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back to article Intel switches ARM stance from 'No' to 'Maybe'

Ten days ago, Intel CEO Paul Otellini told US investors that Chipzilla wouldn't use its new 22nm Tri-Gate process technology to build chips based on an ARM core. At a UK investors confab this Thursday, CFO Stacey Smith hedged on Otellini's emphatic "No". If a customer came to Intel and asked them to fab processors that weren't …

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Alien

Infineon

Through its Infineon acquisition Intel will be making its own ARM-based mobile phone SoCs using its new "tri-gate" process before you know it.

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Why?

Doing fabrication and letting apple pay the license fees is much more profitable!

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WTF?

nothing to do with crAppl€

What on earth are you taking about? Intel ALREADY pay the miniscule license fees and royalties on ieach of its mobile SoCs to ARM as part of its Infineon acquisition. You think it's going to be profitiable for Intel to keep its production with whoever Infineon were using before instead of moving to its own Intel fab for mobile SoCs? Mobile phones are going to be ARM well into the forseeable future, and Intel are going to be selling ARM SoCs well into the future.

Apple are also a MINISCULE player in the chip industry, so I don't see why the media keep over-hyping them as being significant in any way.

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Thumb Up

So I guess...

It's about how much someone is willing to pay Intel, not about why they are paying. Good. Let the 22nm ARMs race begin!

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Windows

Chipzilla prevents small device evolution?

Ballmer speak?

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so it'd lower the overall profits

Unquote

Maybe something along lines of "If our customers want it, we can do it" would be better?

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Where have you been?

Nobody cares about the customer these days. It's all about maximising profit at nearly any cost - just look at the antics of the petrol industry for a blatant example...

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Happy

Second thoughts

If Intel gets the money for fabbing the parts, that money helps pay for building and operating the plants and processes Intel needs to make to keep driving their innovation faster than their competitors. If Intel's competitors fab the parts, that money goes to building plants and processes that compete with Intel.

The choice is pretty clear.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes...

And this is a worry.

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re: Second thoughts

if Intel builds ARM chips they are fueling the competition to x86 and x86 is where most all their profits come from. It's the same reason Microsoft supports next to no software on anything but Windows. And if Intel refuses to build ARM on 22nm then were else is that vendor to go for 22nm? Nowhere because Intel is almost always first with the smaller chips and it is their one big advantage.

The CEO was correct, Intel will never build ARM and the other guy was just putting some frosting on it so it doesn't taste/look so bad. they may discuss it but the discussion would be very short and consist of one word, "no". But they can spin it as discussing it.

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Or..

Intel is not making design wins over ARM parts. It is the other way around.

Soon Intel will realise that getting a small slice of something is better than getting a huge slice of nothing.

Intel will change their tune. Perhaps not this quarter, but it will happen soon enough.

"And if Intel refuses to build ARM on 22nm then were else is that vendor to go for 22nm?" So what. Intel needs to be cutting edge on process to stay in the power game. ARM one step behind still outperforms Intel.

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Stop

you're thinking only in terms of PCs

True for the PC market, but in the mobile phone SoC market ARM is the only game in town and no Intel architecture will succeed there in the near future.

Intel ALREADY make ARM SoCs through there acquisition of Infineon's mobile SoC business earlier this year (X-GOLD, S-GOLD series etc.)

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Holmes

"Much more in-depth discussion and analysis"

Expensive female accompangnment and a nice trip on large boat, mylord?

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simples...

I think this is probably a pretty good summary of Intels position on producing ARM chips:

Are you planning on letting anyone borrow your house for a few days? short answer "no"

What if I offered you £1,000,000,000? well I, umm, well I may be able to think about that and give your offer some consideration...

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Apple's not so small.

"Apple are also a MINISCULE player in the chip industry, so I don't see why the media keep over-hyping them as being significant in any way."

Apple next year will be over 100M units across ipad, iphone, ipod and appletv, and that's not basic 10c Armv6 cores, it's rather large quad core chips with big graphics units.

And just quietly, every Android handset maker in town is going to want an identical or faster chip for their product. If you have a 2x power advantage and a 2x performance advantage in your fabs you can charge whatever you want for that chip. And why not bundle some flash in with the deal.

