Rockchip to Design Intel x86 “SoFIA” SoCs for Android Tablets

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Intel has just announced it has entered into a strategic agreement with Rockchip to design Intel-branded SoC platform for entry-level Android tablets. The Chinese SoC vendor will design two quad core tablet SoC one with 3G and one with LTE, which will part of Intel’s SoFIA mobile SoC platforms for Android mobile devices.

Intel_Rockchip

Intel will bring Intel Atom and 3G/LTE modem IP, and Rockchip will work in the integration and overall design. The 3G model should become available in the first half of 2015 and target entry-level and value tablets, and the LTE version is also scheduled for H1 2015. That’s about all that’s been disclosed for now, and we don’t know for example which GPU will be part of these SoCs.

Here’s what Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, had to say about the agreement:

The strategic agreement with Rockchip is an example of Intel’s commitment to take pragmatic and different approaches to grow our presence in the global mobile market by more quickly delivering a broader portfolio of Intel architecture and communications technology solutions. We are excited to work with Rockchip. With today’s announcement we’ve added yet another derivative to the Intel SoFIA family, and we expect to have them all in market before the middle of 2015. We are moving with velocity to grow Intel’s offerings for the growing global tablet market.

and Min Li, Rockchip CEO, said:

We are always looking for innovative ways to differentiate our product portfolio, and the first-of-its-kind collaboration with Intel helps us do this. The combination of Intel’s leading architecture and modem technology with our leading mobile design capability brings greater choice to the growing global market for mobile devices in the entry and value segments.

There are now three SoCs part of Intel SoFIA family, a dual-core 3G version designed by Intel, and expected to ship in Q4 2014, and the two aforementioned quad core processor designed by Rockchip, but to be sold under the Intel brand. However both companies will be able to sell the quad core SoCs to their respective customers.

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The Cageybee
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The Cageybee

This really is weird. Intel seems to be bringing all the IP to the table so I can’t see what Rockchips role will be. The only IP I can think of that they own outright would be their video decoding IP as the other main parts of their chips are ARM IP (CPU,GPU).
So what are Rockchip bringing to the table? Is it just their layout/chip design expertise? Seems strange as it would be tantamount to intel say that their really a bit crap at it. Plus, you have thought that Intel had much more experience at that sort of thing.
Strange days indeed!

davidlt
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davidlt

@The Cageybee
According to semiaccurate: For its part Rockchip will be contributing the graphics, I/O, and market specific IP need to make this chips a success in the extremely cost sensitive Chinese tablet market.

eas
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@The Cageybee Rockchip will be doing what they’ve done with ARM — tailoring SoCs to market niches.

Someone from the other side
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Someone from the other side

According to semiaccurate: For its part Rockchip will be contributing the graphics, I/O, and market specific IP need to make this chips a success in the extremely cost sensitive Chinese tablet market.

Rockchip has graphics IP? I thought they simply recycle whatever comes from ARM or Imagination… Ah, might have a VPU somewhere. Actually, what I think this really means is that Rockchip acts as some sort of sales channel?

Harley
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Harley

Strange that Intel which is probably the most open source friendly companies out there decided to partner with Rockchip which one of the least open source friendly companies out there.

Wonder if this also means that Intel will influence Rockchip into becoming more open source friendly with their device drivers, libraries, and kernel modules?

The Cageybee
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The Cageybee

@davidlt
I’d take that semiaccurate article with a large pinch of salt. Rockchip don’t own any graphics IP. Plus their only experience of graphics, 3d at least, is taking ARMs mali and connecting it to an ARM cpu over an ARM specific bus. Plus they probably had help with that from ARM as they offer support with that sort of thing when you buy a licence.

As for I/O, Intel have way more experience of that sort of stuff plus the number of their engineers probably dwarfs Rockchips. It’s pretty simple stuff anyway.

Market specific IP, what does that mean anyway? The only market specific IP there could be would be mobile comms which Rockchip don’t own any IP or have experience of integrating into a chip die. From what I’m aware anyway.

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