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Intel, Toshiba, Samsung To Form Chip Alliance

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the teaming-up-to-fight-doritos dept.

Intel 57

Lucas123 writes "According to a report from a Japanese news agency, semi-conductor leaders Intel, Samsung and Toshiba are forming a development alliance to halve the size of chip circuitry in order to create more dense NAND flash chips and more powerful processors. The vendors would not confirm the news report, but the Nikkei Daily said they hope to reduce lithography technology from the 20 nanometer size used today to something below 10nm. The news agency also said Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry may fund up to half the project's cost, or roughly $61 million."

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Halve the size of what? (1)

Foundling (1856832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075234)

I read that "halve the size of the chip industry". Didn't they do that already when Hint and Opti left the chipset industry?

Alliance? (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075250)

Or collusion?

Re:Alliance? (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075368)

Exactly what I was thinking. Expect a lawsuit and/or trade complaint from AMD, TI and SanDisk in 3...2...1...

IBM+Toshiba+Sony = Cell (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076352)

There are all kinds of alliances going on in industry at any given moment. How is this any different?

Re:IBM+Toshiba+Sony = Cell (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077072)

Since when has merit had anything to do with someone lodging a complaint?

Re:Alliance? (3, Funny)

thermopile (571680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077210)

Oh please, please, PLEASE tell me that Hitachi is just begging to get in on this alliance.

Then, what can we call the alliance between Samsung, Hitachi, Intel, and Toshiba? I'm sure someone out there can come up with a creative acronym.

I'll start. How about "THIS"?

Re:Alliance? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077726)

This shit hits this.

Re:Alliance? (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34081312)

Ah yes... I'm expecting Fujitsu, AMD, and NEC to form a rival alliance any day now.

Re:Alliance? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077102)

As long as it looks I'm paying the half without ever areeing to it, I'd say it is a swindle.

Oh yeah? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075262)

I'm forming an alliance with Pringles, Frito-Lays and Doritos!

Re:Oh yeah? (2, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075274)

Those 3 have been conspiring in secret to fatten my ass for the last 15 years. Nothing new.

Re:Oh yeah? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075292)

mod parent -1 douchechill

Re:Oh yeah? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075296)

Those 3 have been conspiring in secret to fatten my ass for the last 15 years.

Their considerable success in that project bodes well for this new effort.

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075414)

Those 3 have been conspiring in secret to thin my wallet for the last 15 years. Nothing new.

That's probably what you wanted to say . . .

Re:Oh yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34076288)

You do know that Frito-Lay owns the Doritos brand anyways.... right?

And a side-deal? (3, Interesting)

sosaited (1925622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075266)

An alliance of this sort most probably also means some price fixing deals already on the table. But if we get some decent capacity SSD's for reasonable price a bit sooner, for a few bucks more, I think its worth it.

Re:And a side-deal? (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076620)

An alliance of this sort most probably also means some price fixing deals already on the table. But if we get some decent capacity SSD's for reasonable price a bit sooner, for a few bucks more, I think its worth it.

Maybe. For <10nm MLC flash, I'd be impressed if the thing still has data on it by the end of the day...

How fab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075268)

I, for one, welcome out new chip fabrication overlords.

doobietoker (1)

doobietoker (1931918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075306)

Going deeper submicron is all well and good, but it doesn't mean much to the place where I work. We're a MIPS house and can't use Atom. But there's chatter around the cubes about Atom getting a badly needed facelift, licensing an encryption CPU from some startup in Europe and maybe making Atom synthesizable - could affect us big time if Intel finally gets serious about embedded.

embedded x86 (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 3 years ago | (#34078964)

You want to embed x86?

For real?

Seriously?

You're not just joking?

Re:embedded x86 (1)

doobietoker (1931918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34083484)

Not kidding in the slightest - any kind of synthesizable embedded CPU that could support x86 ISA would be HUGE. I've been hearing for a good 6 months now about Intel getting serious about embedded to stay competitive, and maybe buying MIPS or ARM. If they're going on a spending spree in 2011 and buy an embedded RISC house, that would impact us in a big, big way. The RISC approach will consume lots less power than Atom, and if they could add better HW security too (maybe the Europe startup?), they would become a 'real' embedded player.

Halve, or quarter the size? (4, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075388)

they hope to reduce lithography technology from the 20 nanometer size used today to something below 10nm

Wouldn't this allow quartering the size, since you have this halving in both dimensions?

