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Intel is both chip designer and chipmaker, but its Foundry business recorded a $7 billion loss in 2023. It’s significantly more than the 5.2 billion loss that the unit suffered in 2022, but CEO Pat Gelsinger says improvement in on the horizon.

Intel announced the figures during an earnings call with investors this week.

Since a restructuring in the middle of last year, Intel Foundry has become a separate business unit of the company. This unit effectively operates as a stand-alone company, with Intel itself being its most important chip production partner. The Foundry plans extend further, however, and in February Microsoft was already revealed to have closed a $15 billion chip deal.

In addition, Intel Foundry’s chip production will receive a substantial financial injection from the U.S. government. Through the CHIPS Act, the company is set to receive $8.5 billion and can loan up to $11 billion. Intel will put that money into several chip plants in Arizona and Ohio, while facilities in Germany, France and Poland are also planned.

Low point in 2024

Regardless, the operating costs and other expenses are huge, in part because Intel Foundry will use brand-new ASML High-NA EUV scanners for advanced chip production. A single such machine already costs $350 million. By taking the plunge, Intel is hoping to be at the forefront of the latest chip processes in the coming years, something that might persuade lucrative customers like Nvidia and Apple to close a deal.

Intel is hoping to avoid the same fate as rival AMD through these major investments. Intel’s long-time rival was forced to spin off its chip production efforts as the independent GlobalFoundries in 2008. After years of exclusive deals with that chipmaker, AMD has moved to chip giant TSMC because of GlobalFoundries’ lack of competitiveness. By betting on the latest chip processes, Intel Foundry should be more successful.

Peak losses for Foundry are imminent, according to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger. After that, a break-even point should arrive around 2030. Meanwhile, the company’s own chip sales are not delivering the desired results: operating revenues were $11.3 billion in 2023, down compared to 2022 ($13.9 billion).

To drive its own chip initiatives, Intel, like others in the industry, is hoping for a resurgence in the PC market. The advent of the “AI PC” should spur customers to upgrade, but we are far from certain about that in the shorter term.

Also read: Will AI save the PC market from a third consecutive year of disaster?