Intel Partners With ARM Chip Maker Rockchip on Tablet Products

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-05-27 Print this article Print
tablets Intel

The deal with Rockchip is aimed at accelerating the adoption of Intel chips by device OEMs, according to officials. Intel introduced the SoFIA road map last year; the products will be the first to include the wireless modems on the chip. Currently, Intel sells chips with discrete modems, but integrating the modems onto the chip will help device makers create smaller and cheaper tablets and smartphones, which are increasingly popular in such emerging markets as China, India and Brazil.

The new SoFIA chips—as with those already in the works—will be manufactured by contract chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), though Intel reportedly plans to begin manufacturing SoFIA SoCs at its own facilities in 2016.

Intel is also investing a lot of money and energy in China. In April, the company announced a $100 million fund and plans to build a design center in China designed to fuel the adoption of Intel chips in smart devices, such as smartphones, tablets, wearable computers and new PC form factors.

"The China technology ecosystem will be instrumental in the transformation of computing," Krzanich said at the Intel Developer Forum in China. "To help drive global innovation, Intel will stay focused on delivering leadership products and technologies that not only allow our partners to rapidly innovate, but also deliver on the promise that 'if it computes, it does it best with Intel'—from the edge device to the cloud, and everything in between."

Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, said in a note that the deal with Rockchip makes sense for both companies.

"This is a win-win strategy, giving Intel a massively expanded sphere to sell chips to (via Rockchip) in the rapidly growing low-end tablet market, primarily Android-based," Gold wrote. "This gives Intel a better ability to compete against the ARM ecosystem."

For Rockchip, the deal gives it "a huge competitive advantage against its many rivals in the fabless semiconductor space who don't have the ability to access the huge amounts of strategic IP available from Intel, as well as the potential for Rockchip to use Intel's foundry services for customized designs (which also benefits Intel by filling its fabs)."


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