How fast can Intel build up its foundry business ecosystem? Perhaps in a few years, as it has successfully acquired TSMC's Open Innovation Platform (OIP) former helmsman to help it build the important alliance in June.
Suk Lee, former senior director of TSMC design infrastructure marketing division in charge of TSMC's Open Innovation Platform, is now Intel's Ecosystem Development VP. According to a Chinese media report, Lee is succeeded by Dan Kochpatcharin, both have worked in TSMC for more than a decade.
DIGITIMES semiconductor analyst Eric Chen indicated that the OIP is an essential part of TSMC's foundry business, by which customers' tape-outs are implemented in an efficient fashion to reduce design barriers and improve first-time silicon success.
Sources familiar with foundry processes estimated it takes at least one year for each customer to adjust the manufacturing process in the new partnership, and Intel will have to provide its own IP, as well as the IC design and verification software to the customers.
"But there remain uncertainties, because customers may not want to take the risk of shifting orders to Intel – that will cost them extra time and money," commented an industry expert.
The OIP initiative is a comprehensive design technology infrastructure that encompasses all critical IC implementation areas to reduce design barriers and improve first-time silicon success, according to TSMC. The model brings together the creative thinking of customers and partners under the common goal of shortening each of the following: design time, time-to-volume, time-to-market, and, ultimately, time-to-revenue.
In essence, the OIP is an ecosystem that builds up the "moat" that strengthened the competitiveness of TSMC against rivals such as Samsung and Intel. It consists of the IP alliance, EDA alliance, design center alliance, cloud alliance, and value chain aggregators.
Although losing a highly competent and experienced executive may not be a threat to TSMC in the short term, it will be a mid-to-long-term competitiveness issue if Suk Lee does build up a similar ecosystem for Intel.
In a recent press release, Intel Foundry Service (IFS) announced the launch of the IFS Cloud Alliance to enable design in the cloud. This is exactly what TSMC has been doing with its cloud alliance. Intel names the ecosystem "IFS Accelerator – Design Ecosystem Alliance".
Initial members of the program include leading cloud providers Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, as well as the key players in electronic design automation (EDA), according to Intel press release.