Intel: We're going to spend billions on these new chip-making plants

Intel says it might announce new chip fabrication facilities in Europe by the end of this year.

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Intel chief Pat Gelsinger has announced a plan to spend up to €80 billion over the next decade to create a "mega" chip fab in Europe. 

Gelsinger revealed the planned investment at his keynote at Germany's annual motor show, IAA Mobility in Munich. Auto industries in Europe and the US were sharply affected by the global chip shortage during the pandemic.   

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"The world is well on its way to address the global chip shortage but it has shown the criticality of semiconductors and the impact of the global supply chain and the fragility of the supply chain," Gelsinger told Germany's auto industry.  

"How can Intel help? Well, we can build more chips."

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Gelsinger said Intel hoped to announce its next "mega fab" or chip fabrication facility in Europe by the end of the year. He also said Intel will make its semiconductor plant in Ireland available to automakers. 

Intel earlier this year announced it would invest €7bn to double the capacity of its Ireland facility and plans to bring its 7nm chip production to the plant. 

He's also looking to support the European Commission's plan, announced in March, to boost Europe's share of global semiconductor supplies to 20% of the world. Dubbed Digital Compass, the EU is seeking to become "digitally sovereign" by 2030.

"In 1990 Europe represented 44% of the worldwide semiconductor industry. Today, 9%," said Gelsinger. "So Europe has gone from manufacturing … almost half the world's supply to just 9% today and continuing to decline.

"It's something that is urgently critical for every aspect of a digital future, all of it running on semiconductors — you're on the verge of losing control of one of the most important technologies for the economy, the national security of Europe as well.

"COVID has shown that a globally balanced supply chain is absolutely critical," he added.

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Intel touted plans for a "mega fab" in Europe in July. Possible locations included Germany, Netherlands, France and Belgium, Intel execs told the Financial Times. Intel is also seeking EU funding support for its side in the initiative. 

"We build two new leading-edge fabs and those two would start a new site that would grow over the next decade to eight fabs," said Gelsinger.  

"Each fab is approximately €10 billion, so a total project of over €80 billion over the next decade or so. That would be a catalyst for the semiconductor industry, for the supply chain, for the chemicals — many equipment vendors — but a catalyst for the entire technology industry," he explained.