10:35 AM

The World's Two Largest Chipmakers Unite For Intel Atom

(Intel is an SVW sponsor.)

Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, today announced a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) that gives the world's largest chip foundry the rights to manufacture chips for third parties containing Intel's Atom microprocessor design.

TSMC makes chips for hundreds of other companies. This deal will allow its customers to integrate Atom into their designs.

Intel, TSMC Reach Agreement to Collaborate on Technology Platform, IP Infrastructure, SoC Solutions

The Intel Atom processor features 47 million transistors and is Intel’s smallest processor. Products manufactured through the agreement may find adoption in embedded CPU market segments such as mobile internet Devices (MIDs), smart-phones, netbooks, nettops, and AC-powered consumer electronics device. The processor is designed to bring the whole Internet and the benefits of computing to an emerging class of consumer-friendly devices.

Foremski's Take:

This is the first time Intel has allowed other companies to integrate its microprocessor technology into their designs and have them manufactured by a foundry.

The move should help boost the use of Atom in a broader range of digital devices beyond the initial netbook focus. But much will depend on Intel's licensing terms. Netbooks and other digital devices are price sensitive.

The move takes pressure off of Intel in terms of integrating Atom into a family of different chips that can be used in different types of devices. Other chip designers will be able to combine Atom with a library of other designs to create unique chips with advanced features--and with a faster time to market.

Wider use of Atom also means it will be easier to design the software for Atom based devices because there will be more tools and more people with Atom design experience. This will bring down the costs of Atom-based products and increasing their popularity.