by Anton Shilov
11/01/2010 | 09:38 PM
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world's largest contract maker of chips, said that it did not see Intel Corp. as a threat to its foundry business even after the latter decided to give one of TSMC's customers access to its 22nm process technology, an unprecedented decision for the chip giant.
Achronix Semiconductor Corp. has been manufacturing its field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) using TSMC's 65nm fabrication process. But on Monday the company said that Intel had granted its access to its own 22nm manufacturing technology for its future FPGAs; as a result, the contract maker lost a customer. Nonetheless, TSMC said it was "not worried about some potential challenge posted by Intel, and will remain its lead in the contract manufacturing business through continuous R&D efforts", reports DigiTimes web-site.
Intel has never made any chips for third parties. However, the company may need certain products that it cannot make itself to exist in order to sell its microprocessors. For example, the USA military institutions want everything they use to be manufactured in the U.S., which means that Achronix would never make chips for those organizations at TSMC.
Another question is what percentage of Intel's manufactured capacity is utilized. Over time the company may try to somehow enter contract manufacturing business to keep all of its capacities utilized fully at all times since state-of-the-art process technologies and production tools can pay for themselves only when used massively.