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Lilliputian joins Intel fab family

Rumours that Intel is branching out as a fab-for-hire have been further fuelled by the announcement that a second start-up company is using the chip giant's state-of-the-art facilities to manufacture silicon wafers.

Lillipution Systems - which makes scarily explosive-sounding, but apparently perfectly safe battery replacements fuelled by butane capsules - announced yesterday that it has signed a wafer manufacturing and supply agreement with Intel.

The tiny company also mentioned in passing that the chip-making behemoth has snapped up and equity stake in the innovative outfit.

“Intel recognises that portable power solutions will be essential to consumer electronics devices and is committed to manufacturing Lilliputian’s technology,” said Intels' Brian Krzanich. “We’re pleased to work with such an exciting company with strong technology, an experienced team and blue chip investors and look forward to helping bring the Silicon Power Cell technology and the USB MPS product to market.”

Lilliputian is only the second company to openly declare that it is using Intel's fabs after a similar announcement from Achronix last week.

There are, however, strong rumours that Intel is secretly churning out silicon for a number of other companies and is increasingly offering out its services as a fab-for-hire under a blanket of anonymity.

Intel is currently splashing around its cash, its Capital arm having invested more than $77 million in small companies from 11 different countries this week, though it's not clear how many of those will be helping to keep the production lines running at full tilt.