Intel 32nm manufacturing stays out of Asia

update Dalian fab in China slated to begin production this year but will focus on manufacturing chipsets based on 65-nanometer process.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

update SINGAPORE--Intel has no plans to manufacture its 32-nanometer processors in Asia, the chip giant has confirmed.

Intel's new fab in Dalian, China, though operational later this year, will focus on producing chipsets based on the 65nm process--the technology given the nod for by the U.S. government.

Dubbed Fab 68, the Dalian facility is the chipmaker's only wafer fab in Asia; it has assembly and test facilities in Kulim, Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. According to an Intel spokesperson, the company has not announced any plans for additional fabs in the region.

Currently, Intel's chips based on the 32nm process are produced in the United States. Last February, the company announced a US$7 billion investment in its U.S. plants to support the transition to 32nm manufacturing. At that time, Intel's vice president Stephen Smith did not indicate if the processors would be manufactured in Asia.

PC makers get to Core
Chipsets produced out of Fab 68 will be used in all CPU platforms for desktops and notebooks, including the new Core family of processors.

The 2010 Core family comprise the entry-level i3, mid-range i5, higher-end i7 and 5 Series chipsets, are based on the Nehalem architecture that Intel moved to last year. Intel has a "tick-tock" strategy, which sees the chip giant shrink processor size with a new manufacturing process in odd-numbered years and roll out new architecture in even-numbered years.

Other than a new manufacturing process, the new Core family also incorporates "Turbo Boost", which lets the CPU automatically adjust the speed of the cores based on user workload. The chips also include hyperthreading capabilities and feature better graphics performance with integrated HD graphics technology, making the systems suitable for mainstream and casual gameplay.

At its global launch of the new Core processors at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, the chipmaker announced 400 designs based on the Core family of processors from various PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard. Another 200 more are expected to follow.

The PCs are available in most markets in Asia, said Patrick Liew, the company's country manager for Singapore.

He said it was unlikely the Core silicon will go the way of the Atom processor, where the chipmaker announced a partnership with TSMC. The Core processors are currently manufactured in-house and will remain that way "for the foreseeable future", he said.



Correction: This article quoted an Intel executive to say the Dalian fab may be used to produce 32nm processors when it opens later this year, and that these chips are made in the United States as well as Europe. A company spokesperson has since clarified that its Chinese fab will only manufacture Intel chipsets based on the 65nm process, for use in desktop and portable PCs. The processors are also produced only in the United States.