What you need to know
- Intel has been asked how it will handle the growing Arm versus x86 dynamic.
- Intel says it will allow for co-designed x86 chips.
- The company says this will especially benefit its cloud service providing customers.
Plenty of companies are interested in Arm technology, ranging from Microsoft to NVIDIA. The latter is even attempting to acquire Arm in its entirety because of the value it sees. And that rampant interest is putting Intel in a bit of a hot seat.
For a long time, Intel was restrictive with its x86 licensing practices and not super big on the idea of hybrid designs built around a customer's preferences rather than its own. However, based on Seeking Alpha transcripts documenting the company's latest earnings call, it seems Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is certain that Intel's most inflexible days are behind it (via PC Gamer).
In the earnings call, Gelsinger was asked if, in response to Arm's flexible IP licensing practices, Intel would consider allowing "hyperscale" customers to co-design their own products with its foundry services. Gelsinger's answer? Yes. He mentioned this would especially benefit cloud service providers, then framed it within the context of the market duel with Arm:
... we do believe that the ability for our customers to take advantage of x86 this way will be a meaningful shift in how people think about Arm versus x86. Because part of it was we weren't giving them the flexibility to design to comingle IP as I have described it.
So, there you have it. Intel's new $20 billion plan to fight the semiconductor crisis is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the company plans on positioning itself for future relevance and dominance. How far Intel's willing to let customers go when it comes to hybrid designs remains to be seen, but one thing's for certain: It's further than the company's allowed in the past.