Intel to start manufacturing third-party ARM chips in 2014

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2014
In a somewhat shocking turn of events, Intel, creators of the 8086 CPU and resulting x86 microchip architecture, will begin fabricating ARM processors for another company starting next year.

Intel


Intel partner Altera announced at the ARM developers conference on Tuesday that the chip making giant will start fabrication of its 64-bit ARM chips in 2014, reports Reuters.

The news came as a surprise to many, given Intel's uphill battle to relinquish ARM's stranglehold on the mobile marketplace. Intel's Atom chipsets go head-to-head against ARM-based chips like Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Nvidia's Tegra products.

With Tuesday's announcement, some speculate that Apple may by interested in switching a portion of its A-series orders to Intel. The Cupertino company reportedly inked a deal in June with chip making heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to fabricate its next-generation silicon.

Apple already uses Intel's latest Haswell laptop-class silicon in its MacBook lineup, desktop-class chips for the iMac and Xeon processors for the upcoming Mac Pro. The companies have also collaborated on a number of cutting edge projects like Thunderbolt.

Despite using Intel parts in Macs, Apple employs in-house designed ARM chips for its iOS devices. Up to this point, Samsung has been responsible for fabricating all A-series SoCs, including the A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s, as well as the forthcoming iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. Apple is thought to be distancing itself from its smartphone rival, however, thanks in no small part to an ongoing worldwide patent dispute.

The latest rumors claim Samsung will get a share of TSMC's business for the next-gen "A8" SoC, as the chip's advanced 20 nanometer process is said to be causing yield issues for the Taiwanese firm.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,525member
    doan-de-doan-doan, doan-de-doan-doan-DOAN!
  • Reply 2 of 64
    ksecksec Posts: 1,561member

    Too late, Apple has decided on TSMC for 20nm, And a Split of TSMC and Samsung for 14nm.

     

    May be Apple could do trial with Intel 14nm on Apple TV SoC or some other smaller batch SoC. But Definitely not on the iPhone / iPad.

  • Reply 3 of 64
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    "Hello, Intel? This is Tim."
  • Reply 4 of 64
    enzosenzos Posts: 344member

    > battle to relinquish ARM's stranglehold <

     

    Never use a big word unless it a) is more apt than a small one, and b) has the intended meaning. 

     

    You're welcome!

  • Reply 5 of 64
    Sure Apple can use Intel. Apple has the only 64-big ARM chip in a smartphone and tablet. And soon it will have AppleTV. Someone has to make all those chips.

    TSMC may have problems with yields since they are new to 20 nm chips. But Intel will have ZERO problems since making 15 nm and 20 nm chips is completely within their talent base.

    Intel can get half of the business, TSMC the other. Samsung will soon be cut off Apple's chip manufacturing.
  • Reply 6 of 64

    This looks like a good way to hedge their bets. Atom just isn't getting it done. They should stop using the name it has been so bad. 

  • Reply 7 of 64

    No! I thought that Apple's dream might be destroying Intel's tax and dominance, not power it.

     

    Just put 3 a7 at 25$ each on a redesigned macbook air. :)

  • Reply 8 of 64
    This could signal a HUGE shift for Intel. I'll be keeping an eye on their stock price. :)
  • Reply 9 of 64
    hello is this intel??
    TIm here.....
    screw samsung.
  • Reply 10 of 64

    Apple should use Intel as well.  Especially when they have a better 14nm process.

  • Reply 11 of 64
    This isn't the first time Intel has made ARM chips. In the early 2000s it made the StrongARM (the first 'supercomputer powered by AA batteries') after inheriting it from Digital Equipment Corp.
  • Reply 12 of 64
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,295member

    Of course Apple will use this, this is why it is probably happening. Intel can fab stuff, we know this. Good old intel.

  • Reply 13 of 64
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,752member

    Not sure why this is shocking. There have been rumors over the last year that Apple was courting Intel to fab their Arm chips. Apparently, concerns about the appearance of producing a CPU that was competitive to their own and some ARM licensing issues were complications. Many people expected the A7 was produced by Intel, until it was confirmed to be Samsung.

     

    http://hothardware.com/News/Despite-Claims-Apples-ARM-Business-A-Dubious-Opportunity-For-Intel-/

    Quote:


     Our trip to ARM last week actually highlighted some of the reasons why a foundry relationship between Intel and Apple would be difficult. Apple's A4 and A5 cores were custom implementations of a standard ARM Cortex-A8 / A9 processor, but the Apple A6 inside the iPhone 5 is based on Apple's own "Swift" architecture. Apple has its own processor design team now, and that means it would want a foundry license that gave it a great deal of flexibility and input into implementation and design. 


