Atom to be manufactured out-of-house.
Intel usually makes it a point of pride that it has the facilities to produce its own chips so the announcement that a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) has been agreed with TSMC to have manufacture Atom CPUs manufactured by the independent silicon foundry.
As part of the MoU, Intel will be moving Atom – its IPs, libraries and design flows – over to TSMC’s technology platform. The intention, Intel says, is to “expand Intel’s Atom SoCs availability for Intel customers for a wider range of applications through integration with TSMC’s diverse IP infrastructure.” To put it another way; hopefully more OEMs will use Atom in a wider variety of ways.
That Intel apparently needs to outsource production strikes me as an interesting indication of just how much demand there is for Intel’s low-power CPU. That the outsourcing also includes some work on Intel’s side to tweak Atom’s design to fit with TSMC’s other technologies could be taken as a concession on Intel’s side that it’s current, restrictive, shipping method of only being able to get an Atom CPU as a bundle with an Intel chipset is hindering its partners’ innovation.
I certainly look forward to seeing what manner of products the collaboration between Intel and TSMC leads to.