Arm and Intel Foundry to collaborate, building on past work

Of all the Intel achievements and lofty goals discussed at the first Intel Foundry Direct Connect event on Wednesday, a budding collaboration revealed between Arm and Intel took on special significance.

That’s because a Arm and Intel haven’t exactly been on the same tech pathway for years .(Intel X86 contrasted with Arm microprocessors comes to mind) . Arm CEO Rene Haas acknowledged as much in an onstage appearance with Stuart Pann, senior vice president of Intel Foundry.

Their conversation  went along these lines: “In what universe had you thought Arm and Intel would be standing together?”  And: “This is a bit of strange bedfellows.”

Both men bantered on, but the formal terms of the collaboration were not revealed. An Intel spokesman offered Fierce the following explanation: "Intel and Arm reaffirmed their ongoing collaboration for foundry customers, with Intel unveiling an 'Emerging Business Initiative' which showcases a collaboration with Arm to provide cutting edge foundry services for arm-based System-on-Chips. This initiative presents an exciting opportunity for arm and Intel to support startups in developing Arm-based technology, offering essential IP, manufacturing support and financial assistance to foster innovation and growth.”

Arm explained the onstage interchange a little differently, saying Haas was referring to an announcement of Arm’s Neoverse Compute Subsystem about enabling AI infrastructure on Arm.

Jack Gold, founder and chief analyst at J. Gold Associates, said the Intel-Arm collaboration is symbiotic. For Intel, it means a “very high volume potential since Arm is the core tech for billions of chips and Intel would like to capture some of that foundry business. For Arm, it provides an alternative foundry to TSMC that can give some of its licensees another option to have chips made. If the volumes increase…Arm makes more license fees. If Intel gets some of that business, it makes money by filling its foundry and potentially its packaging business as well.”

Upwards of 80% of the chips produced by TSMC include Arm architectures, according to industry officials.

Patrick Moorhead, founder and chief analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said Arm has known Intel foundry cuistomers  such as MediaTek that have signed with Intel. “I believe we will see more Arm customers run wafers and packaging through Intel Foundry like Microsoft and AWS. If intel keeps up this pace, I could see a scenario that has both Qualcomm and Apple running wafers or packaging through Intel Foundry.”

Pann added a footnote to the Arm collaboration with Intel: “This is a brave new world for us and partnerships really matter. Our work with Arm has been extensive and they are seeking that performance come through in their 18a designs.”