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (2, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075434)

Whenever it comes to this kind of thing, it's always left ambiguous. I find that generally when people (even professionals) speak of 'half the size', they could mean in length, area, or volume (where applicable). Each of those of course gives entirely different results.

I think personally the best idea is to use the highest dimension for the application. For example, when speaking of a 3D object, half the size would mean half the volume. Unfortunately, things like DPI don't work like that.

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076028)

Let's see... "Engineers are hard at work on new monitors with half the DPI of current monitors." Yeah, I see what you mean!

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076210)

Let's see... "Engineers are hard at work on new monitors with half the DPI of current monitors." Yeah, I see what you mean!

Let me see... "Indian Engineers are hard at work on new Chinese monitors with half the DPI of current Mexican monitors." Yeah, I see what you mean!
There, fixed that for ya!

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076556)

No matter what nationalities you use, it doesn't make sense to work on monitors with half the DPI of current monitors, does it?

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34080090)

No matter what nationalities you use, it doesn't make sense to work on monitors with half the DPI of current monitors, does it?

Of course it does. $$$$$

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34081558)

Half the DPI? You think someone wants 40 DPI monitors? Hey, the 80s called and they want their 40 DPI monitors back!

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34083200)

Half the DPI? You think someone wants 40 DPI monitors? Hey, the 80s called and they want their 40 DPI monitors back!

Of course it does, twice the monitors at twice the price. $$$$$ $$$$$

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (2, Informative)

lordmetroid (708723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076268)

The size reffers to the length between transistors.

Re:Halve, or quarter the size? (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34078426)

Ha, screw that, we're halving our chips in the time dimension!

It's about time (1)

todrules (882424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075394)

Yes! It's about time somebody formed their own chip alliance and stood up to Frito-Lay!

Steve Jobs laughs derisively (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075418)

at puny attempt of competitors to create so called 'alliance.' Nothing can beat the mighty Apple! HA! Ha! Ha ha ha ha!!!!

Re:Steve Jobs laughs derisively (1)

entotre (1929174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075468)

They should throw in a software company for a more potent mixture.

Re:Steve Jobs laughs derisively (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34078422)

Clearly they formed this alliance to compete with the mighty Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance [wikimedia.org] .

Intel at it again... (4, Interesting)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075438)

Intel is starting to feel the heat from ARM. Sooner than later datacenters will be running on ARM processors, and doing the same work per time unit at a fraction of the power cost.

This is a new market that they wish to stomp on before it can get started.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075464)

Bingo! Intel has nowhere to grow right except though embedded processors. And ARM stands in their way. ARM will be tough to beat, not only because of their low power designs, but the way their licensing works. You can turn your business over to Intel, or you can keep it inhouse via ARM.

Re:Intel at it again... (2, Interesting)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076172)

There is a certain amount of irony in all of this. When RISC was invented it was suppose to displace CISC because of better performance due to a more efficient architecture that used fewer gates. INTEL, AMD and other i86 vendors were able to fight back by using RISC internally in their micro-architectures. This succeeded because of the standardization and network effect based around the generic i86 platform. For example, the MIPS CPU and Sun's SPARC never succeeded on the desk top once the price performance of the i86 got good enough.

So now INTEL and the i86 are facing intrusion from the bottom, because the ARM cpu is a RISC design that provides better performance due to a more efficient architecture with fewer gates AT LOW POWER CONSUMPTION. Finally there is a situation where the superior characteristics of RISC will win because a CISC cpu cannot compete. Power usage is the Achilles heal of the CISC design.

The only thing that the ARM lacks to become dominant in the sever room, and even in supercomputing is a 64 bit variant. With multi-cores and 64 bits power usage will be the deciding factor. Any guesses when this will happen?

Re:Intel at it again... (2, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076472)

So now INTEL and the i86 are facing intrusion from the bottom, because the ARM cpu is a RISC design that provides better performance due to a more efficient architecture with fewer gates AT LOW POWER CONSUMPTION.

What are you talking about? ARM provides lower performance at lower power consumption.

I work on high performance clusters (usually SGE/ROCKS not Beowulf, sorry guys) dedicated to physical and biological simulations and there is just no chance the ARM is taking over. We are pushing the bounds of our chips (all Nehalem-based Xeons) already, going to back to PIII-era performance would be a huge setback. There's just not a lot of competition with superscalar out-of-order x86-64, although specialized machines are really cool.

