Intel is teaming up with an unlikely partner to bring new production to its Foundry Services business. Specifically, Intel is joining rival Arm to help build ARM-based CPU designers to build their chips on the Intel 18A process.
A joint press release explains how the collaboration works:
“Arm customers designing their next-generation mobile SoCs will benefit from leading-edge Intel 18A process technology, which delivers new breakthrough transistor technologies for improved power and performance, and from IFS's robust manufacturing footprint that includes U.S.- and EU-based capacity.”
Chips made at Intel's Foundry Services factories will focus on mobile SoC designs. That means future Arm-based CPUs coming to smartphones in future generations may have been built by Intel. While the deal is starting on mobile, it could expand to include Arm based processors for Internet of Things (IoT), datacenters, automotive systems, and more.
“There is growing demand for computing power driven by the digitization of everything, but until now fabless customers have had limited options for designing around the most advanced mobile technology,” said Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel Corporation.
“Intel's collaboration with Arm will expand the market opportunity for IFS and open up new options and approaches for any fabless company that wants to access best-in-class CPU IP and the power of an open system foundry with leading-edge process technology.”
Expanding the Arm-based Chip Manufacturing Market
The partnership also diversifies the Arm chip manufacturing industry. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TMSC) currently makes the majority of smartphone chips. Intel is clearly targeting some of this market share, while Arm will have more manufacturing freedom and not be reliant on TSMC.
In recent years, TSMC has been struggling amid the end market chip decline. The near two-year chip shortage that was exasperated by the pandemic saw the company come under pressure. TSMC is opening a new US plant in 2024 that will supply chipsets to Apple. A long-standing customer, Apple makes up 25% of TSMC's revenue each year.
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