(Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger said he’s making progress in his push to return the biggest chip manufacturer in the US to global leadership.
“I would give us a passing grade, two and a half years into the journey,” Gelsinger said in an interview ahead of an opening ceremony for a new factory in Leixlip, Ireland. “My product machine is, you know, I won’t say it’s world class, but it’s no longer broken.”
Gelsinger is seeking to restore Intel to the front rank of the chip industry after letting its dominance slip. While the chip pioneer foundered, its competitor Nvidia Corp. has parlayed demand for artificial intelligence computing into a trillion-dollar valuation.
After several years of shunning Intel stock, investors have begun to buy into the turn around. Intel’s shares have gained 33% this year, just shy of a 35% rally by the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index.
New factories are key to Gelsinger’s effort. He has committed to building facilities across Europe and the US to meet an anticipated surge in chip demand and diversify away from production in East Asia, where geopolitical tensions with China have led to fears of over-dependence on the region.
The 62-year-old executive took the reins at Intel in 2021 following nearly a decade as the head of VMWare Inc. He has pledged to undo the mistakes of his predecessors who’d allowed Intel to fall behind rivals such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co.
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Intel’s new Fab 34 plant will use Intel 4 production technology based on cutting edge extreme ultraviolet, or EUV, machinery from ASML Holdings NV.
ASML is the only company to produce such machines, which are used to pattern details on the most advanced microchips. The Irish plant is Intel’s first to use this method.
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Gelsinger’s push is committing billions of dollars to facilities that will take years to come online, and comes at a difficult time for the company. Intel’s current product line up has struggled to retain its position against competitors and the main market for Intel’s processors, PCs, has slumped back to pre-pandemic levels. Many owners of larger data centers, which are Intel’s largest customers, have switched to AI-related gear built on Nvidia chips.
In recent quarters, Gelsinger has told investors that Intel’s earnings may have bottomed out and he’s optimistic about hitting the company’s current set of financial goals.
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