Oh, and for those that say just use more of the lower-power chips, efficient parallelization is really ****ing hard, even in the simulation world. We routinely push the latency bounds of our interconnects (infiniband, usually) when farming out even large jobs. Telling my boss that we can achieve some power savings at the cost of buying 4x more expensive networking gear is going to lead to either a hearty laugh or a pink slip (or both!).

Re:Intel at it again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34076918)

No competition with x64? What about POWER7, which is currently the fastest general-purpose processor on the market (Niagara doesn't count)? What about the NEC vector machines, which are still by far the fastest systems per processor for HPC? Hell, even Itanium delivers great results if you give it enough sockets.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

TheTrueScotsman (1191887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34079938)

POWER7 is too expensive, NEC is nowhere in the (software) market, and what did you say about Itanium...?

Re:Intel at it again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34077190)

This may be all well and good but that market ain't what Intel is concerned about -

For every cpu that goes into one of your systems hundreds, possibly thousands go into server farms for web or other business services. There speed isn't the only deciding factor.

Re:Intel at it again... (2, Interesting)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077600)

Oooh, I must have hit a nerve. First, read what I said:

the ARM cpu is a RISC design that provides better performance due to a more efficient architecture with fewer gates AT LOW POWER CONSUMPTION.

The key word here is efficient. Specifically I am talking about operations per watt. If some combination of heat dissipation and cost to run the system are limiting factors, then this kind of efficiency is important.

I am not the only one who thinks this way. IBM has also made a system that chose lower power CPUs to build a supercomputer: the Blue Gene/L. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Gene#Major_features [wikipedia.org] To quote the article "Trading the speed of processors for lower power consumption." This machine had two Power PC cores per node, which each being a 700 MHz PPC 440, not exactly a screaming demon of a CPU. The upgrade, the Blue Gene/P has four 850 MHz PPC processors per node. Still not blindingly fast. The next version, the Q model, out sometime soon, will continue to use even more relative low speed processors, "1.6 million processor cores" according to the article.

I can't immediately find the details online, but I think that the reason that there were so many AMD based supercomputers at one point was that the AMD CPUs, even though they were slower then the competing INTEL units, were more efficient in flops per watt.

So I will restate what I said in the original post in more detail. I think that people will start using ARM processors in server rooms in the near term. This is a no brainer. Also, someone will extend the ARM to handle 64 bit data paths, including 64 bit floating point. When that happens, ARM chips will be used to make supercomputers. Because they are IP can can be customized at the silicon level, in supercomputing multiple CPUs will be on a chip that includes some of the inter-processor communications hardware. It will be very hard for the i86 architecture to compete because it is a CISC, not a RISC.

I hope this clears it up for you.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

TheTrueScotsman (1191887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34080010)

There's not even the slightest chance that ARM will compete with X64 in servers in the medium term. Your fundamental argument ("it's CISC, not RISC") becomes ever more irrelevant withe each ML cycle since the CISC overhead is a constant (rather than a proportional) factor of the total number of transistors.

I love my Nexus One too, but there are limits.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34090580)

The key word here is efficient. Specifically I am talking about operations per watt. If some combination of heat dissipation and cost to run the system are limiting factors, then this kind of efficiency is important.

But in the HPC world, the real limiting factor is the interconnect and the software interface. The interconnect latency determines how large of a job can finish in reasonable time, and is a fixed (high) cost per CPU. Meanwhile the software interface determines what off-the-shelf software will work with minimal investment. It's not worth spending programmer ($100k/year) or even graduate student ($40k/yr) time chasing a few watts when you have funding agencies expecting actual scientific results in the next quarterly review.

BTW, those custom supercomputers are neat and get to set records running highly specialized (and massively expensive in terms of programmer-hours), but look at https://www.teragrid.org/web/user-support/compute_resources [teragrid.org] and tell me how many TFLOPs are provided by x64 machines and how many are PowerPC and other weirdos.

TLDR: When you are pushing FLOPs, x64 (Intel and AMD alike) is king because it provides the most power per CPU. We care about watts, but don't want to screw either our scaling or networking-gear-budget.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077914)

In parallel applications the total performance per watt, among all ores, is what counts. Today, you can take a number of ARMs and equal the performance of the intel solution at a lower total wattage.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34078514)

INTEL, AMD and other i86 vendors were able to fight back by using RISC internally in their micro-architectures

This is a massive oversimplification. RISC and CISC chips used similar execution units, but RISC had simpler instruction decoders. With early RISC chips, this was a significant advantage because the instruction decoder took up an appreciable fraction of the die area and it meant that, with the same transistor budget, RISC chips could have a lot more execution units.

