Taiwanese media reports that Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger stopped briefly on the island on Thursday for face-to-face discussions with TSMC's top executives. The topic of discussion didn't take very long to leak out if a report published by DigiTimes today is correct. In summary, sources say that Gelsinger was on a quest to secure additional sub-7nm production capacity and mature-node output in support of Intel's roadmaps and overall business aims.
The DigiTimes sources indicated that Gelsinger flew in to double-check commitment to orders placed with the world's largest contract chipmaker. In its headline the report mentions Intel sought greater capacity commitments from TSMC, but it didn't mention anything about extra orders for CPUs, GPUs, or other products.
One of the matters on Gelsinger's mind was said to be mature node orders for supporting computer components. There is talk that Intel's server shipments are slower than they could be due to tight supplies of components like LAN chips (produced on mature nodes), so it seems reasonable that the Intel CEO added these kinds of chips to his TSMC shopping list.
After his brief quarantine-swerving stay in Taiwan, Gelsinger flew off to Japan to talk to companies, including Tokyo Electron, and will return to the US after a stop in India.
Reflections on the December Visit to TSMC
Gelsinger's decision to visit TSMC in Taiwan on Thursday was a surprise to industry watchers, as entering Taiwan isn't a trivial task with its Zero-Covid policy still in place. Additionally, Gelsinger visited TSMC only a few months ago, in mid-December 2021. However, the DigiTimes report, quoted above, sheds a little light on Gelsinger's aims.
During the December visit, the Intel CEO wasted a significant amount of time on necessary matters of diplomacy. For example, he had to backpedal on comments about Taiwan being a geopolitically unstable risk just days before his visit. Thus Gelsinger decided flattery was the best policy on TSMC's home turf. Before flying off, he ironed out an agreement to secure various TSMC output lines to support Intel's ambitious product roadmaps.