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Intel, TSMC confirm SOC partnership

Soc-ing it to ARM
Mon Mar 02 2009, 20:12

AS WE PREDICTED this morning, Intel will get TSMC to put its Atom into a System-on-Chip (SoC) ready for use in smartphones and MIDs.

The firms signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering everything from the technology platform, intellectual property (IP) infrastructure, and SoC itself.

Chipzilla's CEO, Paul Otellini, was clearly ecstatic his firm would be expanding its Atom SoC availability and gushed, "the combination of the compelling benefits of our Atom processor combined with the experience and technology of TSMC is another step in our long-term strategic relationship."

Otellini's counterpart at TSMC, Dr. Rick Tsai, shared the Intel chief's exuberance, noting the firms expected the collaboration would, "help proliferate the Atom processor SoC and foster overall semiconductor growth".

TSMC makes smartphone innards for the likes of Qualcomm, so it would appear Intel is stoking the flames of competition and readying itself for a tug of war with British chip firm, ARM, whose low powered chips have had Intel turning green with envy of late.

"This is a direct attack on competing processors, especially the ARM processor", confirmed analyst Jack Gold, noting the little British chip outfit was punching well above its weight by trying to scale up from phones to embedded gadgets, whilst Intel was trying to scale down power and compete in the lucrative phone space.

Gold reckons the battleground  will be "aggressive and potentially bloody, with huge potential returns".

Intel's deal with TSMC is likely to spawn a plethora of low-powered MIDs, smartphones, netbooks, and nettops for Intel to flog while TSMC will be able to fiddle around with Atom and build its own customised versions of a processor it didn't have to design itself.

On top of that, TSMC will probably be able to couple its work on Wimax enabled devices with its new work on Atom processors.

It'swell known Intel isn't particularly good at custom designing for volume customers, so teaming up with TSMC, a firm which specialises in doing so, is a sharp move and one which should allow Chipzilla to shift a large amount of embedded chips whilst reaping licencing fees to boot. µ

See Also
Intel turns to TSMC for help



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