Intel and Arm have announced an agreement to optimize Intel’s manufacturing processes for Arm’s IP, starting with Intel’s upcoming 18A (1.8nm) node. The collaboration will focus on mobile SoCs first but allows for extension into automotive, Internet of Things (IoT), data center, aerospace and government applications. The move aims to “expand the market opportunity” for Intel Foundry Services (IFS), CEO Pat Gelsinger says.
After a half-hearted attempt in the past, Intel announced in 2021 that it would open up its fabs for external customers. Some analysts even anticipate that it will eventually follow AMD’s example and spin off its manufacturing arm. Much of the foundry’s success will depend on the processor behemoth catching up to Samsung and TSMC, having forfeited a technological lead over the past decade.
Another necessary ingredient for survival is customers. With so much leading-edge silicon being Arm-based these days, Intel needs to cater to Arm licensees. Through design technology co-optimization (DTCO) and system technology co-optimization (STCO), Arm and IFS clients will be able to maximize the performance and density of their designs. Intel also has several proprietary technologies on offer at the 18A node, including back-side power delivery, the RibbonFET gate-all-around transistor architecture and advanced packaging options.
“This collaboration will enable a more balanced global supply chain for foundry customers working in mobile SoC design on Arm-based CPU cores. By unlocking Arm’s leading-edge compute portfolio and world-class IP on Intel process technology, Arm partners will be able to take full advantage of Intel’s open system foundry model,” a press release reads.