By Don Clark
A chip company called Achronix on Wednesday is announcing that the first fruits of Intel’s new build-to-order service are emerging from the factory. That’s a milestone for both companies, and a surprising sidelight could play into the story–worries about dependence on non-U.S. manufacturers.
The Silicon Valley startup in 2010 turned to Intel, which opted to break from long-standing practice and use its sophisticated factories and manufacturing processes to serve customers beyond Intel’s own chip-design groups. Achronix became one of two publicly announced users of the new Intel foundry business, as such services are called.
Intel believes it can make smaller and more sophisticated transistors than other foundries. Achronix, which makes a variety of programmable chips that use lots of transistors, says its bet on Intel has paid off as advertised.
The chips, which include models with a whopping six billion transistors, consume half the power of competing chips and cost about half as much, Achronix says. It is shipping sample quantities to customers now and, when extended testing is completed, will be shipping them in volume in the third quarter, says Robert Blake, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
Most foundry factories are in Taiwan or other parts of Asia. Achronix is quick to point out that the entire process of making its chips is handled in the United States.