Intel has announced an agreement to work with Chinese chip maker Rockchip on next-gen Intel processors aimed at low-cost Android tablets.
Rockchip is probably best known for producing its own ARM-based processors for tablets and TV boxes. But the company is also a fabless semiconductor company which means it has expertise in working with Chinese foundries to bring chips to market quickly.
The agreement with Intel effectively means Rockchip will be the first company to effectively license Intel technology to produce its own chips with Intel processor cores — although the finished product will still have Intel’s name on it, not Rockchip’s.
Intel’s plan is is to work with Rockchip to produce Intel’s upcoming entry-level, quad-core Atom-based “SoFIA” chips with integrated 3G modems.
The chip-maker had already planned to deliver dual-core SoFIA chips in the fourth quarter of 2014 and quad-core LTE versions in the first half of 2015. Now Rockchip will deliver a third SoFIA chip. Its quad-core 3G chips are also scheduled to launch in the first half of 2015.
SoFIA chips will be aimed at entry-level and “value” tablets, so don’t expect Rockchip and Intel to work together on the next Core i7 CPU anytime soon. But as Intel tries to compete in the price-sensitive, entry-level phone and tablet space, it’s interesting to see the chip maker reaching out to Rockchip, a company that’s best known for making inexpensive ARM processors.