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Intel Expands Chip-Making Agreement With Altera

The two companies will work together to create multi-die devices using Altera's ARM-based programmable chips and Intel's 14nm process.

Intel officials last year announced that the company would manufacture Altera's ARM-based quad-core Stratix 10 processors, part of its efforts to grow its foundry business to make silicon products for third parties.

Now the two vendors are expanding the relationship to include multi-die devices, which integrate Altera's field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) with a range of other components, from memory to ASICs to processors, into a single package. Such multi-die devices can drive down production costs and improve performance and energy efficiency of chips for everything from high-performance servers to communications systems.

The multi-die devices will take advantage of the Stratix 10 programmable chips that Intel is manufacturing for Altera with its 14-nanometer Tri-Gate process. Intel's three-dimensional transistor architecture combined with Altera's FPGA redundancy technology leads to Altera being able to create a highly dense and energy-efficient programmable chip die that can offer better integration of components.

"Our partnership with Altera to manufacture next-generation FPGAs and SoCs using our 14nm Tri-Gate process is going exceptionally well," Sunit Rikhi, vice president and general manager of Intel Custom Foundry, said in a statement. "Our close collaboration enables us to work together in many areas related to semiconductor manufacturing and packaging. Together, both companies are building off one another's expertise with the primary focus on building industry-disrupting products."

Intel has been pursuing several growth strategies to expand the reach of its silicon technology and reduce its reliance on a PC market that continues to see global sales drop. Among those markets are mobile devices, wearable computing systems and the Internet of things.

At the same time, Intel officials are looking for ways to leverage the company's massive manufacturing capabilities, including growing its foundry business by making chips for other vendors. CEO Brian Krzanich and other Intel executives have said they will manufacture third-party chips even if they are based on competing infrastructure, which is the case with Altera and its ARM-based chips.

"Leveraging Intel's advanced manufacturing and chip-packaging capabilities will allow Altera to deliver system-in-a-package solutions that have been identified as critical to meeting overall performance requirements," Brad Howe, senior vice president of research and development at Altera, said in a statement.