Semi-custom processors from Intel: custom-made Xeon CPUs possible in the future

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With the revival of its own chip contract manufacturing for third-party companies, Intel is also taking up the business with semi-custom processors. Those who bring the necessary change are not limited to off-the-shelf goods, but can adapt CPU designs to their own needs. Intel sees a market in particular for adapted Xeon processors for data centers.

the website Tom’s Hardware makes one Analyst conference with Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger attentive, in which he discusses the flexibility of Intel Foundry Services (IFS) and Integrated Device Manufacturing (IDM) 2.0 (in the video from minute 51:36).

According to Gelsinger, around a third of the more than 100 companies that want to start using Intel’s custom chip manufacturing process are interested in custom x86 cores. “We got a lot of interest from some of our traditional customers who said, ‘So I can make my own version of Xeon?’ And the answer is yes, “explained Gelsinger. “‘I could combine it with some of my special networking needs?’ Yes! ‘I could leave out some of the transistors that I don’t need in these configurations?’ Yes!”

Intel’s boss compares its own offering with the ARM ecosystem, which is the pioneer in the adaptability of CPU designs. AMD’s semi-custom division has also been successful for many years: Microsoft and Sony are the most prominent customers for their own consoles, in which various logic blocks are adapted and combined, most recently with the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5 with Zen-2 CPUs and RDNA-2 GPUs.

Intel’s offering goes one step further as the company can also manufacture the designs in its own semiconductor factories. AMD customers have to go to the TSMC chip contract manufacturer for this. Intel will soon have its own high-performance GPUs in its portfolio again, but they still have to prove themselves. As an alternative to x86, Intel is developing RISC-V arithmetic units that clients can integrate into their processors.

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