The Register reports Intel is dabbling in the customization of its x86 processors for specific large-scale customers in the server market. The effort is a strategy to expand its dominance and increase competition vs ARM. Intel will not only select parts based on unusual temperature, power supply or overclocking tolerances, but will now even implement different features or instructions onto chips for specific customers.
Everyone expects any processor package maker to do deep sorts through their chip bins, finding components that can handle slightly higher temperatures or that have their voltages and clock speeds altered to fit in a specific thermal envelope, or that can deliver higher performance as clocks are cranked above the thermal limits of standard processors.
(Over in the ARM world, this has been going on for years and far more comprehensively: the British processor core designer flogs its technology blueprints to Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom et al, who package the CPUs with all manner of electronics to build heavily customised chips for specific applications.)
As it turns out, Intel has been doing more than just picking out devices with unusual temperature, power supply and over-clocking tolerances, and is in some cases actually etching different features or instructions onto its silicon for specific customers. This is a step outside the chip giant's comfort zone.