Today Intel and Arm announced a deal to build SoCs on Intel’s upcoming process node. Arm does not currently sell chips, despite the Arm Neoverse Ares development chip in the cover image. At the same time, it has a broad range of partners that sell chips based on its designs.
Intel IFS and Arm Announce SoC Manufacturing Deal
The deal is currently not for server chips and is instead focusing on mobile SoCs. Here is the official excerpt:
The collaboration will focus on mobile SoC designs first, but allow for potential design expansion into automotive, Internet of Things (IoT), data center, aerospace and government applications. Arm customers designing their next-generation mobile SoCs will benefit from leading-edge Intel 18A process technology… (Source: Intel)
Intel 18A is the process that delivers RibbonFET GAA (Gate All Around) and PowerVIa power delivery. Intel’s IFS (Intel Foundry Services) business is also looking to show itself as a neutral fab and an integrator of silicon IP tiles from different foundries and vendors.
For Arm, this deal expands options on where chips can be made. For Intel, this is a big win. It needs to show the industry that bringing manufacturing to IFS is safe since it will have its finished chip business potentially competing with some IFS customers. Arm is focused on areas where Intel has not had success and is coming after Intel’s traditional chip business. As such, Intel welcoming a competitor (but also a partner since Intel already sells Arm chips) into IFS shows that it is actively courting partners and customers.
As we move into the chiplet/ tile era of chip design, in theory, major players would want to have options beyond TSMC. Intel hopes to be that option. Bringing Arm onboard will likely be used as a tool to sell other Arm-based chip designers on IFS starting with mobile. While Arm may not be a huge customer itself, IFS getting Arm’s stamp of approval will help it attract customers and volume to the business.
“major players would want to have options beyond TSMC”
Someone is forgetting that Samsung exists. Samsung, TSMC, UMC and many more have these deals with ARM where you can get optimized cores for your SoC. Only TSMC and Samsung can deliver leading edge though. That’s going to change at some point with a third vendor.