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Intel sets sights on a foundry goal for innovation

Posted: 14 May 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? foundry? PC?

In March, Intel and Altera expanded their deal. Intel said in a press release: "Altera's work with Intel will enable the development of multi-die devices that efficiently integrate monolithic 14nm Stratix 10 FPGAs"which include ARM cores"and SoCs with other advanced components, which may include DRAM, SRAM, ASICs, processors"additional processors, presumably"and analogue components, in a single package."

Though the announcement stressed Intel's assembly and packaging capabilities, I wonder who is supplying those added processors and, for that matter, where the DRAM, SRAM, ASICs, and analogue components are coming from.

The Stratix 10 FPGAs are aimed at high-end applications in communications, computing, broadcast, and military markets. Though the press release didn't elaborate, an Altera whitepaper published last summer explains that these FPGAs are aimed at next-generation infrastructure, including datacenters (which need servers with low energy consumption and footprint but high processing power), wired networks (which are going to 100Gb Ethernet), optical networks, and base stations that serve mobile devices (which are moving to LTE). "Customisation and flexibility at the hardware level," i.e. FPGAs combined with SOCs, can address power consumption and other problems OEM face in these areas, the paper said.

"Together, both companies are building off one another's expertise with the primary focus on building industry-disrupting products," Sunit Rikhi, vice president and general manager of Intel Custom Foundry, said in the March release.

This foundry deal is about more than just manufacturing work to fill Intel's fabs. It will be interesting to see where it leads Intel in the coming years and how or whether it can replace that declining PC revenue in time.

- Tam Harbert

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