Intel utilises SDN for automation potential in its factories

Semiconductor manufacturer Intel is shaking up its chip manufacturing process with Software-Defined Networking, in a move that supports automation

Chip manufacturer Intel has implemented software-defined networking (SDN) across its semiconductor manufacturing plants, in an unusual step for chip manufacturers. 

Intel’s 2021 Integrated Device Manufacturing (IDM) 2.0 blueprint will see the company utilise SDN in its chip-making factories to increase efficiency and security.

SDN in Intel's manufacturing plants

Intel was founded in 1968 and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California, where it manufactures computers and semiconductor chips. Following the supply chain crises, CEO Patrick Gelsinger has launched an expansion programme - from building semiconductor factories in Europe for the customer base there to using SDN.

SDN is a method which separates the control and data planes in networking equipment and it has several benefits. SDN supports automation in various tasks, which lowers the risk of manual configuration errors. Its centralised control allows manufacturers to control their whole network and have the flexibility to make adjustments in real-time. 

A manufacturing infrastructure to support automation

In a white paper, Intel explored its decision to switch to SDN. 

“We needed to move to an infrastructure that better supported automation, offered more flexible and dynamic security capabilities, and could reduce the overall impact when planned or unplanned changes occur.” 

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said he’s excited about the future of the company and proud of how Intel has embraced new methods of manufacturing. 

“This new era of sustained demand for semiconductors needs bold, big thinking. As CEO of Intel, I have the great privilege to be in a position to marshal the energies of 116,000 employees and a massive chip-design and manufacturing ecosystem, to meet the demand,” said Gelsinger. 

“The biggest benefit is that SDN helped Intel complete new factory network builds with 85% less headcount and weeks faster through the use of automated scripts,” said Intel’s Carlos Rojas. “Automation and SDN enable better scalability and consistency of security and policy controls, and the ability to deploy micro-segmentation, improving Intel’s security posture and reducing attack surfaces.”

“Our concept was to use data centre technologies and bring them to the manufacturing floor,” agreed Intel’s Rob Colby.


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