Intel’s End-to-End Advanced Analytics is a Competitive Advantage: Product Architecture Design through Supply Chain Planning

Intel’s products support a wide variety of customers spanning a broad spectrum of usage models each with a specific set of product requirements. The requirements differ with respect to number of compute cores, processor speed, power consumption, rapid memory access, and input/output ports. Efficient product feature design integrated with supply chain planning is critical to Intel’s success given its scale, complexity of its products and manufacturing processes, and the highly capital-intensive nature of the semiconductor business.


At any point in time, Intel is delivering hundreds of different products to its customer base through its large and complex manufacturing and supply chain while at the same time designing the next generation of products to meet its customers’ needs. In response to an exponential increase in complexities, Intel developed an innovative set of capabilities using advanced analytics that span product feature design through supply chain planning with the goal of maximizing revenue while minimizing cost wherever possible. This set of corporate-wide capabilities is fast and effective, enabling analysis of many more business scenarios in much less time than previous solutions while providing superior results including faster response to customers.


A large part of the product feature design problem is defining a finite number of stock keeping units (SKUs) with associated values for key features to best cover market needs and balance against manufacturability and costs. Given the broad range of Intel’s application areas and customers, the combinatorics faced by product feature designers is daunting and involves search spaces of plausible plans numbering from 1010  to 1050.


The output of the product feature design process feeds the supply chain planning and manufacturing execution process, which routes products through 6+ manufacturing stages, at 200+ internal and outsourced factories across 13 countries. Intel’s manufacturing flow begins with wafer fabrication. Each wafer is a thin circular disk of silicon 200-300mm in diameter and containing 15 to 15,000 complete integrated circuits, or die, depending on die size.


Each wafer is separated into a number of die that are placed into a protective container with external connectors, which will enable attachment to printed circuit boards. At times multiple die from different wafers are used for multi-chip products. Intel is especially focused on the efficiency of using every die on every wafer to supply a saleable product across the architectures of the entire Intel product portfolio.  


The assembled items are then tested to measure actual performance. Tests help separate items into categories defined by performance ranges for a combination of the key features. Lastly, the items go through a Finish process that results in individual SKUs. Each wafer could have hundreds of thousands of possible manufacturing routes before it ends up as one of the SKUs shipped to customers. Faster, better, and more integrated decision making is increasingly important to Intel’s decision process, as its products have become more complex. 


Each year, Intel introduces several new products and plans for roughly 400 unique wafer types totaling 2.5 million of wafer volume, which results in 4,000 unique SKUs accounting for 600 million in SKU volume. Products can flow through six or more manufacturing stages at more than 200 internal and outsourced factories across 13 countries. 


Given the scale of Intel, the complexity of our products, and highly capital-intensive nature of semiconductor manufacturing, efficient product feature design integrated with optimal manufacturing processing and routing translates to billions of dollars of benefit per year, realizing increased revenue by an average of $1.9 billion and reduced cost by $1.5 billion annually, for a total benefit of $25.2 billion to date. 


It also supports Intel’s sustainability efforts, enabling Intel to contribute to its environmental protection goals. Semiconductor manufacturing has a high reliance on water and Intel is leading the way with respect to reduction in water usage and the resultant waste water. Intel recycles the majority of the water it uses for manufacturing. The post-manufacturing treatment practiced by Intel produces water that often exceeds local government drinking water standards. Intel’s supply chain planning capability resulted in the reduction of water usage by 2 billion gallons of water and more than 500 million gallons of waste water prevention so far over the 10-year timeframe of the project. 



Intel Corporation

Intel Corporation has been a driving force in the Information Revolution for over 50 years. Desktop and laptop computers have contributed to substantial productivity gains in the office and the factory. Modern supercomputers have revolutionized the scientific process by enabling research to move beyond the constraints of physical experimentation. Perhaps most importantly, servers and networking have revolutionized many activities of importance to the global society. This list includes telecommunications for individuals and businesses, banking and finance, commercial and recreational transportation, manufacturing and services industries, wholesale and retail businesses, medicine, education, agriculture, and others.