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 sampling its 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.