Altera told Taiwan foundry "still committed 95% of its volume going forward" . Just one product on next generation Intel 14FF.
However, this does mean Altera has no interested in Taiwan foundry finfet going forward (16FF or 10FF). Move driven since early test chips on Taiwan foundry 16FF were not promising for speed or power(16FF worse than current FPGA 28HP).
This is a very dangerous time for Intel. They have had a very good run with x86, but this market is flattening. Intel has huge overhead costs for design and manufacturing, they depend on the growth of x86 to sustain their business model. The fact that Intel is pursuing foundry deals is an admission that they cannot fill their cutting edge fabs with x86, not to mention their older fabs. Intel needs to find a new business model or accept a future where there is a potential death spiral of declining profits, declining technology investiment, and declining leadership in process technology.
Here's the reason for ALTR's move - quote from yesterday when ALTR presented @ Morgan Stanley Tech conference.
Intel has die size advantage because it seems very difficult to scale the backend/interconnect.
Also FPGA are early adopters of bleeding edge - it's a blow to TSMC
Well, the most obvious reason is it's, obviously, a smaller nanometer, 14 versus 20, even though 16 is called, 16 FF, it's actually 20 nanometers. But the real key, as you get to these smaller and smaller geometries, is the need for essentially FinFET or technology that prevents transistors from arcing. And Intel's had that technology at 22 and obviously, we'll have that at 14, and it becomes increasingly important as you move down the nodes and that's the biggest reason. TSMC will have it. We feel that this was a -- those of you that talked to me before, you know that we do a constant evaluation of foundry capability, weighing a number of factors, been really open about that and at this point, we just decided this made the most sense. Keep in mind TSMC still is building all of our products and so they're still a very, very important partner to us
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 )
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.
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