Frank has led the development of Intel's data center and personal computer chips. The products he is responsible for bring about $30 billion in revenue to the company every year. This shows that he is likely to carry out similar activities in Israel on behalf of Google this time.
But recently, apple, Amazon and Microsoft have also started developing chips in Israel, and now Google has joined them. As far as we know, Facebook also plans to set up a chip R & D team in Israel.
Technology giants are wrestling with chips, and Israel is becoming their main battleground. In fact, almost all chip companies do business in Israel, and for some companies, their offices in Israel are their most important stronghold in addition to their home countries.
More development, less production
In Israel, several senior chip development companies, such as Intel, have developed central processing units (CPUs) for personal computers, data centers and networks in Israel.
There is also a fab in Israel called tower Semiconductor Ltd, which is a foundry that has long focused on analog chip manufacturing and is headquartered in Migdal Haemek.
Applied materials, another company, has deployed important R & D and production tasks in Israel. Synopsys and cadence design systems, two of the world's largest EDA software companies, also have development centers here.
In addition, Apple Corp also develops LiDAR sensors for iPhone and autopilot in Israel. Amazon, the cloud giant, is doing most of its chip development in Israel, hoping to provide support for its cloud based machine learning.
This week, it was reported that TheInformation.com Amazon will start developing a new network chip for its server field here, the report said. Microsoft, another cloud provider, has a small business in Israel, but it also develops network chips for data centers here. In addition, as far as we know, Microsoft is expected to launch a data center oriented chip soon.
Cisco, the Internet giant, is developing its silicon silicon chips in Israel to meet the growing demand of data consumption in data centers. The development of the chip is also based on the technology acquired by the Israeli start-up leaba semiconductor, which they acquired in 2016.
Cloud companies need dedicated chips
Like Amazon and Microsoft, Google is not only a major player in the Internet or software. These three global cloud giants have been committed to developing proprietary chips in recent years. These proprietary chips will enable them to provide different services from other cloud providers and bring Alibaba a better competitive advantage. Even Facebook has tried to work with Intel to develop chips.
In today's technology world, the general view is that hardware / software integration is a cheap way to achieve higher performance. The main players conclude that it's important if we keep control of key hardware development and keep IP close behind.
At the same time, in-house chip development can also bring better service to customers and save more energy costs. According to applied materials, by 2025, data centers will use 15% of the world's electricity. In 2020, that's only 2%. Therefore, in essence, chip energy efficiency and performance are equally important.
The biggest limitation: talent
Intel has about 14000 employees in Israel, and they are regarded as the country's main high-tech incubator. Intel has been operating in Israel since the 1970s. In recent years, many of its major developments have originated in Israel, including the concept of central processing unit (CPU).
Intel has built a large technology incubator with a lot of knowledge in Israel, and everyone wants to get some of the expertise. NVIDIA, the GPU giant, is also recruiting 600 programmers in Israel. Intel will be their target.
Eytan Oppenheim, chief executive of Nova, believes Intel will not be the only one in the wave of Israeli chips. As one of the world's leading providers of metering equipment for advanced process control in semiconductor manufacturing, Nova has an inherent insight into industry events.
Oppenheim said that the industry skills required by hardware engineers are so similar that almost all local chip companies, even biotechnology companies, can become headhunters for technology giants.
Obviously, this is just the beginning of a consistent model.
At that time, it acquired willigo technology in Israel for us $2.7 billion and turned it into a base in Israel. According to reports, the center currently has about 600 employees.
In 2015, Amazon again acquired Annapurna labs, another company of willenz, for $370 million. Nafea bishara, co-founder of Annapurna (now vice president of Amazon AWS), told the company that the number of chip employees in Israel is now more than 10 times that at the time of the acquisition.
These prices have nothing to do with the quality of the chip. A company may be acquired without selling any chips, even if the development is incomplete. Instead of creating something from scratch and wasting precious time, it's better to buy an Israeli start-up company as the foundation of the local development center and then continue to develop it.
The same thing happened to the autonomous giant Mobileye. It is understood that in addition to self driving cars, Mobileye is also a chip developer. Mobileye is currently building a new campus in Jerusalem, which will accommodate hundreds of new employees, and the total number of employees there is as high as 2700.
