64-bit ARM cores to be fabricated on Intel’s line using its 14 nm FinFET process.
Intel partner Altera announced today that it is planning on manufacturing Altera Stratix 10 chips that use ARM’s 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores in Intel’s fabrication facility.
This isn’t the first fabrication partnership between Intel and Altera: in June Altera announced that it was beginning manufacturing its new FGPA line using Intel’s 14nm FinFET process.
Though Altera’s Stratix 10 isn’t a household name, and likely won’t be appearing in any consumer devices anytime soon as it’s intended for servers and embedded systems, this move shows that Intel is putting more effort into being an outsource provider for fabless semiconductor companies.
Speaking to Forbes, Insight 64’s Nathan Brookwood said there was considerable strength in the partnership.
“It’s huge. Imagine ARM’s most powerful and technologically advanced 64-bits processor built on Intel’s leading-edge fabs. A duo that will be hard to beat,” he said.
But semiconductor manufacturing is already a crowded space. While Intel may want to rack up outsourcing contracts in order to ensure that its factories do not lay dormant in an era of slowing demand for PCs, Brookwood’s posture that Intel will build “Qualcomm’s Snapdragon or the Nvidia Tegra for the right price” probably isn’t correct. It’s likely that Intel won’t let it’s fabing for other companies put it in a position where it will be competing with itself.
While Intel is now using its fabs to manufacture ARM chips, it’s for a niche market that Intel doesn’t really directly compete in at the moment. Intel fabbed ARM chips going against Intel’s Bay Trail mobile chips isn’t a likely thing to happen anytime soon.