When Intel made an agreement sometime last year with TSMC in which Intel would open up its processor technology and allow the latter to manufacture Atom-based chips, it was thought that x86 might finally be able to make a legitimate challenge in the embedded device segment.

But with news that the collaboration is currently on hold, what does that mean for the future of x86-powered devices? Read on…


When Intel made a deal with TSMC a year back to allow the latter to manufacture customized versions of its x86-based Atom processors, it made waves globally, and for a good reason too, considering that Intel had always preferred to produce their own chips in-house as opposed to outsourcing it to external fabrication plants.

Unfortunately for those hoping for customized Atoms to hit the market as a result of the collaboration, it would seem that the deal has seemingly been shelved, as Intel has revealed that there were no “immediate plans” to market “any Atom chips manufactured by TSMC” due to insufficient demand from customers, although both companies “would continue to work together on it”.

This decision would probably have little to no effect on Intel’s current bottomline, considering that the bulk of its Atom sales comes from netbooks and tablet devices, where the processor drives the majority of such devices.

But it also means that the chip-maker still does not have a viable solution for entering the embedded space, an area which ARM strongly controls, and any delay in getting a suitable x86-driven chip out into that segment is only going to work in ARM’s favour.

As for the rest of us, it would seem that mass-produced x86-powered consumer electronic devices like smartphones, MP3 players and handheld gaming consoles will remain as nothing more than drawing board sketches and engineering samples for the forseeable future until development on Atom-based SoCs gain any further traction to pose a legitimate challenge to ARM.

Sources: EE Times India, The New York Times