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TSMC Founder: Pat Gelsinger Too Old to Make Intel Great Again

TSMC
(Image credit: TSMC)

Update, 12/13/2021: Intel reached out to clarify that the company updated its policy in March, 2021, to remove the mandatory retirement age for its corporate officers. Thus, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is not required to retire at age 65, as asserted by Morris Chang. 

Original Story: 

After less than a year into his tenure as Intel's chief executive, Pat Gelsinger has set up the company's process technology roadmap that spans through 2025 and introduced the company's IDM 2.0 foundry strategy. But the ambitious CEO may not have enough time to bring Intel back to its glory days, said Morris Chang, the founder and a former CEO of TSMC, reports UDN.

Pat Gelsinger is 60, and there is a rule that Intel's executives must retire at the age of 65 [EDIT: As per Intel policy, this is not true — the age limit was removed earlier this year]. As a result, Gelsinger may not have enough time to put Intel back in a manufacturing technology leadership position, Chang noted while delivering his lecture 'Cherish Taiwan's Advantages in Semiconductor Wafer Manufacturing.'

After founding TSMC in 1987, Chang served as CEO of the world's largest chipmaker until 2005. However, he returned to the position in mid-2009 amid the global economic crisis. He finally retired from the company in 2018. 

While many U.S.-based companies have mandatory retirement rules for executives, they tend to change them if the need arises. To that end, Gelsinger may have five years to put Intel on the right track and find proper successors, or he may have more time if Intel's board decides that his experience and agility outweigh his age. 

TSMC is not particularly happy with Gelsinger. Last week, he said that the reliance on Taiwan as the global hub for semiconductor manufacturing was a significant risk since China had never given up plans to capture the country.

"Taiwan is not a stable place," said Gelsinger at Fortune Brainstorm Tech, reports Nikkei. "Beijing sent 27 warplanes to Taiwan's air defense identification zone this week. Does that make you feel more comfortable or less?"

He also re-emphasized his view that foreign semiconductor companies should not receive subsidies from the U.S. government to build new fabs under the $52-billion CHIPS act. Gelsinger called on the U.S. government to provide incentives only for American chipmakers. He argued that semiconductor companies from China, Taiwan and South Korea received major aid from their respective governments, which made it harder for American companies like Intel to compete. 

"How do you compete with a 30 to 40% subsidy," Gelsinger asked. "Because that means we are not competing with TSMC or Samsung, we are competing with Taiwan and Korea. The subsidies in China are even more significant."