Intel has traditionally designed and built chips for its own use, but it looks like the company is ready to share its manufacturing strengths and lead in process technology with others. Namely, the company will create chips based on its 22nm technology for Achronix Semiconductor -- a relatively small player in the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) market making specialized chips for sectors like networking, communications and high-performance computing.
FPGAs are integrated circuits that can be programmed after they've been manufactured, allowing customers to adapt them for their own needs. The manufacturing arrangement will get underway in late 2011, and Achronix is touting Intel’s technology as a way for the company to deliver a 300% performance increase in its chips, while requiring 50% less power and costing 40% less to build compared to the 28nm technology the company is currently using from TSMC.
Intel was quick to point out that the production volume will be “significantly less than 1%” of their total production volume, and at least for the time being it doesn’t look like the company is gunning for GlobalFoundries and TSMC’s contract manufacturing business. Instead, Bright Side of News suggests, it’s all about the future of Atom.
According to the site’s sources Intel is going to introduce a "fully configurable Intel Atom Processor" codenamed Stellarton next year. Essentially, Stellarton is a dual die package consisting out of a 45nm Atom E600 processor and a FPGA module. By partnering up with Achronix the company will get enough experience in the field of 22nm FPGA chip manufacturing to apply on its own products and reach out to other vendors further down the road.