Intel Corp., the world’s largest producer of central processing units, on Tuesday clarified a situation whether third-party fabless semiconductor developers, such as Nvidia Corp., could license Intel Atom core to build their system-on-chips (SoCs) after Intel signed pact with TSMC. Apparently, only developers of actual devices may license Atom cores for their products.
Earlier this month Intel signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) port its Atom processor CPU cores to the TSMC technology platform including processes, IP, libraries, and design flows. The collaboration is intended to expand Intel’s Atom SoCs availability for Intel customers for a wider range of applications through integration with TSMC’s diverse IP infrastructure.
“Intel customers will have access to certain Atom cores. Intel will own all relationships with customers. Intel customers will have access to both Intel’s and TSMC's technology platforms for the design and manufacturing of Atom-based SoCs. Customers interested in the TSMC technology platform will also work through Intel, but will still continue to leverage TSMC’s infrastructure they are familiar with, e.g., design tools, simulation, etc,” said Megan Langer, an Intel spokesperson.
But not everyone will be able to create Intel Atom-based SoC. For example, if a company is a fabless developer of chips that it sells to third parties for their devices, such a company will not be able to make an Atom-powered SoC. Hence, for example, Nvidia Corp. will not be able to develop x86 SoC with Atom inside, but a firm producing its own devices could well benefit from the pact between TSMC and Intel.
“OEM consumer electronics manufacturers, embedded devices manufacturers will [be able to] come to Intel. Nvidia and other semi manufacturers are not customers [for this case], this is not intended to enable 3rd parties [to build Atom SoCs that might compete against Intel – X-bit labs] and will not do so,” Ms. Langer added.