Intel won't design ARM chips but they might be eyeing the manufacturing side
Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2011 - 09:09 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, arm
Paul Otellini, the current CEO of Intel, has gone on record stating that Intel has little interest in fabbing non-Intel based chips on its manufacturing line. That makes a lot of sense for those who watch the back end of the CPU business but it doesn't seem logical to those who don't. The reasoning is based on licensing and the habit of the technology industry to use Intellectual Property licensing agreements and lawyers the same way Jason uses his machete. If Intel starts fabbing their own ARM chips with none of their own IP inside, then it leaves an opening later on for ARM to go after Intel if any of their new products seem derivative of ARM's IP. It also makes an entire production line at Intel dependant on ARM sales.
So, why did Intel's CFO Stacey Smith not repeat that same emphatic denial when asked a similar question? In her case she was asked if they would fab Apple-designed ARM-based A5 CPUs with Intel's 22nm IP inside. Suddenly Intel only has to design the core of the chip and does not have to license any of ARM's IP as they are only providing the production line. As well, Intel would be licensing their own IP to Apple which brings them money and can the IP license can function as a hostage down the road; think the court case involving NVIDIA's ability to design chipsets for Intel chips with integrated memory controllers. Get more at The Register.
"Parsing the statements of both Intel execs, however, reveals that their statements are not, in fact, as contradictory as they may at first seem. Otellini stated that "We have no intention to use our license again to build ARM," while Smith spoke only of fabbing someone else's custom design – and if that design included an ARM core, the third party would pay the licensing fee."
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