While Gelsinger has shaken things up throughout his brief time as CEO of Intel, placing a heavy focus on the company’s manufacturing operations and opening up its capacity to other chipmakers, Chang thinks Gelsinger won’t turn Chipzilla into a global manufacturing leader because he’s too old.
To be fair, Chang was not being ageist, particularly after he did most of his best work after 65. He said that Intel, like many US companies, has a rule that its executives must retire at a certain age—65.
Just over four years is no short span of time, but Intel's Gelsinger’s plans for dominance are long-term. The two Arizona chip plants that it broke ground on in September are expected to become fully operational in 2024. The plants are part of Intel's renewed IDM 2.0 strategy that involves its newly formed Intel Foundry Services (IFS) division manufacturing chips for others. Intel is talking to over 100 companies for foundry work, and two of the first high-profile customers will be Amazon and Qualcomm.
The factories are set to produce chips using Intel's 20A process, the first to use its "RibbonFET" version of Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistors and PowerVia interconnects.
Gelsinger himself has said that Intel’s IDM 2.0 initiative will help it compete against TSMC, Samsung, GlobalFoundries, UMC, and others by 2025, which would still be within his tenure as boss. And depending on his level of success, the Intel board could decide to retain its current CEO's services after he turns 65.
But to put the comments into context, Gelsinger has been publicly warning against the dangers of relying on Taiwanese chipmakers given China’s threatening activities in the region and said that Taiwan was not a stable place.
Gelsinger also said the US government should subsidise domestic companies exclusively when spending the $52 billion it has set aside for semiconductor funding.
The comment didn’t go down well with current TSMC chairman Mark Liu. "It will be very negative for the United States to subsidise only American companies", Liu said. "Unlike Intel, TSMC is very positive about non-US chipmakers expanding capacity in America. It is a great thing."