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It appears Intel actually needs ARM – IDF

Posted by Andrew Shephard on 23rd August 2016

Intel’s announcement on day-1 of its San Francisco IDF that it is to provide foundry services at its 10nm node to LG is actually rather interesting.

Not just because of the tie up with a key and influential Korean technology business that will compete with the might of Samsung, but also because the fact that the parts Intel will make for LG are under license from ARM to achieve the best “(power, performance, area) for power-efficient, high-performance implementations of their designs for mobile, IoT and other consumer applications” – states the release Intel issued

Some commentators are already citing this as an admission that Intel is finally accepting that ARM adoption is correct and inevitable for mobile and for IoT, and that x86 isn’t really going to cut it in those markets – ever. I think that’s a simplistic view and Intel is simply trying to highlight its Custom Foundry offering to some more mainstream customers.

There’s an interesting commercial twist to this too because as a foundry partner for ARM, Intel – like ARM’s other foundry partners: TSMC, Global Foundries and Samsung – pay a royalty to ARM for access to physical IP to enable then to simply do the manufacturing job.

So not only is Intel’s Custom Foundry team unveiling a mobile device win for LG, based on ARM, but it will be paying ARM for the necessary manufacturing IP to deliver ARM-based SOCs for mobile applications. This is no simple process either as the physical IP has to be co-developed to match every single foundry’s core process, so an awful lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get them to this point.

ARM-cores in SOC’s made by Intel for LG – how things have changed since I started communication in this sector nearly twenty years ago.

Andrew Shephard

Andrew’s engineering background and ‘fluff-free’ attitude combined with probably the broadest knowledge of technology installed in one PR brain ensures critical insight for Wildfire’s clients. He has driven campaigns for major forces in the semiconductor industry over 18 years including NEC Electronics, Sun Microelectronics and TSMC along with game-changing start-ups like Achronix and Nujira.