Intel Opens Up 10nm Fabs to ARM SoCs
Samuel Wan / 3 years ago
One of the big headline problems for Intel is the increasing cost of reaching new nodes. As we get ever closer to the limitations of silicon, it is taking longer and costing more to reach the next lower level. Combined with a slowing CPU market, the company embarked on their Custom Foundry business to make sure their fabs are being maximised. That meant manufacturing for third-party products and that list has now expanded to include ARM SoC mobile processors.
In the beginning, the only companies that could touch the fabs were basically non-competitors which dealt with separate markets. ARM SoCs were kept out due to Intel’s own plans to muscle in on the mobile market. With that plan dead, Intel is now willing to let their former competitors use their fabs. This gives companies an option other than having to go through TSMC and Samsung which currently dominate the foundry market.
For now, only designs using ARM’s Artisan Physical IP can be built on Intel’s 10nm fabs. This means we likely won’t be seeing any Qualcomm Snapdragons on 10nm just yet. One big name though is LG which is set to use the new foundry. LG has traditionally used Qualcomm processors but it appears the combined allure of ARM’s in-house Artisan Physical IP and Intel’s fab were enough to sway them. The move may also help drive down costs by introducing a bigger competitor to the market though Intel likely won’t be that cheap either.
With ARM SoCs making their way onto 10nm, it means that Cannon Lake, which is set for 10nm, can’t be too far away. Given the relative ease of ARM SoCs compared to full-fledged Intel CPUs, the arrival of the mobile chips will likely come first. With customers already on 10nm, it hopefully means we won’t be seeing any delays for the desktop products.