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This announcement will have a long-lasting impact on the entire semiconductor industry. Intel must fabricate chips for its competitors to grow its foundry business, and is investing in the emerging RISC-V market as the catalyst. Intel competitors Andes Technology, Esperanto Technologies, SiFive and Ventana Micro are now early partners.

Back in 2006, Intel decided to abandon the company’s Arm-based CPU development project, selling the XScale PXA technology to Marvell Technology Group for some $600M. The thinking then was that the x86 architecture would form the cornerstone of all Intel processor designs, a strategy which served the company well for over a decade. But now, Intel sees increasing competition from AMD as well as Arm-based chips from scores of companies, and needs more customers to fill its multi-billion dollar fab facilities.

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