Intel will license its x86 chips to third parties to compete with ARM

The technology is very scalable and where before Intel reigned freely, it now has competition, and more and more every day. To the already known competition from Apple, we now have to add NVIDIA and even Microsoft. Nvidia’s will is such that it is mired in negotiations to acquire ARM Holdings for its strategic value.

All this movement around ARM has put Intel in such an awkward position to replace its CEO and push Pat Gelsinger to take the helm. The new CEO is looking to reclaim the glory of the Santa Clara business. One of their first steps was to manufacture to third parties and they are now considering licensing their products like ARM does.

Intel will allow processor co-design

For a long time, Intel was restrictive with x86 licensing practices and that’s why hybrid designs didn’t have a lot of room, they didn’t need it. These were hybrid designs built around the preferences of the customer rather than their own. However, based on Seeking Alpha transcripts from the company’s latest account report, it looks like Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is certain that Intel’s most inflexible days are behind us.

At this event, Gelsinger was asked whether, in response to Arm’s flexible IP licensing practices, Intel would consider allowing customers to co-design their own products with its manufacturing departments. Gelsinger’s response? Yes. The CEO of Intel mentioned how this would benefit cloud service providers in particular, and then framed it in the context of the market duel with Arm:

We believe that our customers’ ability to leverage x86 in this way will be a significant change in the way people think about Arm compared to x86. Because part of it was that we didn’t give them the flexibility to design the next IP, as I described.

So Gelsinger started the revolution that Intel needed. In addition to the 20 billion investment to increase semiconductor manufacturing, there are now licenses and co-design. How far you are willing to let customers go when it comes to hybrid designs remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – it’s further than the company has allowed in the past.

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