Recent headlines suggest that Intel was not transparent about some of the products they showed at the CES keynote. Intel confirmed on Friday that they used ARM-based chips for some of the products but would not say which ones. When your company’s tag line is “Intel Inside” and you hold up a product during your keynote wouldn’t one assume that Intel was actually inside?
Today saying someone is not transparent really means they are being deceptive and when that someone is the CEO of a publicly traded semiconductor company it is serious business, my opinion. Even more glaring is the Intel claim of a 35% density advantage over TSMC at 14nm. This was presented during the November 21[SUP]st[/SUP] 2013 Intel analyst meeting. There is a barely noticeable disclaimer in the bottom right corner that says:
Sources: TSMC keynote, ARM Tech Con 2012, Oct. 30, 2012. Intel data alignment based on internal assessment.
This goes to my argument that Intel is NOT serious about the foundry business. They used a trade show marketing presentation from 2012 for this technical analysis? Is that the best the mighty Intel can do for competitive information?
Based on a thorough investigation by myself and just about every other company in the fabless semiconductor ecosystem this claim has proven to be absolutely FALSE. I write this now so when silicon is out and scrutinized we can go back and see who was telling the truth. Spoiler alert: It is not Intel!
The other interesting Intel news is that their big 14nm fab in Arizona will not be in production anytime soon. The delay was called a “minor correction”. The real reason for the delay, in my opinion, is so that Intel can continue to claim 80% capacity utilization so Wall Street does not downgrade INTC stock. If Intel counted idle fabs, their capacity numbers would be closer to 50% than 80%.
The other big news is that TSMC 20nm is in full production. We already knew this but it is nice to see TSMC talking about it:
“We have two fabs, fab 12 and fab 14 that complete the core of the 20nm-SoC. As a matter of fact, we have started production. We are in the [high]-volume [20nm] production as we speak right now,” said C. C. Wei, co-chief executive officer and co-president of TSMC, during a conference call with investors and financial analysts.
Do you remember last year TSMC said on a conference call that 20nm would be in volume production Q2 2014? And I said they were being cautious, that it would happen in Q1 2014? I know things, believe it. TSMC also said 20nm will account for 10% of wafer revenues in 2014 which would be more than $2B worth of 20nm wafers.
TSMC also did a FinFET update:
Talking at the company’s latest financial meeting, Mark Liu, TSMC co CEO, claimed its 16nm FinFET process is now ready for tape out and could be in volume production this year. “Our 16FinFET yield improvement has been ahead of our plan. This is because we have been leveraging the yield, learning from 20SoC. Currently, the 16FinFET SRAM yield is already close to that of the 20SoC process.”
Let’s not forget what Mark Bohr of Intel said about TSMC last year:
“Bohr claims in TSMC’s recent announcement it will serve just one flavor of 20nm process technology is an admission of failure. The Taiwan fab giant apparently cannot make at its next major node the kind of 3-D transistors needed to mitigate leakage current, Bohr said.”
TSMC 16nm is a FinFET version of 20nm, right? Maybe Mark saw that in a marketing presentation years ago? Intel, you really are better than this. If you don’t have something transparent to say maybe you should say nothing at all.