Randhir Thakur, the head of Intel’s contract chip production unit, has resigned, according to a report from The Register that was confirmed by Intel. He will continue to lead Intel Foundry Services through Q1 2023 to ensure a smooth transition to a new leader.
Pat Gelsinger, chief executive of Intel, sent an email to the company’s employees thanking Randhir Thakur for helping establish IFS and being instrumental to the company’s IDM 2.0 business model.
“Randhir has been a key member of the Executive Leadership Team for the past two and a half years and has served in several senior leadership roles since he joined us in 2017,” Intel’s CEO wrote in the email quoted by The Register. “His contributions to our [Integrated Device Manufacturing] 2.0 transformation are many, but most notable is his leadership in standing up our IFS business.”
Indeed, Randhir Thakur has done quite a lot to be proud of at IFS. During his tenure, Intel announced the pending acquisition of Tower Semiconductor (which would immediately make Intel one of the biggest contract makers of chips). He was also instrumental in inking deals with giant chip developers like MediaTek, which also happens to be one of TSMC’s largest customers. This contract was a major win for IFS, and the outfit also won a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C) program.
But IFS is far from an ideal contract chipmaker, at least based on what we know about Intel’s process technology roadmap through 2025. The company’s plans announced so far largely align its production nodes to its own fabrication processes, which is good for Intel as an IDM (Integrated Design Manufacturer) player, but might not be enough to persuade companies like Apple, AMD, and Nvidia to use IFS services for their high-volume products.
Intel’s most logical next move is perhaps to hand the foundry division over to the management of Tower Semiconductor. The transaction is set to close in February 2023, which is around the time Randhir Thakur is set to leave. Tower Semiconductor has developed its roadmap together with its customers for years, so the management experience will be critical for the future of IFS.
The Intel Foundry Services business unit earned $171 million in the company’s fiscal third quarter of 2022 (opens in new tab), which may not sound much given that it is about 1.1% of the company’s revenue. The company has yet to offer its leading-edge technologies to big customers.