9 Replies Latest reply on Jun 3, 2015 9:22 PM by clem57

    Intel buys Altera for $54 cash. Is this a good thing?

    clem57

      I noticed this morning on the financial news where Intel has proposed buying Altera for $54 in cash. Does this give FPGA acceptance in the broader world? Is this good or just a little nudge for this area? Let me know what you think.

      Thanks,

      Clem

        • Re: Intel buys Altera for $54 cash. Is this a good thing?
          John Beetem

          Seriously, I think it's great news... for Xilinx.  Intel has a way of buying companies or technologies and letting them wither on the vine due to lack of resources.  I've often observed the "Business Area One" or "Cash Cow" phenomenon at multiple large companies.  Basically, whichever part of the company is bringing in the most money gets to call the shots, and any upstart alternate technologies within the company get crushed or at least held back by Business Area One who sees an internal threat.  Examples include IBM 370 mainframes versus PowerPC, Microsoft Windows versus internal tablet OS work, and Intel x86 versus all of its RISC processors (Strong ARM, DEC Alpha, i432, i860, i960).

           

          The key to FPGA success is software, not silicon.  Intel is a great company when it comes to high-performance silicon.  OTOH, when I think of Intel software I think of PL/M.  The smartest thing Intel could do with Altera is to open up the bitstream format and let the open source world take over FPGA software.  Open documentation is IMO one of the most important reasons Intel processors have been so successful.  They could revolutionize FPGA software by doing the same with Altera FPGAs.  However, I really doubt they'll do it.

           

          JMO/YMMV

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            • Re: Intel buys Altera for $54 cash. Is this a good thing?
              michaelwylie

              That's an interesting point of view John. My first reaction was that if Intel played this right they could spell doom for Xilinx. I must admit, however, that I was not aware of Intel's past record.

              • Re: Intel buys Altera for $54 cash. Is this a good thing?
                mjonesvfx

                Excellent point John.  Open is what we can hope for and there has a been a large uptake in Intel's attitude toward the "makers" and open source movement in recent years with the minnowboard, edison, galileo and new low power processors design to target IOT.

                 

                Intel has huge potential to change the entrenment of FPGA technology in the current state of closed and hard.  Here's to hoping!

                 

                On the other hand it could spell price hikes and mo money for xilinx if the Altera FPGA technology is put on the back burner by intel. 

                  • Re: Intel buys Altera for $54 cash. Is this a good thing?
                    dougw

                    It certainly is an interesting move. I doubt Intel is spending $17B just to toss the tech away. Intel has some of the most impressive leading edge IC technology in the world and tightly marrying it to leading edge FPGA technology is bound to be of great concern to competitors - it is a combination nobody else comes close to.

                    I hope Intel stays focused on marketing great IC products and uses the Altera software as a means to sell more chips. This provides an excellent incentive to make the software accessible to a wider user base, because every new user automatically increases chip sales.

                    Incidentally it would seem to give Intel another avenue to allow use of ARM technology in their products. It may also provide users with better ability to embed Intel architecture in their products, which could be a way to compete with ARM's ubiquitous licensing paradigm.

                    As to whether all this is a good thing - it only depends on your perspective. Competitors will not like it, but I think it will likely be good for the industry - it should push FPGAs into new territory and force more innovation or lower prices in the rest of the industry or introduce more alternatives to ARM technology.

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