Intel To Manufacture ARM-Based Smartphone Chips In Bid To Overthrow TSMC, Samsung

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If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Intel was an ARM license holder back in the early days of the personal digital assistant (PDA), and found its StrongARM and XScale chips in devices like the HP Compaq iPaq 5450 and other products of that ilk. But Intel jettisoned its ARM division in 2006 to focus on x86 processors, only to see a huge surge in ARM processor deployments with the rise of smartphones a few short years later.

Intel tried to counter with its own low-powered, x86-based smartphones SoCs, but its efforts proved futile. Now, Intel is deciding to wade back in to the ARM waters as an ARM licensee. The chip giant will not design and market its own ARM-based designs, but it will offer its mammoth custom foundry business to produce ARM processors for other companies.


This move will put Intel in contention to steal away contracts from ARM industry stalwarts like Samsung, Global Foundries and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC). Intel Custom Foundry will even make its upcoming 10 nanometer process technology available to customers looking to produce ARM processors using ARM’s Artisan Physical IP.

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“Our 10 nm technology will provide improvements in transistor scaling and offer new performance, power and cost benefits as well as a wide range of device features to meet different product requirements,” writes Zane Ball, Intel Technology and Manufacturing Group VP and co-GM of the Intel Custom Foundry. “Having leading IP providers in our portfolio will accelerate ecosystem readiness while providing greater flexibility and time-to-market advantages to our customers.”

Speaking of customers, Intel has already lined up LG Electronics, Spreadstrum, Achronix Semiconductor, Netronome and Altera. Of those customers, LG will be the first to tap into Intel’s 10nm goldmine.