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Analysts bet on Intel foundry move

Posted: 09 Nov 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? foundry? FPGA?

Intel Corp. announced a strategic agreement with Achronix Semiconductor Corp. wherein Intel will manufacture FPGAs for the programmable logic startup at the 22nm node and beyond.

Achronix executives said that the deal would help them bring 22nm FPGAs to market faster than PL market leaders Xilinx Inc. and Altera Corp., and also give the startup a leg up in 15nm and future technology nodes.

Intel has dabbled in the foundry and ASIC markets for many years. However, it exited the ASIC business some years ago and has never been thought of as a foundry player.

Now, it seems that Intel may be interested in entering the foundry business. Reports say that the company has hired a vice president in charge of foundry. Also, companies are approaching Intel about access to its fabs, with rumors running rampant that SiliconBlue has also approached Intel. It may be that Achronix is a pilot test and the start of something big.

Analysts are wondering if Intel become a foundry player or not? Here are some opinions from around the industry:

Peter Clarke, European news director at EE Times, said: "I think Intel will get involved in the foundry market. I think the days of the self-sufficient IDM are over. If you are a chipmaker, you need volumeand there are plenty of fabless companies out there who will buy a piece of your manufacturing output. We see that Samsung has thrown its hat in the ring, and now Intel is dipping its toe. Intel of course will never be a pure-play foundry like TSMC, but it will be a chipmaker that does foundry work like IBM, Samsung and others. TSMC will remain the leading pure-play foundry, but Intel can throw a wrench in the works by doing leading-edge processes for companies it see as strategic partners."

Dean Freeman, an analyst with Gartner Inc., said: "Will Intel become a big foundry player? On the wireless or (FPGA) side, they have the potential of being a foundry player. Does Intel have the capital and manufacturing to be in the foundry business? Yes. But the question is can they compete at the same cost as TSMC, UMC and GlobalFoundries."

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