Intel could strengthen its server product stack with Altera

Intel is in talks to acquire Altera, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal

Intel's chips dominate servers in data centers, but the possible acquisition of Altera could help the company provide a wider variety of custom chips designed to speed up specific applications, analysts said on Friday.

Intel is in talks to acquire Altera, which has a market capitalization of $10.4 billion [B], according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Intel and Altera declined to comment on negotiations or any deal.

Altera makes FPGAs, which are specialized chips that can reprogrammed to run specific tasks at much higher speeds than CPUs. Intel makes Altera's FPGAs in its factories and has also mentioned plans to use FPGAs with its server chips.

Intel's Data Center Group is the company's most profitable group, and its growing data-center product stack includes CPU, memory, networking and storage gear. But server designs are changing, and many tasks are being off-loaded to co-processors like graphics processors and FPGAs. Intel wants to keep growing in the server market, and Altera could partly fill a product gap, analysts said.

Intel wants to grow its co-processor and custom chip portfolio, and buying Altera saves them from developing FPGAs internally, said Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights and Strategy.

"It would be hard for Intel to build their own FPGA and make it competitive. They could do it, but how much time? It took them about a decade to become competitive in GPUs," Moorhead said.

Intel could license FPGA technology from Altera like it does now, but bringing the technology in-house could accelerate the release of custom server chips, Moorhead said.

Moreover, taking Altera FPGAs off the market could hurt competing server chip platforms from ARM and IBM, which are viewed as alternatives to Intel's x86 chips, Moorhead said.

Intel has been adding more capabilities to servers with its own components, and tying Altera's FPGAs to the CPU and other parts could bring more functionality to servers, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

Altera's acquisition might also have a secondary benefit to Intel's factories, which could be kept busy manufacturing FPGAs, McCarron said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags alterahardware systemsComponentsprocessorsintel

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?