What Intel’s European Investments Say About Its Tech Roadmap
Intel has pledged 33 billion euros to expand its semiconductor presence across Europe. Here's what the breakdown of those funds looks like.
Intel recently announced 33 billion euros in investment across Europe as part of a decade-long plan to diversify its supply chain and capacity.
Rendering of Intel's two anticipated processor factories in Magdeburg, Germany. Image used courtesy of Intel
The U.S.-based semiconductor giant is betting on a future European "Silicon Junction," providing end-to-end semiconductor services, from research and development and manufacturing all the way to packaging. While this influx in investment supports Intel’s own Integrated Device Manufacturer (IDM) 2.0 strategy, it also buoys the European Chips Act’s vision of doubling European semiconductor production capacity from 10% of the world’s capacity to 20% by 2030.
Here is a brief overview of some of Intel’s investments in Europe so far and what we know about its plans for the next decade.
Fab 34 Upgrade in Ireland
In early 2022, Intel shipped its first batch of equipment to its Fab 34 in Leixlip, Ireland, as part of a capacity upgrade project worth 7 billion euros. This was Intel's first major step in the project since the company announced its plans to double Ireland’s manufacturing space in 2019.
The equipment upgrade included lithography resist tracks shipped from Oregon, which will be used with the facility’s extreme ultraviolet (EUV) scanner, providing precision in the coating and UV exposure of silicon wafers. This would also make the plant capable of producing chips using Intel’s 4 (7 nm) node technology by 2023.
Lithography resist tracks arrived in Fab 34 in early 2022. Image used courtesy of Intel
The upgrade of the Fab 34 facility in Ireland is expected to result in 1,600 full-time, high-tech jobs, bringing 2.75 billion euros annually to the Irish economy, and 6,000 construction jobs at the height of the facility’s upgrades.
Fabrication Facilities in Germany
Intel and the German federal government recently inked a deal for two planned fabrication facilities in Magdeburg, Germany, representing a 30 billion euro investment from Intel.
The facilities will be capable of Angstrom-era manufacturing for technologies such as RibbonFET and PowerVia, which will be the first of its kind for Intel and for Europe. Construction is expected to begin within four to five years.
German officials and Intel’s chief global operations officer signing an agreement that will result in Angstrom-era manufacturing capabilities in Germany. Image used courtesy of Intel
The project is expected to create 3,000 full-time, high-tech jobs and up to 7,000 construction jobs during the peak of building. Intel plans to leverage talent from German and European academic institutions, including both universities and vocational schools.
R&D, Testing, and Assembly in France, Spain, and Poland
Other European investments by Intel include building a European R&D hub in France, intended to become the company’s headquarters for high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI). This would result in 1,000 full-time, high-tech jobs in the country.
Intel is also collaborating with Spain to expand the Barcelona Super Computing Center (BSC) through joint labs. BSC has already been working with Intel on exascale architectures and plans to develop zettascale architectures.
Last, but not least, Intel has invested 4.6 billion euros to construct a semiconductor test and assembly facility near Wrocław, Poland. This facility is expected to result in 2,000 full-time, high-tech jobs, as well as thousands of jobs to support the design and construction of the facility. The test and assembly facility is expected to go online by 2027.
A Shift in the Semiconductor Supply Chain?
Although the global semiconductor supply chain has historically been dominated by Taiwan and South Korea, concerns about supply chain security in the face of geopolitics, natural disasters, and other global emergencies—compounded by the world’s ever-increasing dependence on advanced technology—are driving chipmakers like Intel to reevaluate their regional policies and strategies.
While Intel has heavily focused recent investments in Europe, the company has also announced an agreement with the Israeli government to build a chip manufacturing facility in Kiryat Gat, amounting to $25 billion.
In addition to improving its overall supply chain security, Intel is also tackling other supply chain-related challenges, such as sustainability. The company has a goal of using water conservation, recycling, and reclamation to result in net positive water use. The company is also transitioning operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030.