Intel invests $20 billion in two Arizona factories, 7nm chips coming in 2023

It wants to be the company to build chips for Qualcomm and even Apple.


Intel's new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, isn't wasting any time in ramping up the company's engineering capabilities. In a press conference today, he announced the company's "IDM 2.0" strategy, which kicks off with a $20 billion investment in two Arizona fabrication plants. That'll make Intel a stronger force in the chipmaking business, both when it comes to making its own hardware, as well as chips for partners. Additionally, Gelsinger revealed that the company's first 7nm chip, the long-delayed Meteor Lake, will have its design finalized in the second quarter of this year. We won't see that CPU ship until 2023, however, a year later than the company previously suggested.

“Intel is the only company with the depth and breadth of software, silicon and platforms, packaging, and process with at-scale manufacturing customers can depend on for their next-generation innovations," Gelsinger said in a blog post. "IDM 2.0 is an elegant strategy that only Intel can deliver – and it’s a winning formula.”

Gelsinger kicked off his presentation by acknowledging Intel's struggles with producing 7nm chips, something he attributed to delays that began with its 10nm architecture shift. Moving forward, he says Intel plans to use extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) in a redesigned production process. But while the company is investing more in its own fabrication plants, it'll still need some help from third-party foundries to build its 7nm chips, Meteor Lake and Granite Rapids for datacenters. Think of it like a stopgap solution: Intel can't push production too much until its new facilities are ready, so it's enlisting a bit of help.

As part of its push to be more of a fabrication giant, the company is launching a new segment called Intel Foundry Services. Gelsinger mentioned that Intel is currently working with partners, including Amazon, Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft. But he pushed a bit further during a Q&A session with press, saying that he's even pursuing Apple's business. Naturally, there's plenty of skepticism about Intel's bold ambition. When asked how Intel plans to balance commitments to partners, even though it's had trouble making its own production commitments, Gelsinger noted that IFS will be run as its own business unit, and that Intel is aiming to honor its promises to partners.

"Intel is back," Gelsinger said. "The old Intel is now the new Intel as we look forward to the future."