The US chipmaker Intel said that its planned investment of US$20 billion in a new semiconductor factory in Europe may be distributed among several EU member states because it lobbied to win the EU’s financial and political support for the project.
The CEO of the group, Pat Gelsinger, recently met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to discuss Global chip shortage This has hit industries in Europe and other regions.
His visit was issued after the European Union signaled that it could provide a large amount of funds to help the European Union achieve its new goal of doubling semiconductor production to 20% of the global market by 2030, including manufacturing the most advanced chips.
In an interview with the Financial Times, executives of the chip manufacturer said that if Intel’s requirements for a new European manufacturing plant are met, it may bring “EU-wide benefits”, thereby increasing the expansion of facilities and services to Multiple member states to support the possibility of chip production.
“We can put manufacturing in one location and packaging in another,” said Greg Slater, Intel’s vice president of global regulatory affairs, a member of the team exploring the possibility of expansion in Europe. Research and development can also be shared among EU countries, and spending with European suppliers will increase “dramatically”.
“We are fully capable of making it an ecosystem-wide project, not just a few isolated paths in a member country,” he said. “We do believe that this is a project that will benefit all of Europe.”
In addition to financial support, Intel is also looking for a site covering about 1,000 acres with a well-developed infrastructure that will be able to support up to 8 chip manufacturing facilities, called fabs, and can attract talent. Intel has already inspected countries including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium to explore the potential of establishing factories. A decision is expected to be made at the end of the year.
He said that initially two fabs will be established, with a total cost of approximately US$20 billion for 10 years of operation. Intel executives said that in the entire life cycle of the factory, the total investment may exceed 100 billion US dollars.
French officials said that Intel is considering the introduction of fairly advanced 10-nanometer chip technology or better technology into Europe. Discussions continue on whether this is suitable for the needs of European customers who currently rely on more mature technologies. An official said: “It takes a lot of money to position yourself on the most advanced technology.” “We are studying what is feasible and what is desirable.”
State aid is essential to ensure the competitiveness of factories. “The cost disadvantage in Asia is 30% to 40%…. Much of this is due to government support,” Slater said.
However, French officials said that Intel is not just looking for alms. “They are studying the ecosystem, the location of the site… it is not just a question of what a country will give them in terms of money. It is a complex set of factors.”
Intel said it also “considered the value of being close to European customers, which will put us in a better and stronger position to meet their growing needs.”
Thierry Breton, Brussels single market commissioner and in charge of industrial strategy, once said that Europe should eventually be committed to producing the most advanced 2nm chips.
However, given the high cost and complexity of producing advanced semiconductors, his ambition has raised concerns that Europe may waste money.
Jacob Wallenberg, one of Europe’s most respected industrialists, told the Financial Times that although he understood ambition, there were huge risks. “The question is whether you can catch up. It will be unfortunate if we embark on a path that is too costly but does not really solve the problem.”
As part of a multi-year strategy to catch up with Asian semiconductor giants TSMC and Samsung, Intel will invest US$20 billion to build two new factories in the United States and another US$7 billion to double the production capacity of its Irish factory. The organization said it also plans to bring its most advanced 7nm chip production to the Irish factory.