Intel Foundry Services Partners with Arm on New SoC Designs
by Todd R. Weiss | April 13, 2023

The News: Intel Foundry Services and Arm are collaborating to develop the next generations of the low-power system on chip (SoC) designs that will run and manage a wide variety of future devices using Arm cores and Intel 18A process technology. The first SoCs under the partnership will target mobile devices, while new generations of SoCs could later be developed to target automotive, internet of things (IoT), data center, aerospace and government uses, the companies said. Read the full April 12 Press Release on the Intel Foundry Services and Arm collaboration on the Arm website.

Intel Foundry Services Partners with Arm on New SoC Designs

Analyst Take: Intel Foundry Services and Arm are wisely not wasting any time joining forces to meet the chip needs of future business and consumer devices. I like this collaboration move and I think it bodes well for both companies since it brings together the strength of each to drive both forward in a busy marketplace.

Intel Foundry and Arm are describing their deal as a “multigenerational collaboration” that will bring the two companies together for the long term to design and build new families of SoCs. I believe this establishes a smart strategy for joint innovations and combined expertise from two market leaders in creating more versatile and flexible SoCs for uses that may not even be imagined today.

The collaboration will also provide expertise to Arm customers that are developing their own custom Arm SoC designs for mobile uses which will be manufactured on Intel 18A process technology by Intel Foundry Services.

I believe that this combination of Arm’s deep chip IP and design expertise along with the established breadth of Intel’s chip manufacturing capabilities will help to make this new endeavor a strong force in the growing SoC marketplace. Arm has been showing its prowess in chip IP and innovative manufacturing partnerships for a long time and Intel Foundry Services barely needs an introduction when it comes to its quality chip-making and its expanding production capacity.

Intel Foundry Services and Intel 18A Technology Details

Under the new collaboration, Intel Foundry Services and Arm will adopt a design technology co-optimization (DTCO) process that aims to combine and optimize chip design and process technologies for each future SoC platform developed by the partners. By optimizing these processes together from the design stage, the companies said this will lead to improved power, performance, area, and cost (PPAC) for the Arm core designs that will be manufactured using the Intel 18A process technology. Two new technologies being delivered in the Intel 18A platform are PowerVia, which helps provide optimal power delivery, and a new RibbonFET gate all around (GAA) transistor architecture aimed at solidifying performance and power. Both will give SoC customers expanded new capabilities for inclusion in their chip designs. Arm is a fabless chip company that provides design and innovation services, while leaving actual chip manufacturing to partners like Intel and others.

Under the collaboration, Intel Foundry Services and Arm will co-develop a new reference design for mobile SoC use, giving prospective customers a demonstration platform for the software and system knowledge capabilities of the new chips.

And as the chip industry evolves from today’s DTCO co-optimization processes to new system technology co-optimization (STCO) processes, the two partners say they will bring their platforms, applications and software together to optimize them for Intel’s open system foundry model.

Intel Foundry Services and Arm Overview

In my view, there is a lot to like here as Intel Foundry Services and Arm up their combined game through this collaboration. As demand for flexible, high-performance, low-power SoCs continues to increase for a wide range of consumer and business devices, this Intel Foundry Services and Arm deal will certainly pay dividends for both companies as they prepare now to meet tomorrow’s chip needs.

There is plenty of fierce competition in the SoC market from established players and startups, so companies like Intel and Arm must not rest on their past strategies and directions in this profitable and growing space.

It will also be fascinating to watch how this deal lights a fire under other SoC makers in the marketplace and drives continuing innovation. This, I believe, is how markets like these will be inspired to grow and thrive to meet the future needs of customers and device makers.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Image Credit: Intel

About the Author

Todd is an experienced Analyst with over 21 years of experience as a technology journalist in a wide variety of tech focused areas.