After the acquisition of Mobileye, Intel later bought Habana, an Israeli start-up. In about six months, the number of employees in the office has increased from 170 to 650 (including internal staff transfer within Intel).
NVIDIA, the world's largest chip company by market value, completed the acquisition of mellanox, an Israeli company, a year ago for about $7.36 billion. Although the restrictions imposed by covid-19 have only recently been relaxed in Israel, NVIDIA announced last week that it plans to recruit 600 engineers locally.
It is worth mentioning that Intel and Microsoft also proposed the acquisition conditions for mellanox at that time, but they failed in the end.
Big money also breeds egoism. When Amazon launched its AI chip in December last year, at the same time, it announced with Intel that it had launched Gaudi AI training chip for its cloud products, which almost robbed the whole exhibition from Intel.
Gaudi was developed in Israel by Habana labs and sold to Intel with the company for $2 billion. It is worth mentioning that Annapurna and Habana were founded by Avigdor willenz.
Back at Microsoft, it is reported that another company founded by willenz, xsight labs, is in the advanced stage of developing data center chips.
Industry sources said that after failing to acquire mellanox, Microsoft may soon acquire an Israeli chip company and add it to its existing business to develop processors for its surface computer product line.
Electronic engineer or code farmer?
Since the beginning of its development, Israel has been focusing on high-tech chips, such as CPU, sensor network and other high-tech chips.
But he added that over the past decade, electronic engineers have been moving towards computer science, which makes it possible that new employers may now need to worry about talent. Employers and the government should do their best to train people for these occupations, SNIR said.
Who will fund the multi billion dollar chip factory?
In recent years, high-tech pendulum has gradually turned to hardware. This change is accompanied by an increase in data generation, streaming service usage, and the number of AI based services. The above applications have put forward higher and higher requirements for storage, processing and network functions.
However, as time goes by, the software capabilities used to improve performance have declined. At the same time, the demand for hardware is growing, it will make great progress and meet the continuous demand. However, there are some obstacles in hardware improvement.
First of all, we have always been concerned about the high cost and long time involved in the establishment of a chip manufacturing plant. Most of these plants around the world have benefited from government support, including tax breaks for Intel wafer plants in Israel and Ireland.
Taiwan began to invest in this field as early as the 1980s, and established Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC), which is now regarded as the world's leading chip manufacturer. With the support of the government, Taiwanese have also set up UMC, a company competing with TSMC.
However, even today, government support for this industry is necessary. TSMC is about to build a $12 billion plant in Arizona and has been approved by the government for subsidies.
An example of the huge investment required for a wafer factory: in 2020, TSMC's budget for upgrading its production infrastructure alone is about $16 billion. In addition, the US government's subsidy to TSMC is estimated to be several hundred million US dollars.
Compared with the planned investment of the United States in the field of semiconductors, all this is weak. Of the infrastructure upgrades recently approved by the Biden administration, 37 billion dollars were allocated to the chip industry.
Instead of using existing technology to expand manufacturing activities, Intel has planned to invest about NIS 40 billion in its Israeli fab to develop advanced manufacturing capabilities in the future.
The field of microprocessors has gone through a lot of turbulence. Like oil in the 1970s, chips have recently become the focus of geopolitical conflict between China and the United States.
In this trade war, the discussion about IP is not only about the copyright of movies and TV programs, but also about technology patents (mainly Internet infrastructure) and chips.
Chinese investment and American pressure
The US government has imposed restrictions on the sale of chips to China, and these restrictions also apply to US allies, mainly Taiwan.
China has a clear goal in this matter. In its multi-year plan for 2015-2020, it has laid the foundation for the chip development capability of network devices and mobile devices, and in its current five-year plan for 2021-2025, it plans to expand on this basis.
As an ally of the United States, Israel is considered a relatively safe place, which is a necessary condition for success. Israel also has one of the most developed technological ecosystems outside the United States. That's why there's a huge influx of investment.
Today, big tech giants can invest in almost anything they want, anytime, anywhere. This includes recruiting expensive talent from Israel, if talent already exists in the microprocessor industry, or even more.