Intel will allow ARM chipmakers to use its 10nm manufacturing process

Intel logoIntel will be opening up its newest chip factories to companies making ARM mobile processors, according to joint press releases from both Intel and ARM. Companies designing chips based on ARM's Artisan Physical IP will be able to manufacture them on Intel's upcoming 10nm FinFET process, giving those chip companies an option aside from the currently dominant Samsung and TSMC. It sounds like ARM licensees who use ARM's off-the-shelf technology will be able to use Intel's fabs to create chips but that licensees like Qualcomm who use a lot of their own custom CPUs and GPUs won't be able to.

"The initial POP IP will be for two future advanced ARM Cortex-A processor cores designed for mobile computing applications in either ARM big.LITTLE™ or stand-alone configurations," according to ARM's press release. Intel's release says that LG will be using the process to "produce a world-class mobile platform based on Intel Custom Foundry's 10nm design platform."

Intel will allow ARM chipmakers to use its 10nm manufacturing process

The Intel Custom Foundry business has slowly been expanding since Intel first offered 22nm capacity to Achronix back in 2010, though its list of customers is still fairly small. Initially, Intel mostly offered capacity to chip companies that didn't compete with Intel in any significant markets, and in at least one case, Intel has actually purchased a company it was doing business with. But Intel dramatically scaled back its smartphone SoC plans a few months ago after years of poor sales and few design wins, so letting ARM SoC makers use Intel's factories could now be Intel's best option for making money in the mobile SoC business. The company is also continuing to work on its modems, one of which is rumored to be included in the next-generation iPhones.

Chips based on Intel's 10nm process are expected at some point in 2017. The upcoming seventh-generation Core CPUs, codenamed "Kaby Lake," will be based on the current 14nm architecture, just like Broadwell and Skylake before them.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: 10 nm, ARM, CPUs, Intel

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