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Intel hopes to start making chips for car companies within six to nine months

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Intel could start producing in-demand semiconductors for car companies within six to nine months, CEO Pat Gelsinger said in an interview with Reuters, commenting that the chipmaking is already being discussed with companies that design chips for cars.

“We’re hoping that some of these things can be alleviated, not requiring a three- or four-year factory build, but maybe six months of new products being certified on some of our existing processes,” Gelsinger told Reuters. “We’ve begun those engagements already with some of the key components suppliers.”

Even if Intel is unable to meet that six to nine month goal, the news highlights the importance that Intel is placing on its new business as a producer of chips for other companies.

Gelsinger unveiled the new business — called Intel Foundry Services — as a “standalone foundry business unit” last month at his “Engineering the Future” announcement, with promises that the company would put its fabs to work producing x86, Arm, and RISC-V core chips for external clients. As part of that announcement, Intel also planned to invest $20 billion into expanding its fabs in Arizona to help it better meet demand from external partners.

The automotive industry has been one of the areas that’s been hit hardest by the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, with car companies like Ford and GM forced to shut down production or make changes to their trucks due to a lack of parts. If Intel is able to start producing automotive chips within the year, it could provide a much-needed new avenue of supply to alleviate those shortages.

The global shortage has reached the point that the Biden administration is looking to intervene: the president has called for a review of the semiconductor supply chain in an executive order and hosted the executives of companies including Intel, Google, Ford, GM, TSMC, and Dell at the White House for today’s “CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience.”

“We’ve been falling behind on research and development and manufacturing, and, to put it bluntly, we have to step up our game,” Biden said at the meeting.

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