Intel, TSMC partner up on Atom SoC production

Well, Intel isn’t buying TSMC, nor is it asking the foundry to produce Larrabee discrete graphics processors. Rather, Intel plans to port the Atom processor core to TSMC’s bulk silicon manufacturing process, a move Intel expects to “significantly broaden the market opportunities for its Intel Atom SoCs,” or system-on-a-chip devices.

Doesn’t Intel already have enough manufacturing capacity for teeny Atom chips? Perhaps, but as Intel’s press release also notes, “The collaboration is intended to expand Intel’s Atom SoCs availability for Intel customers for a wider range of applications through integration with TSMC’s diverse IP infrastructure.” That means Intel could allow customers to license and tweak Atom SoCs for their own use.  That would explain why the partnership is meant to “accelerate deployment of the [Atom] architecture through multiple SoC implementations.”

Since Intel is talking about SoCs, one would assume the partnership with TSMC will focus on Lincroft. Part of the upcoming Moorestown platform, Lincroft will house a microprocessor, graphics processor, and memory controller on a single die. Moorestown-based devices should be out by next year.

Intel says TSMC-built Atom chips may “find adoption” in smart phones and netbooks, nettops, consumer electronics devices, and mobile Internet devices. Intel announced last month that LG will be one of the first companies to introduce a Moorestown-based handset.

Comments closed
    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Interesting analysis over at Beyond3D:
    §[< http://www.beyond3d.com/content/news/722<]§

    • wingless
    • 11 years ago

    Via Nano+Nvidia Ion > Intel SoC

    When the Nano dual-core hits in Q4 it’s over for Atom. The power differences just aren’t that big of a deal.

      • Farting Bob
      • 11 years ago

      And when the next Atom comes along with much better performance for the nettop/higher end netbooks and a much better chipset Via will once again be behind.

      • willyolio
      • 11 years ago

      but brand name and production capacity/availability DO matter. intel will still win.

      • kccboy2004
      • 11 years ago

      #12, I am afraid that you are being too simplistic. The Intel Atom is a pioneer in its field; we are all grateful to Intel for rushing this product to the market on the 945 platform.

      We are also very well aware now of the Road Map that Intel is laying out for its “miniature, low powered chipsets”. I fear that for companies like Via, the end of the road is in sight,

      Sad, but true.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        You’ve got a point, It is kind of sad but true that Intel’s industry muscle is behind the sudden netbook craze. Via certainly had products that could have created the niche much earlier, even if they performed worse it was in proportion to Atom vs current CPUs, but Via chose to keep SFF an expensive niche product. Just witness the price drops in mini-ITX and smaller systems, Via’s used to be very high-priced.

      • pogsnet
      • 11 years ago
        • AMDisDEC
        • 11 years ago

        Intel is one of the fairest competitors around. They are not at all unfair like AT&T or Microsoft.

    • dragmor
    • 11 years ago

    So we are going to get a worse ATOM chip, either less clock speed or higher TDP. There is no way TSMC’s leaky 45nm bulk process can match Intels HKMG 45nm process.

    Depending on Intel’s requested volume this will likely raise the costs of AMD and Nvidias GPU’s.

      • Farting Bob
      • 11 years ago

      i doubt this will effect ATI/Nvidia, im sure they have long contracts that guarentee them a certain number of chips, TSMC wouldnt risk cutting those 2 off to help out intel.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      TSMC has excess capacity at the moment. Down the road, if the world economy ever picks up again, it could be a problem — but as bob says, that’s what contracts are for. If there’s a lot of demand for Moorestown Intel will probably be fabbing the top-of-the-line ones anyway: there’s nothing here that says Intel is going to /[

    • ludi
    • 11 years ago

    So…would this free up Nvidia to license Atom for an SoC design, basically recreating ION but with the CPU onboard?

      • DrDillyBar
      • 11 years ago

      I think teh 9400M is too large to fit on package.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        They’ve already put an entire chipset complete with graphics into one package, and I’ve seen bigger packages, so theoretically, “why not”.

          • DrDillyBar
          • 11 years ago

          I suppose. It would be sorta funny to see a massive 200M+ transistor 9400M next to a 47M transistor CPU.

          • eitje
          • 11 years ago

          You’ve seen bigger packages, huh?

          heh heh heh…

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Intel (to VIA) : “falcon… *[

    • AMDisDEC
    • 11 years ago

    Great!
    Looks like Intel is implementing an ARM type Core IP licensing scheme. This will help drive ATOM down to custom ultra low power application specific design-ins.
    It’s a very smart move which AMD should have thunk of for their Geode.

      • jap0nes
      • 11 years ago

      that’s what i thought. They’re aiming at the embedded marked, which, by the way, should be the original target of atom.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        It always was. The current Atom was just a stepping stone on the way to a fully-integrated SoC that could, Intel hopes, get x86 into cell phones eventually. Intel had modest plans for the first Atom — they talked about “Mobile Internet Devices” — and were completely surprised by the Netbook market (and not entirely happily, since it cannibalized sales of Centrino). Today’s Atom was just a proof of concept that turned out to sell (in large part because it was so cheap). But embedded was always the ultimate segment Intel had in mind.

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