7. Intel's 90-nm bonanza, but makes swift capital spending cuts
As usual, Intel Corp. made plenty of news in 2002. On one hand, Intel announced a series of job cuts, plant closures, and legal setbacks. But on the other hand, the company once again dominated the microprocessor market, and gained more ground on its rival in the arena--Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Another one of Intel's success stories is its manufacturing prowess. The company claims to be the only company to bring up its 130-nm process with little or no problem. And it is moving full speed ahead with its giant and costly 300-mm fabs.
In August, Intel also claimed it will be the first chip maker to utilize strained silicon at the 90-nm node, thereby beating IBM Corp. and others to the punch, and re-emphasizing Intel's lead in silicon process technology. It also disclosed some more details about its 90-nm process technology, including that it will be the company's initial deployment of strained silicon and low-k dielectrics in chip production. IBM and other chip makers had indicated that strained silicon would not be used in IC production until the 65-nm node in 2005.
"We believe we have the world's most advanced 90-nm process," declared Mark Bohr, an Intel Senior Fellow and director of process architecture and integration for the company. "For example, as far as I know, we are the only company to bring strained silicon at 90-nm," he told SBN in an interview last August.
Intel also reiterated plans to develop its 90-nm process exclusively in its 300-mm fabs. And as expected, Intel's first 90-nm product will be a high-speed Pentium 4-based processor comprising 330 million transistors and code-named Prescott. Prescott is due out in the second half of 2003, according to Intel (see Aug. 13, 2002 story ).
On the down side, Intel also cut its 2002 capital spending--again. Originally, Intel was supposed to spend $5.5 billion in 2002, but the company slashed its capital expenditures $5-to-$5.2 billion earlier this year (see July 16, 2002 story ).
But in October, the Santa Clara-based company lowered the figure to about $4.7 billion. The reductions are being driven by cost savings within construction projects. In addition, the company is slightly reducing its fourth-quarter equipment spending by re-using certain equipment from older process technology (see Oct. 15, 2002 story ).
(Return to 2002 Top 10 list or go to No. 8).