     


    Intel, meanwhile, simply isn't used to sharing control of those variables. The ARM license is another headache -- while Apple could certainly negotiate a license with ARM to fab their chips, none of ARM's designs have been ported for construction in Intel's factories. Intel, meanwhile, would take a serious PR hit for agreeing to fab ARM for Apple while simultaneously plugging its own x86 solutions. 



    Finally, there's the issue of time-to-ramp. Apple has been talking to TSMC about foundry work since at least 2011 but only signed an agreement recently. That speaks to the specifity of what Apple wants, the volume guarantees it required, and a careful negotiation process over what each party would control as far as semiconductor designs, foundry technologies, and IP production. Even assuming Intel could do the work more quickly than its Taiwanese competitor, it could still take 12-24 months for Cupertino and Santa Clara to hammer out an agreement. 



    After being burned (in its own opinion) by Samsung, Apple is going to insist on tough non-compete clauses. Intel, meanwhile, has a 22nm Atom architecture that it's itching to pitch at the smartphone market. Fabbing ARM chips for Apple could cripple that processors' reception -- who's going to believe it's a top-notch design if you're simultaneously building ARM processors for the most-visible smartphone vendor in the United States. It's hard to see Apple being thrilled with Intel if Intel ends up building chips for Samsung, Nokia, or HTC down the line -- particularly if those devices outperform Apple's own products. 



    This is the kind of deal that looks great at first glance but falls apart when both companies bring their long-term desires to the table. Intel would love to win the iPhone and iPad for Bay Trail or future Atom chips, but is going to be less enthusiastic about building ARM. Apple would love to take advantage of cutting-edge 22nm and 14nm technology, but would want a great deal of input into the manufacturing process and Intel's ability to compete with its own products. 



    Maybe one day -- but not today.


     

    Even back as far as 2011, there was speculation this would happen.

    http://arstechnica.com/business/2011/05/intel-to-fab-arm-chips-for-apple-its-possible/

  • Reply 14 of 64
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,752member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Richard Hallas View Post



    This isn't the first time Intel has made ARM chips. In the early 2000s it made the StrongARM (the first 'supercomputer powered by AA batteries') after inheriting it from Digital Equipment Corp.

    No, it's not the first time, but that was back before they decided to dump it in favour of their own architecture. 

  • Reply 15 of 64
    Having multiple suppliers is a good thing. Keeps pricing competitive and means that if one suppliers factory burns down that the world doesn't stop. Having three possible suppliers is good news.
  • Reply 16 of 64
    Originally Posted by quinney View Post

    doan-de-doan-doan, doan-de-doan-doan-DOAN!

     

    Wait, why Dragnet?

  • Reply 17 of 64
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,803member
    This looks like a good way to hedge their bets. Atom just isn't getting it done. They should stop using the name it has been so bad. 

    Intel should be embarrassed even AMD has done better with Brazos.
  • Reply 18 of 64
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,803member
    One point worth remembering here is that Intel has been producing gate arrays for some time for third parties. These are not low cost chips at all. In the case here with Altera this might not be a chip as we know them in the cell phone world. They could be building a core into a gate array.

    Need to do more reading.
  • Reply 19 of 64
    It is shocking it has taken Intel so long to get on the band wagon. I think the faster they start making 3rd party ARM designs, the better Apple products will get.
  • Reply 20 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jameskatt2 View Post



    Sure Apple can use Intel. Apple has the only 64-big ARM chip in a smartphone and tablet. And soon it will have AppleTV. Someone has to make all those chips.



    TSMC may have problems with yields since they are new to 20 nm chips. But Intel will have ZERO problems since making 15 nm and 20 nm chips is completely within their talent base.



    Intel can get half of the business, TSMC the other. Samsung will soon be cut off Apple's chip manufacturing.

     

    People overestimate the AppleTV market.   TV/set top boxes don't turn over every 18 months. and most homes don't have a TV for every adult in the house.  especially in non-US markets.   TVs sell less than desktops (businesses don't buy TVs per employee). and definitely less than laptops.

     

    The boomlet will be when corporate desktops evolve to being just VDI 'terminals'   They won't need highend performance, and a simple gigabit docking station for a tablet or a netbook will be enough.  That's when the ARM chip boom will occur.  (about the same time I see Apple deciding the fate of an A1Xx based MBA).    My guess in 3 years there will be a tipping point on ARM vs Atom/Skylake, and Intel wants to be a winner whatever side the market sways.

     

    In any event, I'm sure Tim didn't call Intel... but I'll bet that Krzanich called Tim, saying "you know we have the capacity, and the talent... We'll prove that we can deliver as ARM fab with Altera... that should lower the risk to zero for us as your A9 Partner, compared to TMSC and Samsung.  I'll call back next June when those specs are coming into line and I'll give you the 'Valley' discount."

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