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Cisco rumoured to be in a foundry deal with Intel

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry? 40nm? 22nm FinFET?

There is talk that Intel's foundry operation has started or will start to make chips for Cisco. What is more the deal could be worth as much as $1 billion.

It did come couched as a "just a rumour" from one of the speakers at the International Electronics Forum held in Bratislava last week. But in addition analysts at investment bank Piper Jaffray have reportedly told clients in a note that Cisco could cut a foundry partnership deal with Intel worth $1 billion.

Known users of Intel foundry services include FPGA companies Achronix and Tabula and network processor company Netronome.

Most of Cisco's silicon right now is at the 40nm level with a number of 28nm chip designs in the pipeline. But Intel is known to have been offering its 22nm FinFET process as a foundry option for some time.

So it would be the right time for Cisco, which employs about 750 chip designers, to be working on IC designs intended for implementation at the next node. And it would seem that the step up to high-performance Intel silicon could make sense for a networking equipment and chip company that is likely to bring all its own intellectual property and IP cores to the design process.

And who was it that mentioned the possibility of a billion-dollar Intel foundry deal to the assembled executives at the IEF? It was non-other than John Lofton Holt, chairman and founder of Intel foundry user Achronix.

In the dim and distant past (2004) Cisco used IBM as a foundry supplier of its chips. But a billion dollars does make you stop and think. Even though it may be spread over several years a billion dollars is a significant amount of other foundries' lunch that Intel would be eating.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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