Intel Flexing Chip Manufacturing to Minimize Export-control Issues

By Agam Shah

October 25, 2022

A bill that released close to $50 billion to boost chip production in the U.S. was met with euphoria among chipmakers. But that joy was short-lived when the U.S. this month banned shipment of advanced chips to China.

The export controls are meant to choke China’s computing progress by denying access to U.S.-origin chip design software, silicon and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Nvidia, which has a strong presence in China, said the export controls would affect its GPU business as it wouldn’t be able to ship its A100 and H100 GPUs to the market.

The export controls complement the U.S. government’s efforts to strengthen the domestic semiconductor ecosystem via the US CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The bill opens up $39 billion in funding for companies like Intel, TSMC and Texas Instruments to open fabs on U.S. soil. About $11 billion will go to boost the R&D, education, and workforce development programs in the semiconductor sector and academia.

Intel executives at last month’s Innovation show acknowledged Chinese companies were important customers, and that it was building a manufacturing strategy to be geographically diverse. That plan will help it continue to serve customers in China.

The global expansion will help the company quickly adjust to geopolitical shifts, and continue the supply of chips without violating local regulations and restrictions. The regional supply chains will also act as failsafe to avoid chip shortages, and ensure multiple sources for materials and tools critical to chip manufacturing.

The U.S., EU and China view chips as an important pillar to advance economies in an increasingly digital world. The shortages exposed weaknesses in the global semiconductor supply chain with manufacturing largely concentrated in China, Taiwan and Korea. The prices of chips went up, and low-cost chips like power-management circuits led to U.S. and EU car companies shutting down production lines.

The chip shortage prompted the U.S. and EU to strengthen the regional chip supply chains. The U.S. passed the CHIPS and Science Act, and the European Commission is proposed its own CHIPS Act to stabilize the local semiconductor ecosystem. China and the EU have invested heavily in developing sovereign chips based on the open-source RISC-V architecture, which will cut reliance on proprietary Arm and U.S.-based x86 architecture.

Intel has restructured its manufacturing around geographic hubs in strategic areas. In September, Intel broke ground on $20 billion factories in Ohio, which CEO Pat Gelsinger called “Silicon Heartland.” The company is investing close to 17 billion euros for new factories in Magdeburg, Germany, which has been dubbed “Silicon Junction.” The company is also spending $7 billion for a new test and assembly facility in Malaysia, and is upgrading manufacturing facilities in Israel. India has been wooing Intel to open a factory, but the company has rebuffed offers.

The scope of Intel’s geographically distributed manufacturing was illustrated by a representative at the Intel Foundry Services booth at the Innovation show last month. Researchers or companies will be able to use Intel’s services to get chips made in its regional facilities while bypassing issues like export restrictions. Intel will adapt within the regional framework governing the design and deployment of chips.

For example, the European Processor Initiative – which is funded by the European Commission and is designing RISC-V architecture – will be able to get a chip made at Intel’s factory in Europe. Participants in the EPI, like SiPearl, have expressed interest in using advanced chip manufacturing facilities on European soil as the chips can be delivered quickly.

Intel is helping in the creation of a made-in-Europe chip, which boosts the company’s chances to receive factory subsidies from the European Commission’s EU Chips Act. Intel is already helping Barcelona Supercomputing Centre – which is a part of the European Processor Initiative – design chips based on RISC-V.

The export restrictions on China, which were announced shortly after Intel’s Innovation show, are wide-ranging, and executives at chip companies told HPCwire that there is a lot of confusion around the policies, and they are still scratching their heads on how it will apply to their operations.

But the manufacturing-specific limitations are clear: companies can’t export chips to China that are more advanced than 16nm or 14nm chips with 3D structures, 18nm DRAM chips, and NAND flash chips with more than 128 layers.

Beyond the limitations, Intel could work with Chinese organizations low-end chips out of their Asia facilities. But Intel may not be a manufacturing option for Chinese companies, who are making RISC-V CPU designs that require factories using U.S. technologies. The Chinese Academy of Sciences is developing a RISC-V server chip code-named XiangShan. Chinese cloud provider Alibaba is also backing the development of RISC-V chips.

Gelsinger is betting its long-term foundry strategy, called Integrated Device Manufacturing (IDM) 2.0, will be judged on the technological merits. The export restrictions could change with a new party in power after the 2024 U.S. election, and Gelsinger isn’t considering short-term distractions.

“We need to manage our cash carefully, but we are investing for the long term. That is our strategy for building the process technologies – for unquestioned leadership, five nodes and four years, as we’ve called it. We’re building the capacity to ramp those technologies,” Gelsinger said at a press conference during Innovation.

Signals of Intel’s geographic separation of manufacturing can be seen with a new consortium on chip production and design for U.S. national security applications.

The USMAG (United States Military, Aerospace and Government) Alliance, which was announced on Tuesday and is led by Intel Foundry Services, is designed to create processes that “meet the stringent design and production requirements” for U.S. military, aerospace and government customers, the chipmaker said in a release.

The alliance points to a larger effort to create political inroads to get more foundry business from U.S. customers. The program could be a pathway for similar programs it creates in Europe and China.

