[News] Intel Teams Up with UMC to Pursue 12-Nanometer Technology, Production Expected by 2027

2024-01-26 Semiconductors editor

Intel announced on the evening of January 25th that it will collaborate with UMC to develop 12-nanometer process platform technology. The production will utilize Intel’s wafer fab capacity in the United States, and both parties will share the cash generated from the collaboration. The production is expected to commence in 2027.

This marks Intel’s first collaboration with a Taiwanese foundry in process development. Intel is actively venturing into the foundry business, and this collaboration with UMC not only marks a new milestone in the Taiwan-US semiconductor foundry industry but also initiates a new competitive relationship in the global foundry industry.

Intel and UMC have not disclosed the expected investment amount for their collaboration. UMC stated that the investment amount cannot be disclosed as the collaborative technology will not enter production until 2027, at which point it will begin contributing to revenue.

Therefore, the investment will be shared by both parties. Regarding whether they will advance towards more advanced processes, UMC stated that they do not respond to distant matters and primarily focus on financial indicators that the company can afford.

Intel noted that the collaboration with UMC to develop the 12-nanometer process platform is primarily aimed at addressing the high growth in markets such as mobile, communication infrastructure, and networking.

This long-term collaboration combines Intel’s large-scale manufacturing capacity in the United States with UMC’s extensive experience in mature processes in foundry, expanding the process portfolio while providing a better regionally diversified and resilient supply chain to assist global customers in making better procurement decisions.

The new process node, according to Intel, will be developed and manufactured in Fabs 12, 22 and 32 at Intel’s Ocotillo Technology Fabrication site in Arizona.

“Taiwan has been a critical part of the Asian and global semiconductor and broader technology ecosystem for decades, and Intel is committed to collaborating with innovative companies in Taiwan, such as UMC, to help better serve global customers,” said Stuart Pann, Intel senior vice president and general manager of Intel Foundry Services (IFS).

He further stated that, “Intel’s strategic collaboration with UMC further demonstrates our commitment to delivering technology and manufacturing innovation across the global semiconductor supply chain and is another important step toward our goal of becoming the world’s second-largest foundry by 2030.”

Jason Wang, UMC co-president, said that UMC’s collaboration with Intel on a U.S.-manufactured 12 nm process with FinFET capabilities in the United States is a crucial aspect of the company’s pursuit of cost-effective capacity expansion and technological node advancement.

UMC anticipates that this collaboration will assist customers in smoothly migrating to this critical node while benefiting from the resilience of the expanded capacity in the North American market.

UMC looks forward to strategic collaboration with Intel, leveraging the complementary advantages of both parties to expand potential markets and significantly accelerate technology development timelines.

TrendForce believes that this partnership, which leverages UMC’s diversifed technological services and Intel’s existing factory facilities for joint operation, not only aids Intel in transitioning from an IDM to a foundry business model, it also allows UMC to agilely leverage FinFET capacity without the pressure of heavy capital investments.

TrendForce forecasts that this collaboration slashes average investment by a staggering 80%, compared to the cost of new equipment. This calculation includes only the expenses related to the relocation of equipment, secondary piping costs for factory services, and other minor associated expenses for ancillary equipment.

However, the journey is not without its challenges. UMC’s 14nm process, in development since 2017, is yet to hit mass production, and its 12nm process is still in the R&D phase, with mass production eyed for late 2026. This collaboration’s mass production timeline is tentatively set for 2027, with the FinFET architecture’s stability under careful watch.

Overall, TrendForce views this alliance as a significant step. UMC brings its plentiful experience in mature processes, while Intel contributes its advanced technological prowess.

This partnership is not just about mutual benefits in the 10nm process level; it’s a watchpoint for potentially deeper and more extensive collaboration in their respective fields of expertise. In the dynamic world of semiconductor manufacturing, this Intel-UMC alliance is a fascinating development to keep an eye on.

Read more

(Photo credit: Intel)

Please note that this article cites information from Intel.