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ARM responds to Intel, TSMC deal

by Scott Bicheno on 13 March 2009, 17:05

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), ARM

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ARM's reaction

Shortly after we brought you our ARM update, Intel announced an unexpected partnership with TSMC. In essence this deal is designed to allow low power System-on-Chip (SoC) products to be manufactured using Intel's Atom as the main processing unit but also using some expertise from TSMC that Intel would otherwise have to develop itself. Intel also hopes to benefit from TSMC's commercial relationships.

This move was widely interpreted as a further strategic move by Intel into the spaces traditionally occupied by ARM designs, so we spoke once more to the director of mobile computing at ARM, Bob Morris, to get ARM's reaction to this move.

"Intel had to move into a lower cost area," said Morris. "They're very good at making fast, hot processors but now they're having to move to a model we've been working on for the past 19 years. Intel's a company that, once it picks an area, goes at it pretty hard. But they're going to have to do something to reduce cost."

Understandably, Morris was reluctant to speculate much further on what Intel's plans might be, but he was quick to stress that "TSMC is a very close partner of ours," and that "partners may go to other foundries."

We wondered if he might be referring to the company newly spun-off from AMD - GLOBALFOUNDRIES - but Morris wouldn't be drawn. However, we thought it significant that the first company, apart from AMD, to indicate it would be working with GLOBALFOUNDIES was ARM.