Intel’s manufacturing woes could mean it asks for help making Xe 2nd-gen GPUs

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s Xe graphics cards will use its own 10nm process for the initial DG1 offering, but according to the rumor mill, the chip giant will then switch away from that to use TSMC’s 6nm and 3nm processes for future discrete GPUs.

This comes from sources who spoke to TechNews Taiwan (as spotted by, and arrives hot on the heels of other recent speculation (from AdoredTV) which also contended that 2nd-gen Xe graphics cards (DG2) will be manufactured by TSMC (on a 7nm process going by that older rumor).

TechNews Taiwan acknowledges that previous chatter from the grapevine, and observes that Intel’s DG2 (high-performance GPU) might use TSMC’s 7nm, and potentially switch to 6nm EUV eventually (and then 3nm as mentioned).

Although the Taiwanese report sounds like the sources believe these are potential plans rather than anything concrete (but as always in these cases, it’s possible the exact nuances of the article are lost in translation). At any rate, this is all conjecture, of course.

AdoredTV previously indicated that DG2 graphics cards aren’t expected to launch until 2022. TechNews Taiwan, however, believes this could be the timeframe for Intel switching to use TSMC’s 3nm process – and so seems to be betting that things are going to happen a little more quickly.

Difficult to believe?

On a broader level, if you’re thinking that the whole concept of Intel switching to use TSMC all sounds a little far-fetched, that’s a fair enough point – and these sources are hardly the strongest we’ve encountered, either. It would certainly be a surprising shift for Intel, but then again, there are solid arguments for why this could be the plan for the company going forward.

We’ve already seen Intel having serious issues with chip production in recent times, and Intel’s CFO George Davis recently admitted the extent of its troubles around getting 10nm in order, suffering at the hands of poor yields.

Intel is likely to be facing some serious dilemmas over what to prioritize with the next step down, its own 7nm production, and DG2 graphics cards – or at least some models – might be prime candidates for farming out elsewhere, to take the pressure off Intel’s already strained manufacturing capacity.

After all, the company has a lot of processors to make, even without adding cranking up GPU production into the mix – so something might have to give, somewhere.

At the moment, these are all just so many rumors floating around on the breeze, and as ever, we’ll just have to see how things pan out. Or indeed whether more evidence or further speculation crops up from potentially more solid sources.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).