Case Study

Intel Cuts a Deal with ARM

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 02, 2016

ARM technology has cemented its position in the smartphone market. It’s become so popular, in fact, that none other than Intel (News - Alert) Corp. is licensing technology from ARM Holdings Plc.

“The booming smartphone market is almost exclusively based on microprocessor technology from tiny ARM, a British chip design company with no manufacturing capability and a market cap that, for most of the pre-iPhone (News - Alert) era, was smaller than Intel’s advertising budget,” Jon Stokes wrote in a May 2016 piece for TechCrunch.

A new deal between ARM (News - Alert) and Intel, which was announced at the Intel Developer Forum in August in San Francisco, will enable Intel to manufacture ARM chips for third-party semiconductor companies at the Intel Custom Foundry. The 10 nm design platform at Foundry will provide access to ARM Artisan physical IP, including POP IP, based on ARM cores and Cortex series processors.

“Optimizing this technology for Intel’s 10 nm process means that Foundry customers can take advantage of the IP to achieve best-in-class PPA (power, performance, area) for power-efficient, high-performance implementations of their designs for mobile, IoT and other consumer applications,” Zane Bell, vice president in the technology and manufacturing group and co-general manager of Intel Custom Foundry, wrote in an Aug. 16 Intel blog, in which he noted that the ARM Artisan platform includes high-performance and high-density logic libraries, memory compilers, and POP IP (for future ARM premium mobile cores).

While Intel retains its position as the world’s largest semiconductor company, the company faces a PC market that’s in decline and has not seen much success in the smartphone market, which is where the growth is. In fact, the company recently laid off 12,000 of its employees.

This deal with ARM could better position Intel to play a bigger role in the smartphone space and assert a position in the growing Internet of Things world. A Bloomberg (News - Alert) Technology article by Ian King earlier this week suggested the deal with ARM could help Intel win chip fabrication business from such mobile industry giants as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc., which today rely on Taiwan Semiconductor (News - Alert) Manufacturing Co. and others for such work.

Edited by Alicia Young