This advantage became less pronounced over time, because the space needed for the instruction decoder was fairly constant, while the total transistor budget for chips doubled every year or two. While an early CISC chip might have had 50% of its area devoted to the decoder, a modern one uses less than 10%.

To make matters worse, the variable-length instruction encoding used by CISC chips meant that programs were smaller. This was not an important advantage early on, but it became one when memory access became a bottleneck. RISC chips had to devote more transistors to instruction cache, and this offset the advantage of the decoder.

With ARM, the situation is different. First, they compete in a market where power consumption is very important. The instruction decoder is one of the bits of a chip that can't easily be turned off. You can power down execution units that are not in use, but the instruction decoder needs to be used every time an instruction is fetched, irrespective of the type of instruction. Because the ARM instruction decoder is simpler, it uses less power. Some new Xeon chips cache decoded micro-ops and power down the x86 decoder, but they still need a simple decoder (for dispatching the micro-ops) to be powered up, and this is about as complex as an ARM decoder.

To make matters worse for Intel, ARM chips come with several instruction sets. The thumb 2 instruction set is very dense, but slightly slower than ARM. Code can mix these instruction sets, both of which are easy to decode and the chip can switch off the decoder for whichever is not in use. ARM chips don't have the decoder complexity of RISC chips, but still have good instruction density. Because they control the bottom end of the market, they have economies of scale to match Intel, which also helps.

That said, this announcement is completely irrelevant to ARM. It is about fabrication techniques for flash memory, which is not a market that ARM is in at all.

Re:Intel at it again... (2, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34078138)

Intel is starting to feel the heat from ARM.

Wait, I thought heat comes from Intel, not from ARM.

Re:Intel at it again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34078178)

Although right now Qualcomm and TI seem to lead the state of the art in ARM based implementations to a small degree.... Do you, or anyone else in this thread realize that Intel was the developer and seller of what was at the time the most advanced line of ARM implementations? They sold this business to Marvell... willingly. Was this a stupid move? According to the armchair CEOs on slashdot, apparently it was.

Re:Intel at it again... (1)

doobietoker (1931918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34084776)

No way to 'stomp' on it - embedded is bigger than PC and has been for a couple of years. So if Intel wants to fight ARM, they need to one or more of the following: 1. Make a 'synthesizable', power efficient Atom. I don't think they can do much about the power unless they completely recraft it, and then who knows what happens to x86 legacy apps. 2. Buy ARM, if they can afford it. 3. Buy MIPS, like I've been hearing for a while now. 4. Build up the sexiness of Atom with things like enhanced security (that's become kind of a hot button for us.) This might be the Europe outfit that's rumored to have the goods - called Iunika, in Madrid (wow! How cool is that?): http://www.mips.com/news-events/newsroom/newsindex/index.dot?id=27937 [mips.com] Maybe this Iunika bunch is using MIPS for an MCU to run encryption for laptops? That wraps it all up - Intel needs a real embedded play and buys MIPS, and makes its embedded more appealing with the iunika security code.

Intel 3 Samsung? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075716)

This report from Nikkei seems to go against recent actions...

1. Intel has a partnership with Micron to design and produce NAND flash chips. You would think terms in that contract would exclude any partnerships with direct competitors.
2. Intel is a member of ONFI (open nand flash interface) along with Micron, but Samsung is not.
3. Intel recently joined a newly formed alliance similar to define a standard for SSD interfaces. Again, Micron is also a member and Samsung is not.

But who knows, maybe Intel would partner up with a company who has been stealing business form them left and right lately.

3 Giants and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075834)

they want government funding of up to 61 milion?

Ummm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075854)

I frankly don't like Intel. I think it's totally over-rated and doesn't deliver speedwise. I can't see what good will come from this apart from price control and other anti-competitive issues.

Oh no (1)

edcs (1931354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34075862)

Here's hoping Foxconn doesn't start the Chip Entente and start the First Nerd War.

alliance == cartel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34075880)

They anounce that our pockets will be milked. So no one can say that nobody warned about.

Do you want to form an alliance with me? (1)

MintOreo (1849326) | more than 3 years ago | (#34076896)

Absolutely I do.

Samsung is also a member of the ... (1)

Sehnsucht (17643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34078414)

Common Platform Alliance - IBM, Global Foundries (you know, the former fabs of AMD), Samsung. Chartered, now part of Global Foundries, was a member too.

So, Samsung must be giving some kind of assurances to Intel they're not going to let ideas and techniques spill over into the Common Platform Alliance...

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