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Intel told to PUT A SOC IN IT: Fill our kit with chips, says Panasonic

Chipzilla flexes foundry biz while glaring at ARM wannabes

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Intel has notched up another customer for its fledgling Foundry business as it tries to make money out of its manufacturing and engineering expertise besides x86 processor sales.

The world's most valuable chip manufacturer said on Monday that Panasonic's audio-visual gear will make future system-on-chips (SoCs) in Intel's factories.

By using Intel's plants, Panasonic – an ARM licensee – hopes to get "highly improved performance and power advantages," Yoshifumi Okamoto, the director of Panasonic's SLSI Business Division, said in a canned quote. The terms for the agreement were not disclosed, although we're told the low-power SoCs will use 14nm-process Tri-Gate transistors.

Intel started its Foundry business in 2010 when it announced that FPGA maker Achronix Semiconductor would crank out 22nm process silicon from Intel's fabs.

This, along with its chip customization business for large customers like eBay, represents another way Chipzilla is trying to make money out of its terrifically expensive fabrication facilities. It also gives it a better idea of how to compete with upstart rivals trying to get ARM-compatible chips into the data center.

Since launching the Foundry business in 2010, Intel has gone through a major management change with Bryan Krzanich replacing Paul Otellini as chief executive. This may have helped cement support for the Foundry as Krzanich was previously the company's chief operating officer, meaning he has an intimate familiarity with the blemishes and possibilities of Intel's fabs.

"When we first started we viewed this as a crawl, walk, run scenario - we are well into the walking now, we are adding customers more frequently, adding capabilities more frequently, and as our customers have more success we'll be moving along more rapidly," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told The Register.

"We're pleased to add another customer to the suite of publicly announced customers. We're pleased to be able to work with them - it indicates progress on our part."

Other customers of Intel's fledgling foundry include Tabula, Netronome, Microsemi and FPGA expert Altera. ®

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