(Editor’s note: This curated careers post about Europe’s chips sector and careers at Intel is part of Dispatches’ Tech Tuesday series. Dispatches covers tech because the sector is the major expat employer of highly skilled internationals. We receive no remuneration for this series.)
Famously, in “The Graduate,” it was plastics in 1967. In 2022, it’s chips. Highly skilled international, are you looking for career opportunities that guarantee (as much as anything can be guaranteed these days) opportunities, security and cold, hard cash? One word: “Chips.”
Shortening the supply chain
The semiconductor industry is certain to get bigger, and nowhere is the the pressure to shorten the supply chain more intense than in Europe’s semiconductor sector.
About 75 percent of computer chips are made in Asia, with Taipei-based TSMC accounting for 90 percent production. (Interesting factoid: The United States is more dependent now on chips from Asia than it was on the Middle East back in the day for petroleum.) Throw in Samsung and other companies and Asia controls production … and struggles to keep up with demand. American chip makers control 15 percent, leaving about 10 percent made in Europe.
As a result, chip shortages crippled auto production in Europe and other sectors increasingly reliant on digitization.
Demand for cutting-edge semiconductor technology in Europe will increase rapidly in the next few years – to 43 percent in 2030 to 19 percent now. At the same time, demand for chips as a whole will also more than double, according to a study by Kearney, a Chicago-based management consulting firm.
The European Commission has discussed in the vaguest possible terms support for increasing Europe’s share of the chip market. The European Chips Act will be announced soon … very soon. Thierry Breton, European commissioner for the internal market, said the European Chips Act, which he hopes to announce this month, would strengthen the bloc’s position in the global semiconductor industry through funding and other support for research and investment.
EU leaders have promised to match any incentives/subsidies to manufacturers the Americans propose to lure new chip plants. It’s really, really hard to imagine they can actually do that, because first national plans have to be approved and funded before an EU-wide effort can start to unfold.
As usual, while the Europeans are planning, the Americans and Taiwanese are doing.
Intel, the largest United States-based chipmaker, is planning to expand production across Europe, investing $95 billion. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor pioneer had promised to reveal two major new European chip fabrication foundries by the end of 2021. That didn’t happen … yet. What did happen is that Intel just announced a $20 billion initial investment in a new plant in Columbus, Ohio, where a Dispatches-affiliated company has a presence.
Ultimately in Europe, Germany, France and Italy are most likely to benefit from Intel’s global expansion plan. This would put Intel head-to-head with TSMC. And of course, ASML – headquartered here in Eindhoven, Dispatches’ base – will benefit directly since they sell TSMC and everyone else the photolithography machines that makes the computer chip business possible.
The Intel investment spree comes as Intel launches its own foundry business, developing chips for other companies. Last year, the firm announced it would manufacture Qualcomm chips and package AWS chiplets. New fabs take years to come on line and generally cost an average of $12 billion to get up and running. Intel execs told Reuters on 21 January that Europe will get plants, announcing them in the coming months.
So, that was our cue to look at jobs available here in Europe now as the continent becomes more important to Intel.
Turns out there are far bigger deals on the planning boards than Intel’s. TSMC, the biggest chipmaker of them all, has plans to add capacity in Europe, considering Germany for its first production facility in Europe. The Wall Street journal quotes Chairman Mark Liu the company is increasing its capital expenditures to $44 billion and currently assessing the feasibility of a new fab in Europe.
In 2021, TSMC posted record top-line revenue of about $57 billion, up 18.5 percent from a year earlier. Its Q4 net profit rose 16.4 percent from the same period a year earlier, driven by strong demand from 5G applications, high-performance computing devices and automotive electronics. TSMC currently only has a small operation in the Netherlands.
So, let’s start with Intel and what’s already available career-wise in Europe. Intel already employs about 10,000 people across the continent from Romania to Sweden. But Intel execs have stated several times that Germany is likely to be the recipient of any large expansion.
Intel has more than 3,000 employees across five campuses in Germany, according to its website, and it has at least 31 positions open as of the first of February.
Here’s a sample:
Senior design engineer for embedded memory product support, Munich:
You need these qualifications:
- a degree (BS/MS) in electrical engineering, material sciences, physics, chemistry or equivalent experience
- 7-plus years of hands-on professional experience on SRAM/ROM design and/or integration
- proven experience of digital design, DfT and MBIST functionality for SRAM/ROM or RF
The job requires:
- enabling memory compilers and optimization software in emerging technologies
- developing and validating RTL wrapper designs and DfT automation scripts
- guiding teams on DfT and MBist topics for high memory yield
- defining embedded memory IP integration guidelines for customer design projects
No, we don’t know what any of this means, but if you do, by all means, apply here.
Intel currently has 62 open positions in Ireland, with the majority in Leixlip where the American company has 4,500 employees and has invested $22 billion since the facility opened in 1989.
AI software development engineer, Leixlip
As an AI Software Development Engineer, you would play an integral role in being responsible for supporting the architecture team, defining the set of software deliverables and how they fit in the overall software stack as well as designing, implementing and testing deliverables.
Your qualifications should include:
• strong C programming skills and knowledge of microprocessor/microcontroller architectures
• at least five years’ relevant experience on commercial embedded C/C++ projects
• experience with embedded systems
• experience working with embedded RTOS
• ability to create software designs based on architecture and requirements
• experience with heterogenous architectures
This is an interesting one – Offensive security researcher, Amsterdam.
Your job? Finding the most strategic targets and attack vectors from “a holistic perspective,” according to the job listing. Intel is looking for offensive security researchers who are comfortable working in a multidisciplinary team to find vulnerabilities in new products and technologies by using either a black or white box approach.
The job requires:
- bachelor’s, Master’s degree or PhD in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, mathematics, physics or relevant domains
- experience in two or more of the following topics: advanced knowledge of computer architecture, CPU micro-architecture (x86, ARM or others), knowledge about SoCs and hardware in general
- proof of Concept/exploit writing
- experience in reverse engineering
- experience in blackbox testing
- knowledge of side-channel attack vectors, including transient execution and physical attacks
- Experience with dynamic/static analysis and fuzzing
We’ll have more on the sector as new fabs are announced. Stay tuned ….
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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.