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Intel Corp. has always stated that its leading-edge manufacturing technologies and ability to make chips in volume are among the main competitive advantages against other developers of processors. More recently, Intel claimed its manufacturing prowess as an ultimate advantage over the so-called ARM camp. Nonetheless, it looks like the chipmaker’s foundry unit is about to gain another client developing ARM-based solutions.

Back in October, 2013, Intel Custom Foundry, contract manufacturing business unit of the world’s largest chipmaker, and Altera signed a deal under which Intel would produce Altera Stratix 10 system-on-chips that feature both field-programmable gate array (FPGA) as well as four ARM Cortex-A53 general-purpose cores using 14nm tri-gate manufacturing technology. The Stratix 10 SoCs are designed for high-end networking and communications infrastructure, hence, they do not necessarily compete against Intel’s own solutions. Nonetheless, these chips improve competitive positions of ARM architecture in general.

Given the nature of Intel Custom Foundry division, Intel is interested in landing orders from large customers from a number of industries so to avoid conflict of interests. According to Citigroup’s chip analyst Glen Yeung, Intel is negotiating with Marvell Technology Group over a foundry deal.

“We believe that Intel is gaining customer traction in their foundry business, consistent with the company’s recent commentary to open their foundry services to additional customers. We believe Marvell is a potential good fit for Intel in integrated baseband/application processors. Our sense is that performance gains using Intel’s 22nm [tri-gate] process would be substantial for Marvell, providing the catalyst for this relationship,” wrote Mr. Yeung in a note for clients, without elaborating, reports Tech Trader Daily.

Intel Fab 24 in Leixlip, Ireland

Marvell Technology develops a broad line of chips that includes application processors, communication processors, broadband solutions, embedded processors, various controllers and so on. Almost all products by Marvell can benefit from Intel’s advanced manufacturing technologies. Many of Marvell’s chips are either based on ARM cores, or are compatible with ARM’s instruction sets. But the volumes of Marvell’s products potentially represent significant revenue streams for Intel.

“Producing baseband/AP chips for Marvell indeed implies that Intel will be fabricating ARM solutions on their 22nm process. This underscores the approach of Intel’s new management to be agnostic to logic cores in their foundry business. To be sure, Intel will still offer the use of x86 cores to appropriate foundry customers. Nonetheless, we are encouraged that Intel recognizes the revenue potential from producing ARM chips on a foundry basis rather than stubbornly restricting themselves to x86,” wrote the analyst.

One thing that should be noted is that many of Intel’s high-volume fabs can produce chips using both 22nm and 14nm process technologies. Therefore, in case Intel and Marvell sign a contract, it could include both manufacturing processes.

It is noteworthy that Intel and Marvell application processors are competing on the market. Since Intel is not interested in supporting rivals, the information regarding potential contract between the two companies should be taken with a grain of salt.

It is ironic that many of Marvell’s application processors (which are quite popular among consumer electronics makers) have evolved from Intel’s own ARM-compatible Xscale chips. Back in 2006 Intel sold its Xscale division to Marvell as it wanted to concentrate solely on x86. Now, if the information is correct, Intel will produce successors of its own designs.

Intel and Marvell Technology did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Intel, Marvell, ARM, 14nm, 22nm, Semiconductor, Intel Custom Foundry


Comments currently: 7
Discussion started: 01/16/14 04:48:43 PM
Latest comment: 03/09/16 12:29:10 AM
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"It is noteworthy that Intel and Marvell application processors are competing on the market. Since Intel is not interested in supporting rivals, the information regarding potential contract between the two companies should be taken with a grain of salt."

Intel manufactured ARM chips for Marvell well into 2008, and has used them for SSDs more recently.
1 0 [Posted by: basroil  | Date: 01/16/14 04:48:43 PM]

What an easy way to learn about the oppositions tech than to make it on contract, Don't steal anything just reverse engineer the rival's product and alter it slightly so as not to have a patent spat. A very cheap and crude way of getting their design.
2 2 [Posted by: tedstoy  | Date: 01/16/14 07:44:37 PM]
- collapse thread

Really bright deduction skills there, Holmes, but those Marvell controllers are based on XScale technology that Marvell bought from Intel, Xcale was an Intel implementation of the ARM architecture (version 5) that Intel sold to Marvell! I think that Intel could much easier relicense an ARM holdings design and would not need any Marvell tech.! Intel would have a problem selling controller chips for as low a cost or as low a profit margin as Marvell, or any of the other Arm based controller supplier! Now Apples A7 Cyclone custom 64 bit ARMv8 CPU cores, even ARM Holdings themselves, would like to look at Apples secret sause, beacuse the A7 custom design beat even ARM holdings' own ARMv8 CPU refrence designs to market, and the Apple A7 is more powerfull!

"Marvell buys Intel's handheld processor unit for $600 million." EETimes, 6/27/2006 02:00 PM EDT.

ARM NOTES: ARM Holdings does not manufacture any of its ARM designs, it makes its money by licensing its ARM chip designs to ALL, including licensing Just its ARM ISA(instruction set architecture) and letting the likes of Apple (Cyclone, A7), and Nvidia(Denver, K1 dual core) tape out their own ARM 64 bit clones! Please read Anand's multipart reveiw of the ARM Holdings' licensed IP business Model!

1 0 [Posted by: BigChiefRunAmok  | Date: 01/16/14 09:08:38 PM]
Intel would do better to fab and reverse engineer AMD APUs, such is their potential business threat.
2 0 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 01/17/14 01:03:28 AM]
Way TOO many folks poping the lids off of the can, and using electron microscopes, for Intel, or anyone, to able to get away with reverse engineering, and copying AMD's, or Apple's, etc. special sauce(exact circuit layouts and functions), oh the lawsuits! Better Intel join the HSA foundation, and make some HSA aware hardware of its own! The companies, educational instutions, and government labs that have signed on with the HSA foundation is quite impressive, and the HSA ecosystem's promise of the full utilization of any and all the computing resources, on any computing, GPU/CPU/other, based platforms, for any and all types of computing workloads, is just to good for the computing world to pass up! Better Intel, and Nvidia join up and have their say in the process, than to remain on the sidelines and have the industry pass them by! In the future Intel may have to forgo controlling the x86 ISA, and instead move towrds an ARM Holdings' style licensed IP business model, as the ecosystem and market caps of all the ARM ecosystem partner companies together, dwarfs even Intel's chipzella sized resources.

Side Note: To all those 'terfers, on many tech website blogs, please refrain from speciously comparing just ARM Holdings' market cap against Intel's market cap, while purposefully, not including the total market caps, and R&D budgets, of all the combined industry partners that utilize the ARM holdings licensed IP for their products! Companies like Apple(A7, cyclone, ARM ISA based phones/tablets) and Nvidia (Tegra K1, tablets, portable gaming platforms, ARM based)
Just to name a few big market caps players. So in the future please try to make a proper comparison between Intel and the True nature of the ARM ecosystem competition's corporate resources, in the mobile and quickly moving towards the Laptop market via Apple's Future A8s and Nvidia's Tegra K1(denver) ARM ISA based
processing platforms!
0 0 [Posted by: BigChiefRunAmok  | Date: 01/17/14 11:56:56 AM]

The white flag is up. Fab utilisation is down to 80% and declining further. And now No. 42 with blackbean sauce has been mothballed as well.
1 0 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 01/17/14 01:02:20 AM]


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