Intel has completed its $16.7 billion acquisition of competing chip maker Altera. The deal, wrapped up after the chip maker got the OK from the European Commission, is the company’s biggest buyout to date.
The Altera grab will help keep enterprise customers satisfied, as it will allow Intel to create more complex, faster silicon for their needs. Altera sells field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), which can be reprogrammed. Intel will sell the two alongside its popular Xeon processors starting in 2016, but its long-term vision is to combine both products onto a single chip.
The resulting silicon could produce dramatic speed improvements, up to double the performance of currently available chips. The company expects customers such as Google and Facebook to make use of the improved chips to help with processor intensive operations such as Google Photos’ facial recognition feature.
“We’ll invent new products that make amazing experiences of the future possible – experiences like autonomous driving and machine learning,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said.
Altera will operate as a new business unit called the Programmable Solutions Group (PSG), led by Altera veteran Dan McNamara. Customers shouldn’t expect immediate availability of the combined Intel/Altera chips, as the earliest a combined processor could be available is some time in 2017.