Alongside Intel’s sizable announcement today regarding their manufacturing roadmap over the next half-decade, the company is also announcing their first major customer for their third-party foundry service, IFS. And in an example of how Intel’s entry into the contract fab business is going to make for some strange bedfellows, it turns out that major customer is Qualcomm.

Per Intel’s announcement, Intel and Qualcomm are partnering up to get Qualcomm products on Intel’s 20A process, one of the company’s most advanced (and farthest-out) process node. The first of Intel’s “Ångström” process nodes, 20A is due in 2024 and will be where Intel first implements Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistors, one of the major manufacturing technology milestones on Intel’s new roadmap.

Given that 20A isn’t due out for another three years, neither company is saying much more about the partnership at this point – we’re talking about chip designs that are still in their earliest stages – but even being able to name a major customer like Qualcomm is a big deal for Intel. Not only does it show that another major industry player has a degree of faith in what Intel is trying to accomplish with its silicon lithography technology, but it helps to validate Intel’s efforts to open up into the contract fab business.

Meanwhile, an announcement like this opens the door to all kinds of speculation over just what Qualcomm will be building over at Intel. Qualcomm is best known for their mobile SoCs, and the company already has significant experience using multiple fabs as a customer of both TSMC and Samsung. So it may be that Qualcomm is looking to build a mainstream mobile SoC or two at Intel as a way to get experience working with Intel and prove that Intel’s fabs will meet their needs. Alternatively, Qualcomm may be looking to take advantage of Intel’s PC-tuned manufacturing lines to produce Nuvia-infused laptop SoCs – which would mean Intel would be directly producing competing chips.

There are a lot of possibilities here over the long-run, though in the short-run it’s likely that Qualcomm is going to play things conservatively. So suffice it to say, it will be interesting to see just what Qualcomm is using their rival’s fabs for in a few years.

Qualcomm is excited about the breakthrough RibbonFET and PowerVia technologies coming in Intel 20A. We’re also pleased to have another leading-edge foundry partner enabled by IFS that will help the U.S. fabless industry to bring its products to an onshore manufacturing site.
-Cristiano Amon, President and CEO, Qualcomm


Source: Intel

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  • Teckk - Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - link

    Intel will just buy wafers at TSMC and book capacity just so that it can defeat Apple? Spend money in 2 places? You have a nice strategy. Spend so much money thinking about Apple when it is not even currently it’s biggest client.
    Shill harder.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - link

    You seem so heavily invested in these 3 nm rumors, what if they turn out to be wrong?
  • Qasar - Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - link

    it wont be wrong.. the all mighty jian said so !! after all, it knows everything, cant you tell by its posts ??
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - link

    This has the air of one of those "predictions" that might "come true" for entirely incidental reasons. Apple don't pre-announce what nodes they're using, so anybody claiming to know anything firm about both the intended node for a product and a change of plan is probably bullshitting.
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - link

    Only a fool would see it as a good strategy for a company that spends billions on its own process tech to buy wafers from a competing foundry, for the sole purpose of bullying both its own potential customers and its competition.
  • Teckk - Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - link

    Still waiting for a logical reply to comprehend in between those LOLs and other acronyms.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - link

    BuT tHe M1 Is So PoWeRfUl ThAt X86 wIlL bE dEsTrOyEd In AlL sOfTwArE, x86 Is DoOmEd!!!1!1!111!!!!
  • Teckk - Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - link

    Even if you’re sarcastic, Apple is replacing x86 with their in house Arm design.
    Though, x86 is not going anywhere it’s here to stay in other devices. Apple is not the end of x86.
  • name99 - Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - link

    The M1 is the equivalent of the A6. Remember that? The proof that "we can do this -- but we're doing it at a fairly unambitious level, just to make sure everything is line up properly".

    Apple hasn't even released the equivalent of the A7 for Mac yet, let alone the relentless 20..30% annual improvement we saw after the A7...
  • andrewaggb - Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - link

    I'm curious whether they can continue to get those kinds of gains. There's lots of room for improvement when you're catching up... now that they're at or near the top (for single core IPC at least) it might be much more difficult to get more IPC. Lots of room for clock speed improvements, etc though.

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