Foxconn to produce Google server components at troubled Wisconsin plant

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Foxconn has landed a contract to produce key server components for Google at its beleaguered Wisconsin plant, according to a new report.

Credit: Engineering News-Record
Credit: Engineering News-Record


The facility should begin mass production of the components in the first quarter of 2021, timed with the release of Intel's Ice Lake server chips. Currently, Foxconn is setting up assembly lines to place semiconductors onto circuit boards at the plant.

According to Bloomberg, Foxconn decided to locate production for the new Google server contract at the Wisconsin facility instead in China or Taiwan.

Although sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg of the contract, Foxconn declined to confirm any customers. It only said that it's developing data center and computing "capabilities" in Wisconsin.

The troubled Foxconn facility was touted by President Donald Trump as a critical component of a plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Since it was unveiled in 2018, the Wisconsin operation has been beset by delays and direction changes.

Wisconsin officials rejected Foxconn's bid for tax subsidies because updated plans for the plant were much smaller than initially proposed. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer also missed its first-year hiring target by a wide margin, and has scaled back hiring plans since then.

A Wisconsin state report from October concluded that the facility "may be better suited for demonstration purposes rather than as a viable commercial glass fabrication facility."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    "The facility should begin mass production of the components in the first quarter of 2021, timed with the release of Intel's Ice Lake server chips."

    That chip was supposed to launch like 6 months ago: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intels-xeon-scalable-ice-lake-sp-volume-ramp-delayed-to-q1-2021

    Ice Lake is the 10nm process. Server chips - especially for Google - would undoubtedly mean 56 core Xeons. Intel always takes care of their enterprise - meaning server, industrial, IoT - customers first before releasing laptop and desktop chips. However, there may still be Intel Core i9 (10 cores) and Intel Core i7 (8 cores) as well as 10-26 core Intel Xeon chips suitable for the last run of Mac Pros as well as top end MacBook Pros and iMacs available by the end of 2021. Whether that leaves Apple enough time for a refresh in 2021 - or even if they will be interested in doing so - is debatable. 

    But their releasing 10nm "desktop" chips - as opposed to their (not really) "mobile" chips that max out at 4 cores - no earlier than 3Q 2021 means that even the "mobile" 7nm chips suitable for MacBook Air (formerly), Chromebook and Windows 10 2-in-1s won't be coming before 2022, even if Intel decides to pay TSMC to make their chips (a decision that won't be made until 1Q 2021). 

    However, the power/performance gains that Ice Lake will provide - along with new Nvidia, AMD and Intel Iris XE discrete graphics cards - will be enough to keep the Windows and ChromeOS crowd happy for now. Similar to how Android fans have been happy with Qualcomm Snapdragon 8xx performance (Samsung Exynos not so much).
    viclauyych2p
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Also, anyone who thinks that it would have been "better" to make these in China or Taiwan instead of Wisconsin ... raise your hands. Exactly.
    edited November 2020
  • Reply 3 of 8
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,015member
    cloudguy said:
    Also, anyone who thinks that it would have been "better" to make these in China or Taiwan instead of Wisconsin ... raise your hands. Exactly.
    What does no one raising their hands prove?

    Exactly. 
    Xedbestkeptsecrettmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,400member
    This was a tax scam to prop up a failed (former) administration and subsequently used as a campaign prop at the federal level -- while Foxconn may or may not have had any serious plans for fulfilling their side of the bargain, the passion with which they have pursued the tax benefits have far outweighed the amount of work they've put in to making this facility live up to its promises.

    Anyone picturing a production line of thousands of Wisconsinites making components a la Taiwan is deluding themselves ... this will most likely be an assembly plant for parts made elsewhere, and while that's fine too it means fewer jobs than fabrication/actual manufacturing would involve. Foxconn will do the bare minimum to keep the billions in tax incentives, and nothing more than that. Amazing they've managed to sing and dance this scam as long as they have so far.

    I'm glad to see it's not just empty space at last, but it's nothing even remotely near what they promised.
    montrosemacsRayz2016StrangeDaysronnviclauyycdewmeCloudTalkintmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    robabarobaba Posts: 170member
    Yeah, not holding my breath...
    Xedronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    Talk about over promising and under delivering. Was a corporate welfare tax scam, nothing more. 
    ronnRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,245member
    cloudguy said:
    "The facility should begin mass production of the components in the first quarter of 2021, timed with the release of Intel's Ice Lake server chips."

    That chip was supposed to launch like 6 months ago: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intels-xeon-scalable-ice-lake-sp-volume-ramp-delayed-to-q1-2021

    Ice Lake is the 10nm process. Server chips - especially for Google - would undoubtedly mean 56 core Xeons. Intel always takes care of their enterprise - meaning server, industrial, IoT - customers first before releasing laptop and desktop chips. 
    Google created its own server chips a few years ago to go along with their own design servers:
    https://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/05/18/google-alphago-powered-custom-ai-chip ;
    They've also created the OpenTitan chipset (which is available to other server makers), as well as the TitanM used in Pixel Phones

     As for Intel specifically they don't supply Xeons to Google. The company contracted with AMD for EPYC chips. Combined with Google's own TitanAI chipset it offers far more speed and processing power for Google servers than Intel could supply, and the hardened security Titan provides won't hurt.

    BTW, some other articles mention it was Google insisting on a US facility to produce these, not that it was Foxconn deciding to do so in the US after getting the contract.
    edited November 2020 tmayphilboogiemuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 8
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,879member
    chasm said:
    This was a tax scam to prop up a failed (former) administration and subsequently used as a campaign prop at the federal level -- while Foxconn may or may not have had any serious plans for fulfilling their side of the bargain, the passion with which they have pursued the tax benefits have far outweighed the amount of work they've put in to making this facility live up to its promises.

    Anyone picturing a production line of thousands of Wisconsinites making components a la Taiwan is deluding themselves ... this will most likely be an assembly plant for parts made elsewhere, and while that's fine too it means fewer jobs than fabrication/actual manufacturing would involve. Foxconn will do the bare minimum to keep the billions in tax incentives, and nothing more than that. Amazing they've managed to sing and dance this scam as long as they have so far.

    I'm glad to see it's not just empty space at last, but it's nothing even remotely near what they promised.
    Yeah, the show pony died and Wisconsin was left holding the snake oil covered saddle. But I heard that they were using some of the space for off season boat and RV storage. Even though this entire project was sad political theatre, I hope that something good eventually comes of it. People lost their homes to eminent domain only to see nothing but weeds, empty buildings, or parking lots spring up where there was once a community. The people of Wisconsin deserve better and I hope the local officials can work with the feds and committed manufacturers to salvage something that creates long term local jobs. 
    watto_cobra
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