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Anonymous Coward

Arm on the mainboard

My most recent desktop (HP z-something, nippy with 6 cores, 12 GB ram), came with an ARM chip on it. I presume it's for the integrated lights out stuff -you can hook up a 100 mbit/s management backplane to one of the ethernet ports, while the other runs at 1 GBps -I just find it funny that there's an ARM core there to handle ACPI and management issues with the big cpu. I guess it's like the electric starter motor of a car -something low power to start the barge up

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Holmes

not so uncommon

I'd hazard a guess that most PCs these days have more than one ARM cores in them. e.g. in the Wi-fi, bluetooth, touchpad controller, hard drive controllers etc. erc.

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Two things come to mind..

1) Sony needs to sort out the PS4 hardware around now, sounds like a likely choice.

2) Could be an exit strategy for NVidia, the discrete graphics market won't sustain them forever, this way they can stick their GPU on the same silicon as a top class CPU without having to try to work out how to build a CPU itself and all the license wrangling involved.

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Intel won't fab any non-IA chips in 2012

This is simple. Intel is putting $9 billion into accelerated fab manufacturing tis year. They need excess 22nm fab capacity in 2012 so that they can exit the year with Atom at 22nm, a node where they might win significant business. Besides Atom, 2012 brings new Ivy Bridge versions of Core and Xeon. There's no room for Apple's 75 - 100 million chip volume in that mix.

It is foolhardy to think Intel needs the manufacturing revenue to help arch-rival Apple on 22nm in 2012.

Now 2013, that might be a different story.

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Intel could easily manufacture ARM for Apple

Apple can pay the sort of prices Intel wants. The products won't appear on the open market to compete with Atom. Intel will be better prepared when the wheels completely fall off the X86 Windows duopoly (Windows 8 will also be on ARM, they say). Apple will prepay enough billions to make it a no-brainer for Intel.

A deal will take a year or two to work through. It may already have been done. Apple won't prepay just yet, to avoid showing their hand.

Remember, Steve Jobs has always hated suppliers that go into competition with him (Samsung, Rodime). And deep down, Intel hates X86 and has tried repeatedly to replace it.

Makes sense to me.

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People underestimate relationship between Cie's

Apple is a valued client for Intel. They bring their own processor expertise as stated many times by Intel's CEO and designers. Apple's Intel-based CPU sales continue to rise rapidly (Macs) and Apple also has tons of units being sold as AppleTV's, iPods, iPads, iPhones on CPUs which could be Intel CPUs. Why would Intel wish to let that slip away. They can now forge a new relationship with ARM chips and Flash memory which would only encourage other Manufacturers to follow... why? Because everyone is stuck using chips from firms which often compete with them. Do you think Dell and HP would prefer doing business with Asian manufacturers when then can claim their new Phones and Tablets use "made in the USA" parts? This could become something very big for Intel by promoting the fact that they can supply key components while remaining neutral in terms of competition to it's clients.

Now if Intel could start making LED screens....

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Anonymous Coward

Politics

So the CEO speaking in the US to a larglely US audience say No emphatically. The CFO on a jaunt in the country which is home to a potential competitor and some significant investment fundssays "never say never" . I'll go with the CEO's version.

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Count-down on Smith,,,

I'd say Mr "UK" Smith just doesn't "get" his US boss' message and is looking at either a rapid horizontal ejection or a straight kick in the pants.

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Meh

"in-depth discussion and analysis"

Is the rubber hose optional?

I'm still waiting for my ARM server btw.

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Holmes

The way in for Intel?

Intel has repeatedly tried to break into the low-watt / mobile market, so far to little avail. However where fabrication is concerned they have no peers – in fact it could be said that x86 has lasted this long solely for their ability to flawlessly implement even passable designs. That's certainly a skill an established mobile player could put to good use.

Could this become an escape route for Intel? Instead of dominating the mobile market directly by shoehorning x86 into a small power envelope, they could channel their engineering might into someone else's (presumably more mobile-friendly) ISA and architecture, getting a healthy cut in the deal.

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Happy

Both statements *completely* compatible.

Intel won't make ARM's as *commodity* parts you can buy off the shelf. You want an Intel processor it comes with an x86 an no "extra" cost (the cost will already be substantial).

Intel will look at fabbing *any* chip design in any process they support for a sufficiently *big* order (in units and cash).

*Some* of those designs will incorporate ARM.

Just like *any* other major chip maker.

Note that it does not *guarantee* they will *do* anything about it, and (rather like the US Govt on defense sales) might require a no re-sale clause. They make it for the customers exclusive *use* not as a product.

*Nothing* is more important to Intel than the x86 instruction set running on Intel silicon.

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