Intel has completed the acquisition of rival microprocessor manufacturer Altera. The announcement concludes proceedings which have been ongoing since May 2015, and see Altera folded into the Intel business structure as a new independent unit known as the Programmable Solutions Group.
Altera will continue to build its field programmable gate arrays (FPGA), but the ultimate goal is to integrate the designs into Intel’s own family of processors. These FPGAs represent an important stepping stone for Intel in maintaining the competitive edge of its Xeon processors aimed at large enterprises.
At the moment, Intel has been simply cramming more and more transistors into a single chip; allowing it to be more powerful in general. However, many companies like Facebook and Google have been looking into adopting FPGAs because this kind of processor can be customised by the companies, allowing them to be optimised for more specific tasks.
Analysts don’t expect Intel to be able to integrate the FPGA technology into its processors yet, and the earliest we could be seeing these new Xeons would likely be in 2017; although it might take much longer.