Intel Foundry Embraces ARM To Take On TSMC & Samsung

Intel made an important strategic move clearing its blurry vision to succeed in mobile space by inevitably supporting and partnering with its biggest competitor and mobile market leader ARM.

Intel has been the technology leader for high-power computing solutions though lost to ARM on the low-power computing market over the last decade as the mobile computing segment outgrew the personal computing segment by almost five times in terms of market size.

This move is more important then billions of dollars Intel has spent over the last few years to make amends in mobile space. This might not be “the step” but a critical one to build mobile expertise and experience curve in manufacturing ARM based SOCs and in next four-to-five years challenge the behemoths TSMC and Samsung to woo away core customers such as Apple, Qualcomm or Huawei.

Intel’s 10 nm design platform for foundry customers will now offer access to ARM® Artisan® physical IP, including POP™ IP, based on the most advanced ARM cores and Cortex series processors. The POP IP will be critical for Intel to win premium customers allowing them to design and manufacture advanced ARM based solutions in future.  Since ARM doesn’t directly compete in foundry business for ARM this is a big win as it is final nail in the coffin for Intel platform’s Mobile SOC dreams and for Intel foundry business it is imperative to embrace ARM.

Some marquee customers committed to Intel’s foundry are:

  • LG Electronics grows on its ambitions to become a vertically integrated player like Samsung or Huawei to produce its SOCs on Intel Custom Foundry’s 10 nm design platform.
  • Spreadtrum committing to design its chips on its investor Intel’s 14nm foundry platform, will be a big loss for SMIC. This will also allow Intel to be much closer to entry- to mid- tier market semiconductor solutions manufacturing than ever before
  • Achronix Semiconductor a high-performance application-targeted FPGAs fabless semiconductor player for networking infrastructure is already in production for its Speedster 22i HD1000 networking silicon on Intel’s 22 nm design platform
  • Netronome which produces silicon and software architecture in server-based networking software is also in production for its networking silicon – NFP-6480 on Intel’s 22nm design platform
  • Intel which acquired Altera for $17 Billion earlier this year is also an existing customer building its first true 14 nm FPGA to achieve advanced PPA (power, performance, area)

While this is a small list compared to TSMC and Samsung, but Intel here has to build on its years of foundry experience and process leadership championing the Moore’s law into the mobile space which it didn’t do well with its own architecture based solutions. It will be a mammoth task though an important one for Intel to have on foot in the mobile space to remain relevant in next decade when low-power architecture based billions of IoT devices proliferate globally.

The competitive environment will heat up more post 2018 as Intel makes bigger moves to attract larger clientele on proven success stories.