Intel Wants Centaur For Hybridization

Intel Wants Centaur For Hybridization

They Are On A Trip To Ponte Vecchio Together

If you watched last week’s podcast, towards the end we reported on breaking news about Intel purchasing Centaur Technology from VIA, which led to several people asking what VIA could possibly have that Intel might want.  The answer is, as usual, the knowledge of the designers and the IP that the company owns.

In this case Centaur Technology has been working for years on designing “x86-compatible processors that were cheaper and more efficient than Intel’s“, which did not work out so well for VIA who never managed to grab more than a percent or two of market share.  They did not give up however, instead they changed focus to the design of “the industry’s first high-performance deep-learning coprocessor integrated into server-class x86 processor.”

That is what Intel is interested in; an HPC coprocessor which can be added to their existing products.  Specifically, it is Ponte Vecchio, Intel’s multi-tile hybrid design which will blend a mélange of cores inside a single CPU which could benefit from Centaur’s work.  Intel has in the past stated that some of the cores included in Ponte Vecchio will not be designed by Intel, so integrating an HPC coprocessor built on non-Intel architecture would be well within scope.

We have already seen a bit of what Ponte Vecchio will offer with the launch of Xe HPC accelerators as well as Intel’s capabilities mixing different chips together in Alder Lake, which makes a launch next year very believable.  It will be interesting to see how much of Centaur’s design they can incorporate for the first generation of multi-tiled server processors.

VIA purchased Centaur in 1999 and gave it the job of developing x86-compatible processors that were cheaper and more efficient than Intel's, with the intent of breaking into the embedded systems market.

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About The Author

Jeremy Hellstrom

Call it,, or PC Perspective, Jeremy has been hanging out and then working with the gang here for years. Apart from the front page you might find him on the BOINC Forums or possibly the Fraggin' Frogs if he has the time.


  1. Tralalak

    However, the join venture Zhaoxin (VIA holds 14.75% of the shares) working to implement Centaur x86 big.cores “VIA CNS” microarchitecture into their server SoC. Kaisheng KH-40000 Series up to 32 cores (two die 64 cores) and desktop SoC. Kaixian KX-7000 Series up to 16 cores.

  2. Operandi

    So….. does VIA still retain the x86 license?

    Also, does Intel really need the IP for another co-processor? Isn’t that what Xe HPC is supposed to be for? I have a feeling Intel buying this off of VIA is to prevent it from gaining any foothold and providing long competition in the long term.

    • Jeremy Hellstrom

      No one knows. That’s normal for VIA though, they never say much until all is said and done.


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