To date, Intel has announced it is making chips in its 22-nm FinFET process for two FPGA startups, Achronix and Tablua, and network processor maker Netronome. Achronix officially started samplingits FPGAs based on Intel’s 22-nm technology last week, claiming it is two years ahead of competitors using TSMC.
Unconfirmed reports have said Intel could be making 22-nm ASICs for Cisco. Others said the PC chip giant may be working on a deal to make mobile processors for Apple, which is trying to reduce its foundry dependence on archrival Samsung.
Daane expressed confidence Intel will be able to meet Altera’s volume requirements
“Clearly this is a step up for us,” said an Intel spokesman. “We were proceeding slowly and cautiously [into the foundry business] and now we are increasing the pace,” he said.
Intel will have its 14-nm process in production later this year, the spokesman added. Globalfoundries announced last fall it plans to accelerate its road map, making a 14-nm process available some time in 2014.
The Altera deal “puts Intel out there as a contender in the foundry market,” said Joanne Itow, manufacturing analyst at Semico Research Corp.
Itow noted that TSMC founder Morris Chang listed Intel as a competitor in a recent conference call. Altera will get at least a one or two year advantage using Intel’s 14-nm process, Itow said, but she doubted the FPGA maker will be able to ship the parts until sometime in 2014.
Do you seriously believe Intel will fab ARM SoCs for all its competitors on its latest processes? That won't happen unless Intel spins off its expensive idling fabs, or if demand for x86 CPUs falls significantly.
This quote just added to the story:
"It is not Intel's objective to become a general foundry service provider," said Len Jelinek, a chief analyst at IHS iSuppli. Rather it aims "to select a few high volume [foundry] clients [that] provide Intel with an additional revenue stream to help defer the cost of its advanced manufacturing capability," he said.
In a world dominated increasingly by ARM based designs at the expense of X86, device & mfg are Intel's remaining strengths. But to stay ahead of the pack and generate enough revenue for R&D and next gen Fabs, Intel needs volume. Otherwise TSMC will soon catch up.
To maintain R&D & process lead Intel must not only generate enough revenue of its own but also deny TSMC and Samsung the tech creds and huge revenues they have been making from Foundry service. Even though demand for Mobile chips is expected to grow at 30+ %, when it comes to tech creds. and markup ( ASP ) it is still a zero sum game. Just look at TSMC vs older UMC at 28 nm.
As Intel's cash cow PC business begins to stagnate in spite of their best design / marketing effort, they need to find new volume, FPGAs and network processors ain't gonna do it. Mobile is the obvious answer.
Pushing own high end designs ( but with 32 nm transistors - no better than Foundries ! ) as a continuation of the top dog mentality ( a byproduct of the x86 monopoly ) has bombed.
Instead Intel should accept reality and implement a nuanced strategy to grow its Mobile business, but still leveraging their lead in process / mfg. tech :
1. Commit to QC and AAPL no competition in leading edge chips for Mobile ( what does US anti-trust laws have to say about that ? any exceptions during the Great Recession ? )
2. Offer these large Fabless co.s Foundry service from Intel's upcoming 20,14 nm Fabs( 2 nodes, well ahead of TSMC / Samsung ).
3. develop its own non ARM architecture & processor / baseband chips ( like MediaTek ) for low end Smartphones & Tablets ( perhaps cheap Windows Phablets to replace Laptops ) aimed at emerging markets but still using its leading node ( 20 nm ) Fabs & therefore lower power ( compared to TSMC or Samsung )