Intel Expresses Interest in Making Foundry Deals to Produce Custom Chips

intel logoReuters reports that Intel executives today expressed interested in making deals to produce custom chips for customers such as Apple, signaling that the company "wouldn't blink" about basing such custom chips on Intel's own architecture but that operating as a strict contract foundry for non-Intel-based chips would be a more difficult decision for the company.

"If Apple or Sony came to us and said 'I want to do a product that involves your IA (Intel architecture) core and put some of my IP around it', I wouldn't blink. That would be fantastic business for us."

"Then you get into the middle ground of 'I don't want it to be a IA core, I want it to be my own custom-designed core,' and then you are only getting the manufacturing margin, (and) that would be a much more in-depth discussion and analysis."

Initial reports had suggested that Apple might be shifting away from Samsung for production of its custom ARM-based chips used in its iOS device, turning to foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for production. And while Apple may still be looking to shift at least some capacity to TSMC, an early teardown of the A5 chip included in the iPad 2 confirmed that the chip was manufactured by Samsung.

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Top Rated Comments

iJays Avatar
172 months ago
very big IF ;)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lilo777 Avatar
172 months ago
This interview actually indicates two things:

1) There is absolutely no ongoing discussions with Apple about providing foundry services.
2) If someone were to ask Intel for foundry services when the product does not rely on IA architecture "that would be a much more in-depth discussion and analysis" as opposed to cases where the product is based on Intel core (no discussions there - Intel is absolutely open for those deals).
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Consultant Avatar
172 months ago
Intel doesn't want to get left behind by our increasingly mobile based society.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mdriftmeyer Avatar
172 months ago
The writing is nowhere near on the wall for ARM taking over x86 in anything but the mobile handset business. Now, if ARM starts to make a serious threat to their business, it will become a more serious discussion if they still have a 1 generation process advantage over the rest of the world's foundries. However, by doing so, they would only make ARM's products better, undercutting their own. I'd say them making ARM cores is a long long way away, if it ever happens.

Now, if you want to start talking about custom Intel cores that Apple collaborates with to make their logic boards, and by extension their products, more compact, I think that's a high value proposition for both sides.

Intel is DOA for the Embedded space. Let them waste several billion attempting to compete against ARM licensing solutions. They won't win.

Not only is ARM the iOS Platform for hardware, it is as well for Android, RIM and even Windows 7 Mobile is moving to ARM.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mdriftmeyer Avatar
172 months ago
Intel isn't getting it

Apple has spent a few billion developing their own IP and licensing of ARM IP with ImgTec to develop a NON-INTEL solution.

They aren't moving towards INTEL for the Embedded space. They are moving as far away as possible.

Just follow the LLVM project to catch a clue.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hellhammer Avatar
172 months ago
The writing is nowhere near on the wall for ARM taking over x86 in anything but the mobile handset business. Now, if ARM starts to make a serious threat to their business, it will become a more serious discussion if they still have a 1 generation process advantage over the rest of the world's foundries. However, by doing so, they would only make ARM's products better, undercutting their own. I'd say them making ARM cores is a long long way away, if it ever happens.

Now, if you want to start talking about custom Intel cores that Apple collaborates with to make their logic boards, and by extension their products, more compact, I think that's a high value proposition for both sides.

But it looks like Intel is seeing ARM as a serious threat. These recent announcements of Tri-Gate, lower TDP CPUs and now this are starting to look like Intel seriously tries to do something. Sure, Tri-Gate was in development for years so Intel didn't decide to design it yesterday but still, they could have pushed it further away.

ARM lets OEMs do their own chips which can be a huge advantage. If Intel allows the same, ARM has one less advantage. Great news I think, I would appreciate some extra competition between OEMs and this would definitely provide it if every OEM had a slightly different chip.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)