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Intel awarded $20 billion by US government, advanced CPUs incoming

The Biden-Harris administration has agreed to provide grants and loans to Intel to incentivize more investment from the company in the U.S.

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, stands behind four chip wafers, while holding a CPU and moneybag in either hand

The past several years haven’t been kind to Intel, with the company’s revenue falling year-on-year despite the generally warm reception of its last three Core processor generations. However, its fortunes may be set to change dramatically thanks to a deal struck with the United States government.

It’s no secret that Intel is behind the curve when it comes to making the best gaming CPUs, with its clock speed advantages not proving enough to compete against AMD’s 3D V-Cache chips. However, this is just one battle of many that’s contributed to Intel’s financial state, with CEO Pat Gelsinger fighting on the company’s behalf on other fronts such as cloud computing and AI. A potential comeback could be on the cards, though, thanks to the Biden-Harris administration.

Announced today by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), Intel has entered a non-binding agreement with the government which will provide $8 billion in grants and a further $11.5 billion in loans, for a total of $19.5 billion in federal funding. This is the fourth award made under the CHIPS and Science Act, with previous beneficiaries including TSMC, GlobalFoundries.

In a press release, the DOC says “the proposed CHIPS funding would strengthen all major technical processes for leading-edge chips to occur in the United States,” highlighting Intel’s plans to construct and modernize semiconductor fabrication plants (fabs) across the country. While most of these are years in the making, fabs in Chandler, Arizona is already set to make processors using the Intel 18A process, the company’s “most advanced chip design”.

While most of this naturally concerns artificial intelligence, with Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger commenting that this funding will “ensure Intel and the U.S. stay at the forefront of the AI era,” it does have potential knock-on effects for future gaming processors too. After all, the latest Core Ultra CPUs are the first from the company to feature neural processing units (NPUs) for client-side AI workloads.

Moving away from artificial intelligence, though, increased capacity for the Intel 18A process and beyond will undoubtedly play a part in future generations of Core Ultra processors, on both desktop and mobile. That’s not forgetting cost savings that could be passed on to consumers as more CPUs are manufactured in the United States, reducing the cost and taxes associated with importing stock into the country.

This is all speculation, of course, and it will be a while yet before we see the fruits of this funding come to bear. Presently, the best Intel has to offer is the Core i9 14900KS, a hot mess of a processor. The near-future isn’t so bright, either, with the Arrow Lake release date now rumored to fall several months after AMD launches its competing Zen 5 CPUs.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Intel right now, though, with our Core i5 14600K review serving as a showcase of what the company can do when it’s not trying to punch above its weight. Here’s hoping to see this same scrappy mentality with future Arc Battlemage graphics cards, should they ever materialize.