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Intel Eyes AI Growth for Standalone Programmable Chip Unit

As Intel’s independent unit, Altera targets the booming AI market with its adaptable chips, offering distinctive solutions for AI tasks.


SAN FRANCISCO (AI Reporter/News): In a strategic move, Intel’s recently established, independent programmable chip unit, “Altera, an Intel company,” is setting its sights on the lucrative potential of artificial intelligence (AI). Executive vice president of Intel Corp. and CEO of the Programmable Solutions Group Sandra L. Rivera believes AI presents a significant growth opportunity for the newly spun-off company.

Filling the Gap

Altera specializes in creating programmable chips, which offer greater flexibility compared to fixed-function processors. Rivera sees potential in these chips for AI applications and other tasks that lie between the highly specialized custom processors used by cloud giants like Amazon and the more general-purpose AI chips offered by companies like Nvidia.

Sandra L. Rivera, Executive Vice President of Intel Corp. and CEO of the Programmable Solutions Group
Sandra L. Rivera, Executive Vice President of Intel Corp. and CEO of the Programmable Solutions Group

Niche Market Potential for Intel

With the hardware landscape for AI still evolving, Rivera sees programmable chips filling a growing niche market. “Programmable chips are always at the forefront of that innovation cycle,” she stated, emphasizing Altera’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve and facilitating smooth transitions for its customers.

Market Size Uncertainty

While the exact market size for programmable chips remains unclear due to limited data, Rivera estimates it to be significantly larger than the $8-$10 billion predicted for 2023. This growth, she explained, stems from the widespread use of programmable chips throughout various stages of the “AI workflow.”

Photos of Intel's main offices in Santa Clara, California. Source: Intel
Photos of Intel’s main offices in Santa Clara, California. Source: Intel

Manufacturing Details Unclear

The company’s current line of programmable chips, known as Agilex, is manufactured by Intel Foundry, Intel’s internal contract manufacturing arm. While Rivera declined to confirm whether Intel Foundry will produce the upcoming Agilex 3 chips, she did expect Altera to be treated “like customers” and receive preferential pricing as part of the Intel family.

An Intel spokesperson later clarified via email to Reuters that Intel Foundry’s contract manufacturing customers, including Altera, “may receive favorable pricing based on their anticipated volumes,” reflecting the close relationship between Intel’s business units.

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