When I saw the title, I assumed this was Intel's way to get into ARM without losing face. But... no. It's Atom. They just won't give up on x86. Sorry Intel, nobody wants it, execpt for the few thousand Win8 tablets getting churned out every month.
Intel wants access to ARM IP without paying for it. And access to design knowledge that offers a quick learning curve.
Just like Intel wanted and took Cyrix IP, wanted NexGen IP, wanted AMD IP and got away with the K6 feature set and design schedules, wanted DEC Alpha IP; took some you tell me, the close scrutiny of processor and platform innovations that come from a leading design enablement.
Intel so often the fast follower is certainly skilled in the subtle techniques of reuse.
Today ARM World presents a double edged sword.
Because if ARM we're to sell some kind of design license to Intel, at this point in the tragedy that is Intel confidence placements into ARM Inc., there would be a massive licensee lawsuit targeting ARM Ltd.
It's bad enough ARM over subscribes the design license that presses customers into purchasing the architectural license; although a necessity for competing in Intel time and Intel space.
Not to mention ARM Ltd. obsolescing designs in the pipe on rampant intellectual property introductions, as of late, that does wipe out cluster RISK development, enabling a contrived game of leap frog without fully considering the constituent effects. Or offering benefit of a coordinated plan to defray them?
Is ARM selfish or running scared? Acting like some other enterprise we know? Where (you fill in company name), a take it or leave it attitude so often one indicator there will be new entrants soon.
Finally, one must consider the regulatory question of two monopoly intellectual property holders having combined horizontally. Conversely Intel is aimed too displace some open industry volume, at TSMC, that Intel cannot afford to fabricate on their own in house marginal cost structure.
Times are interesting and the developing world is indeed becoming a very convoluted place.
You won't have to wait for the Rockchip SoC to get a handle on Silvermont versus ARM on a TSMC 28nm process -- the Intel SoFIA chips already announced and slated for shipment later this year (dual core) and early next year (quad core) will tell the same story. That's why Intel could work this deal with Rockchip -- they already had ported Silvermont to the TSMC process.
If Intel can sell Rockchip SoCs without any "contra-revenue" that will be a big help to Intel's bottom line. Actually, just a little help, since there's not a lot of revenue involved in low-end tablet chips, regardless of what core is inside.
Intel is unlikely to use ARM GPU IP, but Intel's own IP is out of the question for this generation as well given that Intel's major graphics overhauls happen at 14nm (and the current Gen 7 GPU from Intel is very poor).
My guess is that the entire SoFIA lineup, as with the 22nm Merrifield/Moorefield platforms, will use Imagination IP. Intel has experience writing drivers for ImgTec AND Intel is Imagination's largest shareholder.
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