Intel Corp said on July 12 that it plans to acquire eASIC, a small chipmaker that will help further Intel's efforts to diversify away from CPU chips.
Intel did not disclose the terms of the deal for eASIC, which is based in Intel's hometown of Santa Clara, California. An Intel spokeswoman said the price was “not material”, but that about 120 people would join Intel's so-called programmable solutions group as a result.
The chipmaker Altera Corp in 2015, one of Intel's moves to expand its revenue base for the personal computers, and Intel's best-known CPU chips , declined.
Altera is a specialty in the field of programmable chips, which is aimed at solving one of the oldest problems in computing silicon of a custom chip.
Custom chips are more efficient, but they are costly to develop and do not work well for anything other than their original purpose. Altera's chips aim to find a middle ground. They let customers re-wire different parts of the chip together after their purchase by re-programming them, getting some of the benefits of a custom chip without committing to a baked-in design.
With the eASIC deal, Intel will have yet another option. Intel's programmable chips, that the program can be frozen into the chip at the factory, getting a little closer to the benefits of a custom chip and without much extra cost.
“Instead of getting programmed in the field, it gets programmed in the factory,” Dan McNamara, who heads Intel's programmable solutions group, told Reuters in an interview. “It still costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you get it done in the four months as opposed to two years.”
While Intel designs all of the current programmable chip lineup but Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd for lower-end ones, McNamara said. The chips from eASIC are currently manufactured by eSMIC and GlobalFoundries. Intel will start manufacturing eASIC's chips.
“We're going to dig in and figure out where we go for the road map for the next generation,” McNamara said. – Reuters