Intel swallows one of its rivals for $16.7 billion

Its acquisition of Altera is now complete.

After getting the all-clear from the European Commission, Intel has wrapped up its $16.7 billion acquisition of fellow chip maker Altera. The deal is the company's biggest buyout to date, and will help it keep enterprise customers happy with faster, more complex silicon. As the Wall Street Journal explains, technology giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft currently use Intel's Xeon processors for computational work. Some, however, are bolstering them with field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) sold by Altera, which are useful because they can be reprogrammed. Intel will sell the two pieces together starting next year, but its long-term vision is to combine both onto a single chip.

That eventual hardware, Intel says, will produce dramatic speed improvements -- up to double the performance available currently, which should help companies with strenuous tasks like facial recognition (hello, Google Photos). "We'll invent new products that make amazing experiences of the future possible – experiences like autonomous driving and machine learning," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich added. The dream of a chip which merges an Intel processor and Altera circuitry is a little way off though -- the WSJ says it won't happen until 2017 at the earliest.