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Intel expects China chip partners to distance themselves from ARM

by Mark Tyson on 12 November 2014, 13:05

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), ARM

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A recent report by Reuters highlights Intel CEO Brian Krzanich's expectations that semiconductor partners in China will stray from rival ARM's technology and migrate to Intel over the next few years.

In an effort to mark its territory as a mobile chip maker, Intel has invested heavily in Chinese chip partners this year, having signed a deal with Chinese SoC maker Rockchip in May for the manufacturer to sell Intel-branded SoFIA SoCs starting in 2015. Then in September it announced plans to invest $1.5 billion for a 20 per cent stake in a Chinese venture under the government-owned Tsinghua Unigroup, which owns mobile chipmakers Spreadtrum and RDA Microelectronics.

With these Chinese partners specialising in turnkey smartphone and tablet platforms that are easy for manufacturers to use, Intel hopes to take a positive turn from its struggling attempts to establish presence as a chip supplier in the mobile devices market. The new ventures will help Intel push for a larger share in China's mobile chip market, which is rapidly becoming a global entre for the smartphone industry. Furthermore, partnering with a company that is funded by the Chinese state will definitely support this push.

Although the agreements do not prevent Intel's new Chinese partners from using ARM designs, Krzanich expects them to switch to using Intel's x86 architecture exclusively within two or three years. Many businesses throughout China currently use ARM-based mobile chips whilst chip makers typically design their chips with technology licensed from the British company. But Krzanich believes that Intel's architecture and cutting-edge factories will offer its partners a new way of differentiating their products with better performance and features. "If you're a small guy trying to compete, it's tough to be in that battle," explained Krzanich.

Both Rockchip and Spreadtrum are working on Intel-branded SoC designs which are expected to materialise sometime next year. Krzanich expects both Chinese chipmakers to simply phase out ARM designs in favour of Intel parts gradually, since these relatively small companies will probably not have the resources to make separate chips based on Intel and ARM architectures over the long term.



HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Have these companies not seen what sort of problems that partners of Intel end up with?

Oh well, goodbye RockChip, was nice using your chips while you were around.
I think that Intel will have to up its game in Android to move chip designers from ARM completely, but of course if Intel strong-arms them (pun not intended) it might happen even without this.
ET3D
I think that Intel will have to up its game in Android to move chip designers from ARM completely, but of course if Intel strong-arms them (pun not intended) it might happen even without this.
I think it'd depend on the licensing terms that Intel is offering - if they're better than ARM's terms then, sure, they might be able to increase their market share. Then again, as DanceswithUnix points out, Intel's got “form” on giving their partners problems. Plus there's people like Samsung - with Exynos - who I'm guessing are quite happy staying ARM compatible and are big enough not to be easy to pressurise.

Of course, I'm playing the patriotism card - Go ARM! (UK company).
crossy
I think it'd depend on the licensing terms that Intel is offering - if they're better than ARM's terms then, sure, they might be able to increase their market share. Then again, as DanceswithUnix points out, Intel's got “form” on giving their partners problems. Plus there's people like Samsung - with Exynos - who I'm guessing are quite happy staying ARM compatible and are big enough not to be easy to pressurise.

Of course, I'm playing the patriotism card - Go ARM! (UK company).

Nah, Samsung are vulnerable. They sell quite a lot of laptops, and would take a hit if Intel suddenly had a problem sending them the latest design information like they did with Intergraph, or found that there was an unexpected shortage (yeah right!) of silicon so it went on allocation to only the motherboard manufacturers that were Intel only, or decided that the long term license agreements that had been signed no longer applied to the latest generation of products like they did with Nvidia front side bus licenses.

Qualcomm is doing very well, MediaTek just announced another record month for sales. Away from the Intel stranglehold the pace of innovation in smart phones has been rather impressive, I would hate to have it start to stagnate like PCs have done.

If They do succeed, then Intel will want to claw back the billions they have been spent on contra revenue, budget tablets will start at £200 with crippled features and will die off just like netbooks did. Happy days…
Im a little unsure why he thinks they will switch from ARM to Intel x86, swear i read somewhere that AMD and ARM were working together on a x86 Hybrid, surely this will be appealing to these smaller Chinese companies… AMD are more price orientated right now and produce quality products + if they are already geared to ARM designs then a simple switch to a AMD/ARM Hybrid would make more financial sense than going all out to Intel's designs?.