Ericsson is currently a major client of Intel, particularly in the realm of networking and 5G chips. Ericsson has developed its latest RAN Compute processors using the Intel 4 process node, which is also slated for use in Intel's upcoming Meteor Lake CPU. This collaboration has positioned Ericsson ahead of Intel in bringing these processors to market. The partnership aligns with Intel's IDM 2.0 strategy, aiming to establish Intel as a prominent foundry, trailing only TSMC by 2030.
This isn't the first instance of Ericsson teaming up with Intel for chip fabrication, as the companies previously announced that a future generation of 5G chips would be produced on the 18A process node expected in 2025. Although the Intel 4-fabricated processor was hinted at in February 2022, it's now been officially confirmed.
According to internal testing by Ericsson, RAN Compute chips made on the Intel 4 process node consume "30 to 60 percent less power compared to industry benchmarks." This indicates significant efficiency gains, likely attributed to the Intel 4 process node, though Ericsson's communication doesn't explicitly state this.
The new chips boast enhanced performance, with the high-capacity 6672 and 6372 processors offering four times the capacity of their predecessors. Additionally, the efficiency-focused 6678 and 6671 routers incorporate AI technology. Ericsson also emphasizes its Open RAN architecture, promoting open and interoperable networking compatible with various server chips, whether running x86, ARM, or other architectures.
In parallel, Intel has secured notable contracts including a defense company contract for 18A chips in 2021, an order from a major datacenter client for processors on the Intel 3 node in January of this year, and a deal with Arm to fabricate smartphone chips on 18A last April. This series of successes suggests promising prospects for Intel's Integrated Device Manufacturing (IDM) business. If Intel's IDM strategy continues to yield positive outcomes, it could position the company favorably in the years ahead, despite skepticism from competitors like AMD regarding its success.