Hardware

Intel to manufacture ARM processors in a bet on IoT and premium smartphones

In a new partnership, ARM and Intel Custom Foundry will work together building SoCs using Intel's 10nm process.

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The Intel Custom Foundry.

Image: Intel

As a result of a new partnership between ARM and Intel Custom Foundry, Intel will begin producing chips based on ARM's physical intellectual property. The collaboration could boost Intel's prowess in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, and potentially gain them a larger audience with mobile OEMs.

The announcement was made Tuesday at the 2016 Intel Developer Forum, hosted in San Francisco. For those who may seem surprised at the partnership, a blog post by ARM's Will Abbey said that it is nothing new.

"Despite press stories, Intel and ARM have worked together for years to help enable the ecosystem, and this is just the latest milestone in that long-standing relationship," Abbey wrote.

In the post, Abbey noted three specific benefits to the SoC (system on a chip) partnership:

  1. "The benefits to our partners by expanding the ARM ecosystem to offer more manufacturing choices for premium mobile and consumer SoCs."
  2. "Intel Custom Foundry will give its customers access to world-class physical IP and ARM implementation solutions."
  3. "All the major foundries now offer Artisan platforms, further confirming it as the industry standard for physical IP."

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Partnering with ARM is merely the latest step on Intel's road to restructure more strongly around IoT and the data center. ARM, which stands for Advanced RISC Machines, is Britain's largest technology firm and its chips are in most smartphones in the market today. However, ARM was recently acquired by Softbank for £24.3 billion specifically for its IoT expertise. By partnering with ARM, Intel could strongly improve its offerings in IoT, and broaden its customer base.

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In a separate blog post by Zane Ball, the co-general manager of Intel Custom Foundry, he explained that the ARM Artisan platform includes "high performance and high density logic libraries, memory compilers, and POP IP (for future ARM premium mobile cores)."

In addition to strengthening its offerings in IoT, the ARM partnership could get Intel closer to a very important ARM customer—Apple. As noted by ZDNet's Larry Dignan, Apple "could use Intel to diversify its supply chain." In fact, some reports even predict that the upcoming iPhone model will use Intel chips.

Either way, the ARM partnership is good news for Intel's foundry business, as it gives their customers more options in terms of increasing options in chip design.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. ARM and Intel Custom Foundry are partnering to build SoCs (system on a chip) using the 10nm process.
  2. The partnership will see Intel utilizing the ARM Artisan platform, which could improve the company's offerings in the connected devices and IoT space.
  3. This collaboration could also mean Intel getting closer to producing key chips for Apple's iPhone, as Apple is a long-time ARM customer.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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