them. In that sense, TSMC enables competitors to Intel.
Intel makes most of its own chips, though it sometimes strays into buying chips from foundries, thanks to acquisitions. I would expect that to continue. In the recession, Intel may have too much capacity on hand and may want to turn it over to TSMC. Intel probably has some older factories it wants to get off its hands, but TSMC may not want them. Intel might also be licensing its advanced manufacturing technology to TSMC, but that’s Intel’s secret sauce and seems unlikely. And Intel has already said it is spending $7 billion on chip factories despite the recession. We’ll see what happens.