Intel Corporation Buys Virtual CPU Upstart Soft Machines [REPORT]

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Intel is in the process of buying Soft Machines Inc., a Santa Clara-based chip designer, in a deal worth $250 million, reports The Register, citing a source familiar with the matter. The Register claims that the chip making giant has been in negotiations with Soft Machines for the past 12 months and that the deal is now done.

Not a good deal for investors?

The deal, however, is not a good news for investors, who have invested around $200 million so far in funding the company, which was founded in 2006. Soft Machines was expected to become a billion-dollar startup in Silicon Valley. Apart from Intel, Chinese businesses were also hoping to form a joint venture with Soft Machines, adds The Register. As of now, there has been no comment from Intel or Soft Machines on the possible deal.

Soft Machines is known for the VISC (Variable Instruction Set Computing) processor architecture. VISC processors have several physical cores that are shown to software as virtual cores. Two or more physical cores can be fixed together to act as one virtual CPU. With the help of a translation layer that converts instructions into RISC-like VISC instructions, those virtual cores execute x86 and 32-bit and 64-bit ARMv8 code.

In 2014, Soft Machines tapped out a 500MHz 28nm prototype and had a 16nm test chip fabricated late last year. This year the company planned to show off Mojave, which is a 2GHz 2W 16nm FinFET system-on-a-chip featuring its Shasta core design. Mojave will have two physical cores that map to one or two virtual cores.

Intel on an acquisition spree

Intel has been on an acquisition spree lately. A few days ago, the chip maker announced that it is buying chip maker Movidius. The terms of the deal have not been made public yet, and the chip making giant is expected to finalize the deal later this year. On its website, Movidius noted that the Intel acquisition will allow it to roll out chips on a larger scale.

In its own press release, Intel noted that it is hoping to integrate its RealSense depth-sensing cameras with Movidius’ low-power, high-performance platform. The acquisition will strengthen the chip maker’s ability to deploy better technologies in the areas of drones, VR and even digital security cameras, said Josh Walden, an Intel SVP.

At 10:14 a.m. Eastern, Intel shares were down 0.32% at $36.33. Year to date, the stock is up almost 4%, while in the last year, it is up more than 24%.

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