Cisco is going to make chips with Intel as a foundry for one simple reason, they have to. Why they have to do so is a simple question with an equally simple answer if you have the background to understand it.
In the foundry space there are five main players, TSMC, Global Foundries, Samsung, IBM, and now Intel. From there you get to a bunch of second tier players that we will ignore for the time being. It is unlikely that a company with Cisco’s technical needs could find their fab needs met by the B-squad of the process world. Most companies that want to fab with Intel need bleeding edge process tech anyway and are willing to pay to get it.
If you had to rank these five vendors on a process quality basis it would go Intel then other with not much to choose from between the others. Each new process brings a new set of stumbles, and over time they average out to rough parity. Sometimes one is way ahead, sometimes one stumbles, but none of these are consistently ahead of the other four.
Price is a similar situation, if the numbers SemiAccurate hears that Intel is bandying about are true there are also two classes of prices. On the top it would be Intel, then a big big big gap to other. Depending on how much one of the given four are interested in a customer, prices may vary a lot.
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Disclosures: Charlie Demerjian and Stone Arch Networking Services, Inc. have no consulting relationships, investment relationships, or hold any investment positions with any of the companies mentioned in this report.
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