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"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.
Good question. Intel did try with XScale - the fastest ARM at the time. One reason for its failure was that they only made CPUs, not SoCs. If they gave up on trying to shoehorn x86 in the mobile space (while holding back at the same time to avoid cannibalizing their main market), and instead went all-out on ARM then they could well become ARM manufacturer #1.
Intel used their ARM license for XScale which was successful in phones (ironically more so than Atom is today).
And I don't see Apple, QC or NVidia drop their ARM designs for x86 - even if competitive. There are advantages to creating your own designs rather than being at the whim of a single supplier.
Does Intel have an ARM arch license for all ARM architectures? I through it was only for the older instruction sets. That being said, do you need ARM's permission to FAB parts for another company who has bought the ARM cores?
I don't see how you can make any dent in volume products without making chips with ARM cores in there. Anything else would not be considered a high volume device. My guess is that Intel is just testing the waters with foundry flow business model.
The article does not state if the deal with Altera is exclusive or not. Assuming that it is not exclusive, expect Xilinx to do the same very soon. They will be crazy not to! But if the deal is exclusive, then this changes the rules of the game for the FPGA industry, with profound implications in about three to five years.