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Intel’s $1 billion investment may bring next-level computing

Intel has just announced that it has launched a $1 billion fund in order to support disruptive technologies for its foundry ecosystem. As part of this new mission, Intel has partnered with RISC-V, a free and open-source standard instruction set architecture (ISA).

As the ongoing chip shortage continues to disrupt markets all over the world, Intel’s investment couldn’t have come at a better time. The question is, what are Intel’s plans and what can it do for the state of the industry at large?

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger holding a chip.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation

The tech giant has announced this huge investment on its website, stating that the new fund will be used to strengthen its current foundry business and accelerate the adoption of disruptive technologies. It seems that Intel’s goal is to tick several boxes at once: Adopting new technologies could open the door to new computing capabilities, and expanding its foundry ecosystem could certainly help at a time like this when chips are scarce. The investment was made possible due to a partnership between Intel Capital and Intel Foundry Services.

In order to achieve these goals, Intel has made an investment and joined RISC-V as a new partner. As mentioned above, RISC-V is an architecture run by a nonprofit organization of almost the same name: RISC-V International. Unlike many other architectures, RISC-V is open-source, making it more accessible — and this could be a good thing for Intel’s future partnerships with other technologies.

Intel is hoping to use modular products that feature an open chiplet platform, focusing on design approaches that utilize multiple ISAs, including x86, ARM, and RISC-V. The goal is to spread the support of disruptive technologies to all kinds of chip architectures. The company is focusing on RISC-V in particular, highlighting that it hopes to drive the adoption of this architecture. Intel certainly seems to have big plans for RISC-V.

An engineer smiles as she holds up two processor chips.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Bob Brennan, vice president of customer solutions engineering at Intel Foundry Services, said in a press release: “A rich open-source software and hardware ecosystem is critical for accelerating the growth and adoption of RISC-V and fully unlocking value for chip designers. Intel is delighted to support the growth of the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture. We look forward to optimizing IP for Intel process technologies to ensure that RISC-V runs best on IFS silicon across all types of cores, from embedded to high-performance.”

Another goal on Intel’s list is to improve the time it takes to design and manufacture new products, as well as how long it takes to get them to market. This, combined with the new partnership with RISC-V, could mean good things for the industry as a whole. If Intel is successful, it could perhaps manufacture new chips faster than ever, and these chips could feature improved architectures.

For the end user, Intel’s $1 billion investment may not mean much, but in time, this could be yet another piece in this large puzzle that many tech giants are working to solve. Although the chip shortage still affects users all over the world, investments such as this may bring us one step closer to a time when computing is made accessible again. Intel continues taking steps toward meeting the growing demand, including by working on its own ARM competitor.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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