INTEL MAY HAVE KILLED its New Devices group, but it's still not beyond the odd smart acquisition, as seen with its purchase of NetSpeed Systems.
The chipmaker bought the California-based company for an undisclosed amount with the goal of using NetSpeed to help improve its tools for chip designs, namely SoCs of which the company is a specialist in.
NetSpeed's engineers will be sucked up into Intel's Silicon Engineering Group, but its former CEO, Sundari Mitra, will become a vice president at Intel meaning NetSpeed should have some scope to make its presence felt in Intel's corporate mass.
"Intel is designing more products with more specialised features than ever before, which is incredibly exciting for Intel architects and for our customers," said Jim Keller, senior vice president and general manager of the Silicon Engineering Group at Intel.
"The challenge is synthesizing a broader set of IP blocks for optimal performance while reining in design time and cost. NetSpeed's proven network-on-chip technology addresses this challenge, and we're excited to now have their IP and expertise in-house."
SoCs are important areas for chipmakers given they provide the central nervous system of pretty much any smart devices. And with things like Microsoft's Always-Connected PC initiative, which runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs, there's more scope for such all-in-one chips to play a role in the world of computing that has thus far been dominated by CPU and motherboard combinations.
While Intel offers decent processors with integrated graphics for laptop use, it hasn't really been a big player in the SoC world. As such, the acquisition of NetSpeed could go some way to change that, or at least give Intel more scope to push chipsets into arenas where the likes of Nvidia and Qualcomm hold say.
We'd hazard a guess and say the next couple of waves of smartphones aren't likely to come sporting Intel SoCs. But there's a chance future smart home gadgets and Internet of Things devices that harvest data and try and put artificial intelligence to use on the edge of networks, rather than rely on a cloud or central system connection, could make use of future Intel SoCs.
And low-powered PCs and small all-in-one devices could also make use of such chipsets, particularly if they can tap into some of Intel's powerful Core CPU tech. As ever, watch this space. µ
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