Header graphic: A photo from November 2021 shows employees working at Intel’s D1X factory in Hillsboro, Oregon. (Credit: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation)

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

Weekly Wire Roundup: July 8-July 12, 2024

July 12, 2024

HPC news can get pretty sleepy in June and July, but this week saw a bump in activity midweek as Americans realized they still had work to do after the previous holiday weekend. The world outside the United States also s Read more…

Nvidia, Intel not Welcomed in New Apple AI and HPC Development Tools

July 12, 2024

New Mac developer tools will leverage Apple's homegrown chips, limiting HPC users' ability to use parallel programming frameworks from Intel or Nvidia. Apple's latest programming framework, Xcode 16, was introduced at Read more…

Virga: Australia’s New HPC and AI Powerhouse

July 11, 2024

Australia has officially added another supercomputer to the TOP500 list with the implementation of Virga. Officially coming online in June 2024, Virga is the newest HPC system to come out of the Australian Commonwealth S Read more…

NSF Issues Next Solicitation and More Detail on National Quantum Virtual Laboratory

July 10, 2024

After percolating for roughly a year, NSF has issued the next solicitation for the National Quantum Virtual Lab program — this one focused on design and implementation phases of the Quantum Quantum Science and Technolo Read more…

NCSA’s SEAS Team Keeps APACE of AlphaFold2

July 9, 2024

High-performance computing (HPC) can often be challenging for researchers to use because it requires expertise in working with large datasets, scaling the software, and selecting the best user interface. The National Read more…

Anders Jensen on Europe’s Plan for AI-optimized Supercomputers, Welcoming the UK, and More

July 8, 2024

The recent ISC24 conference in Hamburg showcased LUMI and other leadership-class supercomputers co-funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU), including three of the 10 highest-ranking Top500 systems, but some other ne Read more…

Shutterstock 2203611339

NSF Issues Next Solicitation and More Detail on National Quantum Virtual Laboratory

July 10, 2024

After percolating for roughly a year, NSF has issued the next solicitation for the National Quantum Virtual Lab program — this one focused on design and imple Read more…

NCSA’s SEAS Team Keeps APACE of AlphaFold2

July 9, 2024

High-performance computing (HPC) can often be challenging for researchers to use because it requires expertise in working with large datasets, scaling the softw Read more…

Anders Jensen on Europe’s Plan for AI-optimized Supercomputers, Welcoming the UK, and More

July 8, 2024

The recent ISC24 conference in Hamburg showcased LUMI and other leadership-class supercomputers co-funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU), including three Read more…

Generative AI to Account for 1.5% of World’s Power Consumption by 2029

July 8, 2024

Generative AI will take on a larger chunk of the world's power consumption to keep up with the hefty hardware requirements to run applications. "AI chips repres Read more…

US Senators Propose $32 Billion in Annual AI Spending, but Critics Remain Unconvinced

July 5, 2024

Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, and three colleagues want the US government to spend at least $32 billion annually by 2026 for non-defense related AI systems.  T Read more…

Point and Click HPC: High-Performance Desktops

July 3, 2024

Recently, an interesting paper appeared on Arvix called Use Cases for High-Performance Research Desktops. To be clear, the term desktop in this context does not Read more…

IonQ Plots Path to Commercial (Quantum) Advantage

July 2, 2024

IonQ, the trapped ion quantum computing specialist, delivered a progress report last week firming up 2024/25 product goals and reviewing its technology roadmap. Read more…

Shutterstock_1687123447

Nvidia Economics: Make $5-$7 for Every $1 Spent on GPUs

June 30, 2024

Nvidia is saying that companies could make $5 to $7 for every $1 invested in GPUs over a four-year period. Customers are investing billions in new Nvidia hardwa Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Everyone Except Nvidia Forms Ultra Accelerator Link (UALink) Consortium

May 30, 2024

Consider the GPU. An island of SIMD greatness that makes light work of matrix math. Originally designed to rapidly paint dots on a computer monitor, it was then Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Shutterstock_1687123447

Nvidia Economics: Make $5-$7 for Every $1 Spent on GPUs

June 30, 2024

Nvidia is saying that companies could make $5 to $7 for every $1 invested in GPUs over a four-year period. Customers are investing billions in new Nvidia hardwa Read more…

Nvidia Shipped 3.76 Million Data-center GPUs in 2023, According to Study

June 10, 2024

Nvidia had an explosive 2023 in data-center GPU shipments, which totaled roughly 3.76 million units, according to a study conducted by semiconductor analyst fir Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD Clears Up Messy GPU Roadmap, Upgrades Chips Annually

June 3, 2024

In the world of AI, there's a desperate search for an alternative to Nvidia's GPUs, and AMD is stepping up to the plate. AMD detailed its updated GPU roadmap, w Read more…

Intel’s Next-gen Falcon Shores Coming Out in Late 2025 

April 30, 2024

It's a long wait for customers hanging on for Intel's next-generation GPU, Falcon Shores, which will be released in late 2025.  "Then we have a rich, a very Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

IonQ Plots Path to Commercial (Quantum) Advantage

July 2, 2024

IonQ, the trapped ion quantum computing specialist, delivered a progress report last week firming up 2024/25 product goals and reviewing its technology roadmap. Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

MLPerf Inference 4.0 Results Showcase GenAI; Nvidia Still Dominates

March 28, 2024

There were no startling surprises in the latest MLPerf Inference benchmark (4.0) results released yesterday. Two new workloads — Llama 2 and Stable Diffusion Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire