Foundry will never be more than a fun and modestly useful sideline for Intel.
Intel believes it needs to own the product to win the market. It wants to define the system (aka platform) and sell several high value chips into it. To succeed, it needs to be at the leading edge of process technology, but it doesnít really want to share that technology in any significant with anyone else.
It certainly wonít share its technology with anyone making computer chips. These days that includes mobile application processors for smartphones and tablets that are the new personal computers.
Intel wants the smartphone and tablet to use an Atom x86. Qualcomm and other ARM licensees could be on the verge of expiring for lack of the latest process technology and Intel would not turn on the tap for them.
Intel is dabbling in the foundry business as a fun sideline. It makes a little investment in an orthogonal market like FPGAs (Achronix, Tablula) or network processors (Netronome), then it gives them a little shove forward by giving them a taste of its 22 nm tri-gate technology.
The startups donít need many wafers. They take a few dollars from companies such as Altera, Broadcom, Cavium or Xilinx and put them in Intel Capitalís pocket. In the course of this side business, the startups may help Intel refine its latest process.
But donít expect Intel to open the flood gates on the foundry business anytime soon. Intel wants to dominate the world with x86 chips, not wafers.