Intel pulls back from crossing Ivy Bridge

Intel pulls back from crossing Ivy Bridge

The Interwibble is abuzz with reports that mighty Intel is to delay moving its Irish chip factory, Fab 24, to 22nm production.

The firm hasn’t make any announcement to that effect itself but notes from a couple of Wall Street market watchers kicked off the kerfuffle. 

Intel has its Ivy Bridge platform – a 22 nm die shrink of its current Sandy Bridge offering – pencilled in for March-April 2012, although samples were expected before the end of 2011.

But in a note yesterday, Barclays Capital‘s C.J. Muse said: “Our industry checks suggest Intel has decided to remove Fab 24 (Ireland) from its 1270 (22nm) roadmap. What is unclear to us is whether Intel will re-allocate capacity to Israel or other facilities or whether this is a cut to capex. We understand the decision for re-allocation or to mothball will be made by the second week of September — so stay tuned.”

Rival note-writer, Citigroup’s Timothy Arcuri later confirmed the report with more unsourced comments. “Our checks indicate that INTC has changed its plan on its Fab 24 in Ireland, putting on hold the upgrade of the fab from 90/65nm to 22nm. It plans to revisit the future of Fab 24 at 14nm or 10nm node,” he wrote.

He added that the decision “doesn’t impact current orders/shipments but rather, the impact relates more to what INTC will spend in 2012.”

Earlier this year, Intel announced a $500 million upgrade to Fab 24 to shift to 22nm production  But an Intel spokesman has told Forbes: “As of today we are not planning to build 22nm at Fab 24.”

What is clear, is that there is a seizmic shift going on in the computing industry. While it’s not dead, the desktop is becoming a secondary device for connecting to the web. In that regard smartphones and tablets are taking over, leaving the world’s leading chip maker in a flap. No-one really wants to put an Atom chip in a tablet, let alone a phone, so it’s all hands to the masts at Intel, as it scratches it corporate beard and wonders what on earth to do.

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