Why Is Intel Fabbing Achronix FPGAs?
Why on earth has Intel decided to fab Achronix FPGAs?
Achronix says it will use Intel for the 22nm process..
Intel is not thought to have previously acted as a foundry.
Indeed when, many years ago, Actel approached Intel to fab its FPGAs Andy Grove gave a very firm No to the request.
So why the change in attitude?
Well Intel could be wanting to get back into the FPGA business – it had a stab at it in the 1980s and made a hash of it. Intel could buy Achronix any time it wanted and this could be a gentle way in to see if there’s any chance of a second chance.
Intel is certainly thrashing around looking for new markets and Achronix’s high-performance FPGAs would suit Intel’s temperamental inclination for speed. Is the $4 billion FPGA market worth Intel’s attention? Well, maybe.
On the other hand, FPGAs with their regular structures are good devices with which to de-bug processes. Intel may think the Achronix FPGA would be a useful de-bug vehicle for its 22nm process.
The only other reason I can think of – that Intel wants to get into the foundry business to defray fab costs. After all Samsung has a substantial foundry business which it is trying to grow.
So foundry could be seen as another new business area for Intel. And a foundry business would have the plus of giving Intel wider experience of processes designed for other things than processors.
But to operate in the foundry business you have to co-operate closely and amicably with your customers.
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