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Intel Is On A Roll!

On February 25th, 2012, Altera and Intel announced an agreement to build next-generation, high performance FPGAs on Intel’s 14nm Tri-Gate technology.   This is significant because Altera has used TSMC as their sole foundry for years.   Altera has never before been swayed by price or lured away by the promise of technology.  But, as the saying goes, “never say never”.  As of today Altera has two foundry relationships.

This announcement comes less than a week after Achronix announced the successful rollout of their Speedster 22i which is being built using Intel’s 22nm Tri-Gate technology.  Achronix used TSMC for their 65nm and 40nm product development.  It was somewhat of a risk, but Achronix left the TSMC technology track at 40nm, skipped 32/28nm and went straight to Intel for their 22nm Tri-Gate technology.   Was Altera watching in envy?

During TSMC’s Q4 2012 financial conference call, Morris Chang, TSMC’s CEO, was asked at what technology node and for which end markets does TSMC view Intel as becoming a more fierce competitor?   Morris Chang is not new to this business.   He stated that he already viewed Intel as a fierce competitor.

Altera isn’t TSMC’s biggest customer.  And of course, this was an announcement to build product.  We still have to wait and see how long it takes for a product to actually rollout.  But from a marketing standpoint, this is a big coup for Intel.  As I mentioned in my analysis in the February Semico IPI Report and in a blog on SemiMD, the big foundries have to go after the big volume customers because the fabs have to be filled.  Intel has the luxury of concentrating on a few small volume customers since it can use its own products to test the technology and fill its fabs.

What’s the saying?  Good things come in threes.  Should we keep our eyes out for another announcement involving Intel some time soon?

To receive a copy of the February Semico IPI Report with a more in-depth look at the foundry landscape, contact Rick Vogelei at

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