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MediaTek turns to Intel for chip manufacturing

Taiwanese chip maker MediaTek will begin manufacturing chips using Intel Foundry Services, which it says will help it ‘build a more balanced, resilient supply chain.’

MediaTek will use Intel process technologies – which Intel claims is capable of ‘three-dimensional FinFET transistors to next-generation breakthroughs’ – to manufacture multiple chips for a range of smart edge devices as part of a ‘foundry partnership’.

“As one of the world’s leading fabless chip designers powering more than 2 billion devices a year, MediaTek is a terrific partner for IFS as we enter our next phase of growth,” said IFS President Randhir Thakur. “We have the right combination of advanced process technology and geographically diverse capacity to help MediaTek deliver the next billion connected devices across a range of applications.”

NS Tsai, corporate senior vice president of Platform Technology and Manufacturing Operations at MediaTek added: “MediaTek has long adopted a multi-sourcing strategy. We have an existing 5G data card business partnership with Intel, and now extend our relationship to manufacturing smart edge devices through Intel Foundry Services. With its commitment to major capacity expansions, IFS provides value to MediaTek as we seek to create a more diversified supply chain. We look forward to building a long-term partnership to serve the fast-growing demand for our products from customers across the globe.”

Intel announced its entry into the foundry business in March last year in order to ‘help meet the surging global demand for advanced semiconductor manufacturing capacity.’ As well as factory expansions at existing sites, plans for new greenfield sites in Ohio and Germany were announced.

MediaTek designs chips rather than actually crank them out of a factory, so to speak, so it relies on fabs like that provided by Intel or global leader TSMC for production. For years the world seemed more or less content to rely on firms in Asia, particularly TSMC, for the bulk of chip manufacturing – however in recent years a supply chain crisis has led to widespread shortages, impacting many sectors since chips are used in so many more products than they used to be. This alone would probably have provided grounds for a rethink.

Layered on top of this is deepening tensions between China and the West – with many commentators openly contemplating a potential invasion of Taiwan by the Chinese military. As well as the most important concerns around the human cost of any such invasion, since this is where TSMC is based it is postulated that the chip crisis would quickly become a catastrophe for the rest of the world should it occur.

This is the backdrop to firms like Intel ramping up their production facilities in places away from a potential field of conflict or places that may soon become the sphere of influence in what would by then be an unquestionable adversary to western interests. And there’s some serious wedge being put behind the effort as well, with US legislators throwing around plans to fund the domestic US chip sector to the tune of $52 billion.

 

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