Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has visited Seoul to speak with several top Samsung executives, reports the Korea Herald. The discussions, confirmed by Samsung, have sparked talk of possible new collaborative plans between Intel and the Korean electronics giant.
After attending the 2022 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gelsinger flew to South Korea and met up with Samsung executives. Around the table were Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, co-CEO and chip business boss Kyung Kye-hyun, head of Samsung Mobile Roh Tae-moon, as well as other high-ranking Samsung executives.
The Korea Herald doesn’t have any official statement or executive quotes regarding the meeting. However, it says the meet up raises expectations of collaboration between these two chip making goliaths, as the race for next generation process technology intensifies. As a Korean publication it isn’t surprising to see the Herald suggest that Samsung is ahead of Intel by several key semiconductor manufacturing metrics. It even mentions Intel’s famous stumble over 10nm and difficulty in breaking this final double digit nanometer barrier. There is some truth about that statement though, as we shouldn’t forget the current (Alder Lake) ‘Intel 7’ process is a rebrand of Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin.
The source mentions previous Intel / Samsung collaboration as further ‘evidence’ of collaborative talks being held. While we can’t provide any definitive reason or confirm the Korea Herald’s assertions, Gelsinger was definitely there for business, and not to talk about new TVs or smartphones. Ideas about collaborative works involving Intel processors plus Samsung memory chips and memory interfaces were floated in the source article, but may be nothing more than reporter brain storming.
Intel already has some agreements with TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer and rival to both Intel and Samsung in this regard. As recently as April, Gelsinger was in Taiwan on a quest to secure more of TSMC’s sub-7nm production capacity. No specifics were revealed at the time of the visit, with regard to the parts Intel wants more of.
Some light is cast upon Intel’s dealings past, recent and future by its latest leadership roadmap. Intel will be making use of ‘External N3’ for one of the tiles in its Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake chips. N3 is TSMC’s nomenclature for its 3nm process technology. At the same time, Intel is going to make a significant upgrade of its own, to Intel 4 (previously called Intel 7nm, enhanced with EUV lithography).
On the topic of Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake, we recently reported that these chips will be among the first to use Intel Foveros 3D technology. We should hear much more about these processors from Intel in August when there is a presentation about them scheduled at Hot Chips 34. Meteor Lake is expected to arrive in 2023 and is the codename for the 14th gen Intel Core processors.
Looking at Intel Lunar Lake and beyond we see that Intel’s roadmap doesn’t give any hint about the external foundry technology which will accompany its own 18A CPU tiles. This could be where Samsung steps in, ready for 2024. Alternatively it is possible it has won some orders prior to Lunar Lake.