A month ago Intel signed a deal to let Taiwanese foundry TSMC make Atom SoCs (system-on-a-chip). There was some speculation that firms like NVIDIA might use this SoC in future products but Intel clarified the situation yesterday. The chip giant said only developers of actual devices may license Atom cores for their products, the Atom SoC is aimed at OEM consumer electronics manufacturers and embedded device manufacturers, fabless semiconductor firms like NVIDIA will not be able to use the Atom SoC to compete against Intel.
“Intel customers will have access to certain Atom cores. Intel will own all relationships with customers. Intel customers will have access to both Intel’s and TSMC's technology platforms for the design and manufacturing of Atom-based SoCs. Customers interested in the TSMC technology platform will also work through Intel, but will still continue to leverage TSMC’s infrastructure they are familiar with, e.g., design tools, simulation, etc,” said Megan Langer, an Intel spokesperson.
But not everyone will be able to create Intel Atom-based SoC. For example, if a company is a fabless developer of chips that it sells to third parties for their devices, such a company will not be able to make an Atom-powered SoC. Hence, for example, Nvidia Corp. will not be able to develop x86 SoC with Atom inside, but a firm producing its own devices could well benefit from the pact between TSMC and Intel.