Intel Foundry Services partners with Arm to manufacture next-generation mobile chips

Intel Foundry Services partners with Arm to manufacture next-generation mobile chips

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Intel Corp. said today its Intel Foundry Services business unit is partnering with the British chip design firm Arm Ltd. to enable semiconductor designers to build low-power systems-on-chip on its cutting-edge manufacturing process.

The companies will initially focus on mobile SoC designs before expanding the deal to cover chips for automotive, internet of things, data center, aerospace and government applications. Under the agreement, customers that use Arm’s designs as the basis of their chips will be able to use Intel’s 18A process technology to manufacture their products.

The deal is said to be a big boon for customers, since Intel 18A is a more advanced process with capacity in both the U.S. and Europe. It will allow customers to design chips using electronic design automation software from third-party suppliers. EDA software is used by semiconductor engineers to create processor blueprints. The result will be more powerful processors with greater energy efficiency, Intel said.

Under the initiative, IFS and Arm will work together on design technology co-optimization, wherein chip design and process manufacturing are optimized to improve the power, performance and cost of Arm-based cores using the Intel 18A technology. Intel 18A is said to leverage two new technologies, including PowerVia for optimal power delivery and RibbonFET “gate all around” transistor architecture, which ensures optimal performance and power.

As part of this cooperation, IFS and Arm plan to develop a mobile reference design to demonstrate the technology to customers.

The deal is another key milestone for IFS, following its partnership with the Taiwanese semiconductor firm MediaTek Inc. that was announced last July. Intel set up the foundry business in 2021 to manufacture chips for other companies based on their own custom designs.

In the past, the chipmaker primarily focused on making processors based on its own designs. Prior to MediaTek, Qualcomm Inc. also signed up as an Intel Foundry Services customer, and Nvidia Corp. is reported to be considering doing so too.

Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said it was interesting to see Intel working with Arm, as the two companies have long been seen as rivals. “I think it is a combination of customer demand, Intel’s weakness and Arm’s strength, but the partnership can certainly succeed,” he said. “The future will tell.”

When rivals work suddenly together, something is happening. I the case of Intel and ARM it is a combination of customer demand, Intel weakness ad Arm strength. Future will tell if this partnership will succeed.

Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger said that until now, most fabless chip designers have had limited options for designing around the Arm’s advanced mobile chip technology, which powers the vast majority of the world’s smartphones. “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,” Gelsinger said.

Photo: Intel

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