Intel is one of the latest companies to invest in Arm, joining the ranks of Samsung, Alphabet, Nvidia and more, Tom's Hardware reports. The move comes as Softbank preps Arm for its IPO, with plans to offer 95.5 million shares at $47 to $51 each. The company is valued at $52 billion — more than the almost deal selling Arm to Nvidia for $40 billion that fell off in 2022 (barriers included the Federal Trade Commission suing to block it).
Investing in what is, essentially, its competitor allows Intel to expand beyond its x86 chips — which are not nearly as efficient as those Arm is currently manufacturing. Stuart Pann, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel Foundry Services, confirmed the investment during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference Call. "80 percent of TSMC's wafers have an ARM processor in them," Pann said. "The fact that our organization, the IFS organization, is embracing ARM at this level, investing in ARM, doing partnerships with ARM, should give you a signpost that we're absolutely serious about playing in this business because if you're not working with ARM, you can't be a foundries provider." As an “anchor investor,” Intel should have better access to Arm’s future chip design IP which it can then produce via its burgeoning contract factory plans.
As part of this expansion, Pann added that the company would be focusing more on other low-power chipsets, including RISC-V, which he said is where the “volumes” are at in the new world of mobile-first computing. After all, the point of Intel opening up its factories to third parties in the first place was to admit that its own efforts in this space hadn’t been as successful as its much-smaller rival.
Intel's decision to invest in Arm comes at a time of tremendous growth in (and incentives to grow) the chip manufacturing industry. Earlier this year, the Biden administration released funding applications for companies to get a piece of $39 billion devoted to semiconductor manufacturing. More recently, Apple extended its licensing deal with Arm until 2040. The iPhone maker was a founding backer of the company, first using its technology in its (ultimately doomed) Newton and now, more recently, as the backbone of its entire lineup.