Intel: It would be ‘fantastic’ to build chips for Apple, including custom Apple designs

“Intel Corp would consider making chips for rivals, but any proposal to use its advanced manufacturing technology to make processors based on a competing architecture would trigger an ‘in-depth discussion,'” Paul Sandle reports for Reuters.

“Intel views its massive lead in manufacturing know-how as a key asset and opening its factories up to competitors would be a major shift for the industry. ‘There are certain customers that would be interesting to us and certain customers that wouldn’t,’ Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith told journalists after an investor event in London on Thursday,” Sandle reports. “‘If Apple or Sony came to us and said ‘I want to do a product that involves your IA (Intel architecture) core and put some of my IP around it,’ I wouldn’t blink,’ [Smith said]. “‘That would be fantastic business for us. Then you get into the middle ground of ‘I don’t want it to be a IA core, I want it to be my own custom-designed core,’ and then you are only getting the manufacturing margin, (and) that would be a much more in-depth discussion and analysis.'”

“Smith said Intel had signed some ‘tiny’ foundry deals in the last year, mainly to gain access to new technology, but a proposal from the likes of Apple was ‘not in the works today,’ and the prospect of making chips for others was not driving Intel’s investment in capacity,” Sandle reports.

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lava_Head_UK” for the heads up.]

10 Comments

  1. Apple is not very interested in “custom designs” — and never was, actually.

    They had their own VLIC design bureau since like forever (it designed all kinds of special chips). And Apple added two more design bureaus in last three years: P.A. Semi and Intrinsity.

    So Apple could be rather interested in use of Intel’s manufacturing facilities, not in designs.

  2. Only if the chip involves Intel architecture. For pure ARM design chips that are manufactured for margin, Intel will look twice, three times at it before agreeing. So Intel as a pure fabrication subcontractor will not materialise in the near future. So it’s back to Samsung foundries for the A5 chip for the time being.

    There’s no escaping Samsung for now.

    1. Exactly, the title is misleading. Intel is only interest in custom Apple designs of the Atom chip architecture, not ARM chips.

      Intel still has to prove that they can make mobile chips that can compete with ARM chips in price, battery consumption and processing power.

  3. Apple could very well partner with Intel to build a foundry that manufactured custom Apple silicon using processes and techniques licensed from Intel. That isn’t very far fetched. Intel isn’t making ANY money from iOS device sales, this would allow them to grab some of that money.

  4. Why is Intel chatting this up in the press anyway. I’m sure they have there own desks inside Apple and Sony. I imagine this approach would only piss Apple off, as they like to keep a lid on everything. “IF Apple or Sony came to us…”sounds mighty desperate. I don’t think he’s saying anything Apple wouldn’t have already considered and they’re holding all the cards.

  5. With Apple’s problems with Samsung a partnership with Intel on USA soil would keep designs under one jurisdiction and save USA IP from theft.
    The bonus is that CPU design would speed up with a fresh approach by bouncing ideas back and forth.

    The sleeper is LightPeak! With speeds up to 1THz + as suggested recently, the problem is silicon crawling at less than 10GHz.

    It is in USA interests, possibly a Defense contract, for joint Intel/Apple CPU GPU (Carbon based?) laser integrated design for the first 100GHz CPU with Deep Thought possibilities!

  6. I think what qka said here is perhaps the most significant aspect at least short term. Perhaps opening themselves up to custom designs for Macs incorporating some aspects of IOS functionality where feasible protecting their own business. Intel already tweaked a design to suit Apple in the early Airs so maybe an expansion of this cooperation might be attractive to both parties and as far as Intel specifically an important move to keep ARM off of the Mac platform as has been floated of late, where ironically the Air or derivatives thereof would be the prime focus if true. What it does suggest though is that moving beyond that to producing ARM based chips would, though not ruled out, be a very difficult move for them to make. Fact is if they made that move it would only popularise the Arm based chip letting in other competitors and threaten their own dominant position in the PC space. Only by the loss of Apple altogether would such a difficult decision become real I suspect, not because of volume but because of Apple’s influence upon technology and how it is perceived.

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