Intel in ultra-mobile Atom manufacturing deal with TSMC

3 Mar 2009

Chip giant Intel has signed a memorandum of understanding with Taiwanese chip outsourced manufacturing player TSMC to deploy Atom system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology on future ultra-mobile devices.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Intel would port its Atom processor CPU cores to the TSMC technology platform, including processes, intellectual property (IP), libraries and design flows.

The collaboration is intended to expand Intel’s Atom SoCs availability for Intel customers for a wider range of applications through integration with TSMC’s diverse IP infrastructure.

Intel intends to broaden the market opportunities for its Intel Atom SoC, and accelerate deployment of the architecture through multiple SoC implementations.

The Atom processor (pictured) is seen as the key enabler behind the netbook or mini-notebook revolution that has seen these ultra-mobile laptops notch up a 20pc share of the notebook market in Europe alone.

“We believe this effort will make it easier for customers with significant design expertise to take advantage of the benefits of the Intel architecture in a manner that allows them to customise the implementation precisely to their needs,” said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO.

“The combination of the compelling benefits of our Atom processor, combined with the experience and technology of TSMC, is another step in our long-term strategic relationship,” Otellini said.

The Intel Atom processor features 47 million transistors and is Intel’s smallest processor.

Products manufactured through the agreement may find adoption in embedded CPU market segments such as mobile internet devices (MIDs), smart phones, netbooks, nettops and AC-powered consumer electronics devices.

The processor is designed to bring the whole internet and the benefits of computing to an emerging class of consumer-friendly devices.

“TSMC values our strategic relationship with Intel,” said Dr Rick Tsai, president and CEO of TSMC.

“This MoU brings together the Intel architecture and the TSMC technology platform. We expect this collaboration will help proliferate the Atom processor SoC and foster overall semiconductor growth.

“With this agreement, our technology platform extends beyond the two companies’ current collaboration to support future Intel-embedded x86 products,” Dr Tsai added.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Intel’s Atom processor