Heard of Achronix Semiconductor Corp? Probably not. But the company's Speedster22i FPGAs will be manufactured using Intel's 22-nano fabrication technology. This is a first for Intel, which generally keeps its advanced fab capacity to itself.
In a blog post linking Achronix's press release, Intel Director of Product and Technology Media Relations Bill Kircos calls the company's fabs its "prized possession." He says Intel is "selectively offering" access to Achronix with the deal, and that its magnitude won't be large enough to impact Intel's earnings. The chip giant's production capacity shouldn't be affected, either. Achronix will be using "significantly less than one percent" of Intel's fab capacity, although it's unclear whether that refers to the capacity of all of Intel's fabs or just those that will be capable of producing 22-nano wafers.
Ars Technica's Jon Stokes points out that Intel typically sets expectations low and starts slowly when entering new markets. He doesn't think Intel is toying with the idea of farming out significant portions of its fab capacity, but that the firm sees this as a low-risk opportunity to play in different markets. If things work out, it's poised to snatch up partners like Achronix, whose products will already be ported to Intel's process technology.
The deal looks like a good one for Achronix, too. Those Speedster22i FPGAs are expected to boost performance by 300%, cut costs by 40%, and halve power consumption.