The on-again, off-again Intel/Altera acquisition was the talk of a cocktail hour sponsored by Imagination Tech where tech execs talked of Moore's Law and VR.
Thanks to Imagination Technologies for hosting a heck of a dinner party at Silicon Valley’s new Levi’s Stadium. Top tech execs from HP, Juniper Networks and Qualcomm came out to give short talks on the long-term tech horizon, attracting other tech luminaries who lit up the cocktail hour chitchat.
Intel’s on-again, off-again acquisition of Altera was one of the favorite themes of talk over drinks. One Wall Streeter refers to this star-crossed romance as a soap opera.
Indeed, Altera’s stock price shot up one Friday afternoon when the Wall Street Journal first reported the deal was getting done that weekend. Perhaps Intel spiked the deal when the story jacked up the merger price, a slap in the face to whoever leaked word, presumably to pump the price. Perhaps.
I’ve lost track of the number of reports the deal is back on or back off again. Analysts told me initially the ~$16 billion price was too much to spend for ~$2 billion in annual revenues, even though Altera’s FPGAs would help Intel nicely extend its reach beyond the slumping x86 PC market.
One luminary at the party said Intel wants Altera’s bottom line, not its top line. The FPGA maker reaps good profits that would improve significantly once Intel gutted Altera’s SG&A and made it an Intel division.
He further opined that if the deal goes through, Avago will buy Xilinx within six months. Avago is the only one that has the money and an acquisitive management, he said. Perhaps.
Interestingly, Intel recently announced a deal to use eASIC technology in and/or around its server processors for the kinds of things it might otherwise do in FPGAs. I take this as either a second slap in the face to Altera for leaks or a sincere search for a lower cost alternative — or both.
In any case, I’ve vowed I’ll write no more Intel/Altera stories until a deal actually happens, if it ever does. I guess this column is a Chardonnay-inspired exception.
Among other interesting thoughts, one former AMD veteran said the company ought to go chipless. An AMD that sells homegrown x86, ARM and Radeon cores but makes no chips would be significantly more profitable, he said.
Not so fast, said another tech luminary. Intel put the screws to AMD with its latest licensing deal, making it pay big bucks and giving it no room to sell x86 cores, he said. AMD’s deal to make custom ARM cores may not be very much more generous, he added.
AMD needs to do something, one luminary said. If the company’s next-generation x86 core, code-named Zen, is not a big hit, it’s lights out for the company. That’s a lot of pressure on Jim Keller, the man behind Zen and the prior AMD Athlon core, but he’s a smart guy — and apparently too busy to get to the Imagination event.
Next page: On Moore’s Law and virtual reality