NVIDIA May Utilize New Intel Fabs, But CEO Huang Didn't Say That Specifically

cnbc jensen huang interview
Folks who follow technology news—probably you, if you're reading this—will no doubt be aware that the United States' federal government has allocated some $52 billion to promote microprocessor manufacturing inside the country. This money is being split between a few companies, but two of the biggest are both building fabrication plants in the US state of Arizona.

That might be the source of some confusion around the web, as there have been a couple of reports now that NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang confirmed to the news media that his company will be taking advantage of Intel's new bleeding-edge Arizona plant for its own chip construction. Huang has said in the past that NVIDIA is open to working with Intel, and he's also stated that NVIDIA will use whatever resources it has available without bias.

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The entrance to Intel's private drive at its Chandler, AZ campus. Image: Google

However, what he didn't say is that NVIDIA would be using Intel's fabs, specifically. In fact, he nearly said the opposite. The statement in question was made during an interview with CNBC's Katie Tarasov. The interview, which is available in both video form and text transcription, is interesting for a few reasons, but the specific part that everyone's concerned about is the part where Ms. Tarasov queries Huang about whether he will move NVIDIA's fabrication to the new facilities in Arizona. Huang replies, "Oh absolutely, we'll use Arizona." The two were not referring to Intel's facilities, however, they were talking about TSMC.

That part of the interview, more generally, is talking about how NVIDIA is completely reliant on external fabrication services to make its processors, which is true—NVIDIA has always been a fabless company. CNBC over-emphasizes TSMC a bit; recall that all of NVIDIA's Ampere GPUs are manufactured by Samsung, instead. Still, no one can deny the importance of TSMC to the microprocessor market, and that's probably why international tensions between China, Taiwan, and the US have everyone so concerned.

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Ongoing construction at TSMC's Fab 21 outside Phoenix, AZ. Image: CNBC

In turn, those specific tensions are exactly why TSMC is also investing $12 billion to build a state-of-the-art fabrication plant in Arizona. The plants aren't even far apart; both are within the Phoenix metropolitan area, with TSMC's Fab 21 sitting just north of the city along Interstate 17, while Intel's facility is in Chandler, just south of Phoenix.

With that in mind, the error of thinking "Intel" when Jensen Huang says he will "absolutely use Arizona" for microprocessor lithography is completely understandable. NVIDIA may yet use Intel for manufacturing, but nothing of the sort has been announced so far.