Intel launches $1 billion fund to create foundry innovation ecosystem
SANTA CLARA, Calif., February 7, 2022 — Intel today announced a new $1 billion fund to support early-stage startups and established companies developing disruptive technologies for the foundry ecosystem. A collaboration between Capital Intel and Intel Foundry Services (IFS), the fund will prioritize investments in capabilities that accelerate time-to-market for foundry customers – spanning intellectual property (IP), software tools, innovative chip architectures and advanced packaging technologies . Intel also announced partnerships with several companies aligned with this fund and focused on key industry strategic inflections: enabling modular products with an open chip platform and supporting design approaches that leverage multiple chip architectures. instruction sets (ISA), covering x86, Arm and RISC-V.
“Foundry customers are quickly adopting a modular design approach to differentiate their products and speed time to market. Intel Foundry Services is well positioned to lead this major industry shift. With our new investment fund and open chip platform, we can help the ecosystem develop disruptive technologies across the full spectrum of chip architectures,” said Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel. .
How it works
As part of its IDM 2.0 strategy, Intel recently created IFS to help meet the growing global demand for advanced semiconductor manufacturing. In addition to providing industry-leading packaging and process technology and committed capability in the United States and Europe, IFS is positioned to offer the foundry industry’s broadest portfolio of differentiated intellectual property, including all the main ISAs.
A robust ecosystem is essential to help foundry customers bring their designs to life using IFS technologies. The new innovation fund was created to strengthen the ecosystem in three ways:
- Equity investments in disruptive startups.
- Strategic investments to accelerate partner scaling.
- Investments in the ecosystem to develop disruptive capabilities to serve IFS clients.
“Intel is an innovation powerhouse, but we know that not all good ideas come from within our four walls,” said Randhir Thakur, president of Intel Foundry Services. “Innovation thrives in open and collaborative environments. This billion dollar fund in partnership with Intel Capital, a recognized leader in venture capital investing, will leverage all of Intel’s resources to drive innovation in the foundry ecosystem.
Saf Yeboah, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel, said, “Intel Capital’s history and expertise is rooted in chips. Over the past 30 years, we’ve invested more than $5 billion in 120 companies supporting the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem, from the materials coming out of the ground to the software tools used to implement a design. Our investments, which range from pioneering bets in start-ups to deeply strategic and collaborative investments, drive innovation in architecture, intellectual property, materials, equipment and design.
About the RISC-V Open Ecosystem
A key part of the IFS strategy is to offer a wide range of industry-leading IPs optimized for Intel process technologies. IFS is the only foundry to offer an optimized IP for the three main ISAs in the industry: x86, Arm and RISC-V.
As the first open source ISA, RISC-V offers a level of scalability and customization unique in the industry. There is strong demand from foundry customers to support more RISC-V IP offerings. Under the new innovation fund, Intel is planning investments and offerings that will strengthen the ecosystem and help drive adoption of RISC-V. Fund will help RISC-V disruptive companies innovate faster through IFS by collaborating on technology co-optimization, prioritizing wafer shuttles, supporting customer designs, building development boards and infrastructure software, etc
Intel partners with leading partners in the RISC-V ecosystem, including Andes Technology, Esperanto Technologies, SiFive, and Ventana Micro Systems. IFS plans to offer a range of validated, performance-optimized RISC-V IP cores for different market segments. By partnering with leading vendors, IFS will optimize IP for Intel process technologies to ensure that RISC-V performs best on IFS silicon on all core types, from embedded to high performance. Three types of RISC-V offerings will be made available:
- Partner products made on IFS technologies.
- RISC-V cores under differentiated IP licensing.
- RISC-V based chip building blocks, leveraging advanced packaging and high-speed chip-to-chip interfaces.
See “Fact Sheet: Catalyzing the RISC-V Ecosystem” to learn more about how IFS is catalyzing the RISC-V ecosystem with leading partners.
In addition to hardware and IP, a rich ecosystem of open source software is essential to accelerate the growth and adoption of the RISC-V processor and fully unlock the value for chip designers. IFS will sponsor an open source software development platform that allows freedom of experimentation, including ecosystem partners, universities and consortia. To advance this program, the company today announced that it is joining RISC-V Internationala global non-profit organization supporting the architecture and extensions of the free and open RISC-V instruction set.
“I’m thrilled that Intel, the company that pioneered the microprocessor 50 years ago, is now a member of RISC-V International,” said David Patterson, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, Distinguished Engineer at Google and Vice Chairman of the Board of RISC-V International.
About the Open Chiplet Platform
With the advent of advanced 3D packaging technologies, chip architects are increasingly taking a modular approach to design, moving from system-on-chip architectures to system-on-package architectures. This provides a way to partition complex semiconductors into modular blocks called “chiplets”. Each block is customized for a particular function, giving designers incredible flexibility to combine the best IP and process technologies for the product application. The ability to reuse intellectual property also shortens development cycles and reduces the time and cost to bring a product to market.
Although there are opportunities in many segments, the data center market is an early adopter of modular architectures. Many cloud service providers (CSPs) are looking to build custom compute machines that incorporate accelerators, with the goal of improving data center performance for workloads such as artificial intelligence. Tightly integrating accelerator chips into the same package as a data center processor allows for significantly higher performance and reduced power compared to placing accelerator cards close to CPU cards.
Truly harnessing the power of modular architectures requires an open ecosystem, as the approach combines IP design and process technologies from multiple vendors. IFS enables this ecosystem with its open chip platform, co-developed with CSPs to accelerate integration of customers’ platform and accelerator IP package. The platform will leverage Intel’s industry-leading packaging capabilities with optimized IP for IFS’s advanced process technologies, combined with services to accelerate customers’ time to market through integration and validation.
Additionally, Intel is committed to partnering with other industry leaders to develop an open standard for a die-to-die interconnect that allows chiplets to communicate with each other at high speeds. Building on a strong track record of widely deployed standards – such as USB, PCI Express and CXL – the industry can create a new open ecosystem that will enable interoperable chips from different foundries and process nodes to be packaged using of a wide variety of technologies.
The new open chip platform is seeing strong momentum with customers who value the ability to quickly integrate accelerators optimized for new and evolving data center workloads.
Intel is an industry leader, creating world-changing technology that enables global progress and enriches lives. Inspired by Moore’s Law, we continuously work to advance semiconductor design and manufacturing to help solve our customers’ greatest challenges. By embedding intelligence across the cloud, network, edge, and all types of computing devices, we unlock the potential of data to transform businesses and society for the better. To learn more about Intel’s innovations, visit newsroom.intel.com and intel.com.