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Intel deepens relationship with Altera



Could wedding bells be on the cards?

Technology gossip columns are full of news that Intel and Altera have expanded their relationship. Apparently, Altera has been Intel’s shoulder to cry on as the chip giant seeks to move beyond the declining PC market and the breakup of the Wintel alliance. Intel took the break up very hard and there was talk that Alteria might be just a rebound thing.

Last year Intel announced that it would manufacture Altera's ARM-based quad-core Stratix 10 processors, as part of its efforts to grow its foundry business to make silicon products for third parties. Now the two vendors are expanding the relationship to include multi-die devices integrating Altera's field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) with a range of other components, from memory to ASICs to processors.

Multi-die devices can drive down production costs and improve performance and energy efficiency of chips for everything from high-performance servers to communications systems. The multi-die devices will take advantage of the Stratix 10 programmable chips that Intel is manufacturing for Altera with its 14-nanometer Tri-Gate process. Intel's three-dimensional transistor architecture combined with Altera's FPGA redundancy technology leads to Altera being able to create a highly dense and energy efficient programmable chip die that can offer better integration of components.

At the same time, Intel officials are looking for ways to make more cash from its manufacturing capabilities, including growing its foundry business by making chips for other vendors. CEO Brian Krzanich and other Intel executives have said they will manufacture third-party chips even if they are based on competing infrastructure, which is the case with Altera and its ARM-based chips.

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