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Intel Realizes the Only Way to Save x86 is to Democratize it, Reopens x86 IP Licensing

btarunr

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Back in the glory days of x86 in the 1990s, you could buy an IBM PC-compatible x86 processor from not just Intel and AMD, but also the likes of Cyrix, IDT, Transmeta, and NEC. Competition among the various x86 licensees propelled innovation through the first half of the 32-bit era, but toward the end of the century, and with the Y2K frenzy looming, the PC processor market saw a slew of consolidations, such as Cyrix and IDT (later Centaur) being acquired by VIA Technology. As of 2000, only two companies made high performance x86 processors, and processors for servers—Intel and AMD, with VIA Technology limiting itself to the entry-level PC market. Then came along Arm Cortex 32-bit, graduating from the embedded computing market to client computing, driven by smartphones.

Intel's main competitor today isn't AMD, it's Arm and its constellation of licensees, such as Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, and NVIDIA. Over the decades that followed the advent of the iPhone, Arm graduated from smartphones to PCs (eg: Snapdragon X, Apple M3), and servers (eg: Ampere Altra and NVIDIA Grace). Intel seems to have had the sudden realization that Intel Products should open up in the same way as Intel Foundry Services, and that just as IFS in Pat Gelsinger's words aspires to be the "TSMC of America," x86 should aspire to be the "Arm of America." The only way to go about doing this is to adopt an IP licensing model similar to that of Arm, where third parties are licensed the x86 machine architecture, and should pay Intel royalties based on their chip volumes, and other factors such as CPU core counts. Much like Arm, Intel could set up separate licensing models for SoC designers who want Intel's various IA cores as IP blocks, or just the x86 license to design their own cores, like AMD does. Since Intel is a founding member of the UCIe alliance, it could even offer up Compute tiles as chiplets.



We're not sure how Intel traverses the web of cross-licensing with AMD behind x86-64; the company probably has a separate agreement with Sunnyvale that gives it a portion of the royalties. The opening up of x86 should have a profound impact on the computing industry, and bring big-ticket players such as NVIDIA, Samsung, and Qualcomm to design better x86 cores than Intel and AMD, and perhaps even figure out how to bring x86 to the performance/Watt levels of competing Arm cores. We expect the first contemporary non-Intel, non-AMD x86 processors to start selling by April 1, 2026.

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Massive, if true, also shows that Intel's kinda given up fighting ARM at this point! It's already been mentioned but would be interesting how AMD would allow this, since back in the day when AMD was near bankruptcy the often quoted "wisdom" was that any potential buyer would not get their x86 license as Intel wouldn't allow it ~ so in theory if that works the same for x86-64 then AMD can refuse any future competitors as well :pimp:

The bigger issue of course if that most x86 competitors these days are massively invested in ARM for too long, so to get them on the x86 train wouldn't just require free(?) licenses but also financial incentives IMO ~ like contra revenues o_O
 
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LOL so after decades of innovation stalling due to monopoly, Intel decides to open up x86 license eh
 
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And if someone innovates beyond intel they will probably steal the tech since they make it.
 
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Massive, if true, also shows that Intel's kinda given up fighting ARM at this point! It's already been mentioned but would be interesting how AMD would allow this, since back in the day when AMD was near bankruptcy the often quoted "wisdom" was that any potential buyer would not get their x86 license as Intel wouldn't allow it ~ so in theory if that works the same for x86-64 then AMD can refuse any future competitors as well :pimp:

The bigger issue of course if that most x86 competitors these days are massively invested in ARM for too long, so to get them on the x86 train wouldn't just require free(?) licenses but also financial incentives IMO ~ like contra revenues o_O
You know it's april 1st, right?
 
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The only ones with deep enough pockets to go further down this rabbit hole are the Chinese & they ain't touching this with a mile long pole! There's simply no long term upside IMO :rolleyes:

You know it's april 1st, right?
Oh come on. I only recently got a mail that I won a billion in intergalactic sweepstakes ~ you're telling me this isn't real either :slap:

Good one for sure!
 
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This is a really good thought-through prank!
It's good because it makes total sense and I'll be honest: when reading I forgot it's 1st of April... :D
 
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i wish it was true.
i dislike both AMD and Intel when it comes to CPUs.
 
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Even if this is not April 1st, it's too late to open x86. There are enough high-perf arm designs, and risk-v designs are getting faster. It takes so many years and iterations for a core design to be competitive with current intel and AMDs that no one would jump on it now. Maybe only for backcompat support, as Apple does.
 
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i remember those type CPUs all in one with cooler , my first custom pc build i made was with the intel Pentium !!! 500mhz
 
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Definitely not the april 1st prank.
Rumors and very-very obvious hints have been circling since Intel announced IFS a few years back, as an integral part of their foundry services. Though. I'm not sure if at the time it included "just licensing", e.g. selling IP to a customer for it to be manufactured elsewhere.
 
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Intel is planning to turn itself into TSMC and only make other companies’ chips. The writing has been on the wall for some time even if many here don’t want to accept it. Nowadays you can’t own so many fabs and keep them at full capacity with just your own products. There is just too much competition. And you can’t get enough fab customers because of the huge conflict of interest.

AMD divested its fabs to just design chips. Intel is doing the opposite and divesting its chip designs to just fab other companies’ chips. This is the way.

Edit: By the way, this all started back on January 9, 2007, the day the iPhone was introduced. That’s when Intel started to lose the chip design market and the rise of ARM began.

Edit: While this is an April Fool's joke, this is absolutely what's going to happen. Time will tell.
 
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Do the Intel fabs have the capacity to build chips from many clients?!
It makes some sense...but I think it's April's 1st thing.
 
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Good April Fool's joke. Not very realistic, but good for shocking a few

We expect the first contemporary non-Intel, non-AMD x86 processors to start selling by April 1, 2026.

You could make it less obvious...
 
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Too little too late...
 
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Back when your CPU looked game a concole game cartridge :D
 
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Good April Fool's joke. Not very realistic, but good for shocking a few

We expect the first contemporary non-Intel, non-AMD x86 processors to start selling by April 1, 2026.

You could make it less obvious...
At times you need the wake up call at the end for people to get the laugh ;)
 
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But could you imagine if it actually happened
 
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The giveway was "Intel realizes"...
 

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Impossible, even if it wasn't an April Fool's.

Intel owns the 32 bit part of the instruction set, AMD owns much of (all?) the 64 bit part. They cross-license and get the instruction set for free. Any 3rd party wanting in would have to pay both Intel and AMD and thus start with a huge handicap. Nope, for better or worse, the x86 market is not going to change.
 
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