Intel and Arm join forces on chip production     

IoT chips

UK chip designer Arm and Intel’s contract manufacturing business unit Intel Foundry Services (IFS) have partnered to combine Arm core and Intel angstrom-era process technology.

The deal will enable chip designers to build low-power compute system-on-chips (SoCs) on the Intel 18A process. Arm partners will now be able to utilise Intel’s open system foundry model, which as well as ‘traditional’ wafer fabrication includes packaging, software and chiplets.

The initial focus will be mobile SoC designs, but that will potentially expand into automotive, Internet of Things (IoT), data centre, aerospace and government applications in the future.

We’re told the collaboration will enable a more balanced global supply chain for foundry customers working in mobile SoC design on Arm-based CPU cores – and by balanced it presumably means utilising facilities in the West as opposed to the historically dominant East Asian fabs.

IFS and Arm say they will undertake ‘design technology co-optimization’ which is about chip design and process technologies being optimized together, and develop a mobile reference design.

“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.”

Rene Haas, CEO of Arm added: “Arm’s secure, energy-efficient processors are at the heart of hundreds of billions of devices and the planet’s digital experiences. As the demands for compute and efficiency become increasingly complex, our industry must innovate on many new levels. Arm’s collaboration with Intel enables IFS as a critical foundry partner for our customers as we deliver the next generation of world-changing products built on Arm.”

Intel and others have thrown significant bucks into developing chip production of various kinds in the US and Europe in the last few years, in part driven by increased demand due to the ‘digitization of everything’ Intel mentions in the release. The messier and more troubling driver is the growing rift between the West and China and a desire by the US, UK and EU countries to not rely on operations nearby China for what has become a vital resource.

There doesn’t seem to be much cause to be optimistic about an easing of tensions anytime soon either sadly, as indicated by this week’s Chinese military drills around the coast of Taiwan, where TSMCs leading mobile chip facilities are based.


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