According to a report from The Register that was confirmed by Intel, Randhir Thakur, the head of Intel’s contract chip fabrication unit, has quit. He will continue to manage Intel Foundry Services through the first quarter of 2023 to guarantee a smooth transfer to a new leader.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger sent an email to workers congratulating Randhir Thakur for helping to build IFS and for being crucial in the company’s IDM 2.0 business strategy. Indeed, Randhir Thakur has much to be proud of at IFS. During his tenure, Intel revealed its intention to acquire Tower Semiconductor (which would immediately make Intel one of the biggest contract makers of chips). He was also key in striking arrangements with major chip developers such as MediaTek, which is also one of TSMC’s main clients. This was a significant gain for IFS, which also received a contract from the US Department of Defense for the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C) program.
“Randhir has been a key member of the Executive Leadership Team for the past two and a half years and has served in several senior leadership roles since he joined us in 2017,” Intel’s CEO wrote in the email quoted by The Register. “His contributions to our [Integrated Device Manufacturing] 2.0 transformation are many but most notable is his leadership in standing up our IFS business.”
But based on what we know about Intel’s process technology roadmap through 2025, IFS is hardly a perfect contract chipmaker.
Although Intel is an IDM (Integrated Design Manufacturer), the company’s intentions as of now mostly align its production nodes to its fabrication methods, which may not be enough to convince businesses like Apple, AMD, and Nvidia to use IFS services for their high-volume products.
The most sensible course of action for Intel may be to transfer management of the foundry branch to Tower Semiconductor. The deal is expected to be finalized in February 2023, which is close to Randhir Thakur’s departure date. The management experience will be crucial for the future of IFS because Tower Semiconductor has been developing its roadmap in collaboration with its clients for years.
In the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year 2022, the Intel Foundry Services business unit made $171 million, which might not sound like much given that it represented about 1.1% of the total sales of the organization. The business has not yet made its cutting-edge technologies available to significant clients.
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