A fabrication facility is costly to build. Foundry business and fabless will continue exist and work together to bring various components to the market.
Nonetheless, if design and production can work closely together like Intel, the company would have better competitive edge. The reason that Intel still push x86 based CPU into mobile market is they believe they can produce a low power consumption CPU using product technology. Let's imagine if Intel started producing its own ARM.
This is all hokum, and lot of smoke with no real fire. True Fabless won't work for all but the fact is it works for most and anyone thinking he can go from fabless to churning off sub 32nm wafers is probably out of his mind. Fab cost work to everyones advantage when its billions of dollars are amortized across billions of wafers.
Intel also would have gone fabless if they were not running a monopoly in PC business.
The foundry model is not affected by the technology status so much as the current business situation. It may help the foundries to consider IDM-type projects, just as IDMs are considering foundry-type projects.
Some companies can innovate internally, like Intel. Others cannot, even though they are big. A number of years ago, all jump on the band wagon to trash the ecosystem. Now that destruction is nearly complete. Those who cannot innovate internally may enjoy a hard earned collapse.
IDM versus foundry:
When asked if the multipatterning issues at 14-nm applied to both integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) and foundries Meurice said: "At 14-nm foundries have a challenge that the IDMs would not have. The challenge is that thay have to deliver design rules which are less restrictive and they have to deliver a shrink that is very aggressive." As such the decision to go to EUV for 14-nm concerns the foundry environment more than the microprocessor environment, Meurice said.
Could we be reaching the end of Moores law and technology shrinks in silicon manufacturing. Tri-gate might have mitigated the issues at the 32-22nm migration step but the fact that Intel had to resort to such a radical step is worriesome. What after that? 14nm? 10nm? Will tri-gate survive the shrinks?
If this is the end of the shrink race then this spells bigger trouble for Intel than the fabless makers. In order to keep the lead in process technology they will have to make radical changes to their manufacturing (read more complex lower yields, higher costs) and if they stumble or stop, guess what? All the minions of semi players will have a level playing field. Then it will be about who has the best design.
IMO, the reality is that one size/type of solution does not work right for all players. Fabless is great for some design houses, markets, and products, but not a good fit for others. Whenever we try to posit that one approach is "right" or "best", we are ignoring the engineering reality: it is all about managing and balancing tradeoffs and priorities, given your available resources and objectives.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.