Intel, alleged details emerge about production plans at TSMC

Intel, alleged details emerge about production plans at TSMC
A job posting on Intel's website, and now removed, has allowed us to have some more information about Intel's outsourcing plans. It's hardly a secret that the Santa Clara-based company will have TSMC produce more products in the future, but so far the company has been pretty vague about the details. According to the article, in addition to the Xe-HPG and Xe-HPC GPUs, TSMC will also produce “Atom and Xeon” SoCs for Intel.

“As a member of the QAT design team, you will work as head of RTL integration within the Custom Logic ASIC Engineering group in DCG [Data Center Group] ”- reads the job advertisement (identified by @Komachi_Ensaka). "You will play a key role in the development and integration of QAT into the Atom and Xeon based SoC on Intel and TSMC processes, work with the IP / SoC integration team, and collaborate with the SoC design, validation and emulation teams to ensure the successful validation of the QAT IP integration. "

QuickAssist (QAT) technology is a hardware IP designed to accelerate cryptographic and compression workloads. Over the years, Intel has incorporated QAT IP into chipsets and SoCs. The company also offered additional QAT cards. Since security and compression technologies are extremely important for all types of edge, network, storage, and server applications, Intel integrates this hardware IP into all of its processors and SoCs for such devices.

To target various niche markets, Intel currently manufactures a number of specialized Atom and Xeon-branded SoCs. This year the company introduced “Snow Ridge” Atom SoCs with up to 24 Tremont cores for 5G base stations, as well as “Elkhart Lake” Atom SoCs with up to four Tremont cores for various edge and embedded computing applications. . Additionally, the company has Xeon D-series SoCs equipped with Skylake-SP cores in its range that are intended for networking and storage applications. So far, Intel hasn't announced a single Xeon-branded SoC with low-power Atom cores.

In its job posting, Intel doesn't reveal any details about the upcoming Atom and Xeon SoCs that will be manufactured at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. . (TSMC).

Considering that modern Xeons use high performance cores (with all their progressive instructions such as AVX-512) and are sold for quite high prices, it's easy to assume it's not particularly reasonable to trust them. to third parties as chips are very important to recover the costs associated with their factories. Intel's specialized Atom SoCs aren't exactly cheap, but they are based on low-power cores and are less complex than CPUs or Xeon SoCs. To this end, it is rational that they are more likely candidates for outsourcing.

At this point, it is unclear which of TSMC's nodes will be used. However, considering we're looking at production in 2021 or 2022, it's reasonable to assume that the chip giant will opt for one of TSMC's N5 class nodes (N5, N5P, N4, etc.) for high-performance SoCs, and / or N6 for cost-sensitive products that require an advanced process.

Read Also: Intel's Machine Programming Tool Gets Smarter

Historically, Intel has outsourced chipset manufacturing and Atom SoCs designed for budget mobile devices at TSMC. As the company acquired more chip makers using TSMC's technology, such as Altera, Intel's ties to TSMC have strengthened.

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