Intel is investing in mobile chips

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Intel, smartphones, iot, billions

Intel has pulled out some spare change to upgrade its plant in Chengdu, in what analysts are predicting will be focused on Intel's ultra-mobile chips.  It certainly comes at an interesting time for the market, Google and Microsoft have both had recent unpleasantness with the Chinese government while Qualcomm, a direct mobile market competitor, is about to fork over what could be a record breaking settlement to Chinese anti-trust investigators.  This could make talent from Qualcomm available for Intel to hire as well as giving them even more of a financial advantage.  It marks a change in the recent trend of Intel to invest heavily in their US assets and reinforces their desire to make headway in the current ultramobile market and the burgeoning Internet of Things.  Check out the links at The Register for a bit more background on the state of this market.

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"Chipzilla has decided to take another run at the mobile chip market, announcing plans to spin as much as US$1.6 billion in the direction of its Chengdu plant in China to achieve its aims."

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December 8, 2014 | 06:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No matter Intel's investment, Apple and Nvidia have proven that the custom ARM CPUs/SOCs, along with good graphics will dominate the tablet market. CISC designs will not be able to compete with the RISC designs, and even with Intel's fabrication process node lead, Intel has trouble reaching electrical power usage parity between x86 and the custom ARMv8 ISA based competition. OEMs are not about to let themselves become trapped behind one supplier and a hard place, for a part as essential as a CPU/SOC in any mobile device, just look at the amount Intel has already spent trying to buy a seat in the marketplace, contra revenue did not work! With the foundries all beginning to close in on 14nm process nodes, and RISC designs' intrinsic low power usage, Intel has to keep at least one nodes advantage, just to keep x86 in the ballpark. It is simply foolish to ever expect one supplier of CPU/SOC parts to ever have control of the ARM based market, and do expect some competition from MIPS(RISC ISA) based processors, Imagination Technologies purchased MIPS. Intel's HD graphics on mobile devices just does not compete, and Expect Intel to be further behind on the mobile devices graphics front once Nvidia's and IT's PowerVR next generation top graphics reaches the market. Intel appears to only be trying to enter the mobile market through loss leader tactics, rather than spending time and effort truly innovating.

In the mobile market it's the OEMs that are in control with the CPU/SOC suppliers competing for the OEMs business, Intel does not appear to have changed its ways, but the mobile market is doing fine without x86 domination, and some of the Custom ARMv8 ISA based designs are beginning benchmark like Intel's i3 series CPUs. 1.6 billion over several years does not amount to much compared to what the ARM based industry spends. Qualcomm's radio technology is what allows it to have such a mobile market share in the devices market, and not so much its current CPU/SOC designs compared to Apple's and Nvidia's already released 64 bit custom SOCs, and Intel will have to compete with AMD's custom ARMV8 ISA based APU's in 2016. Yes Intel still has the PC/Laptop x86 market, but the chromecooks have made a dent for the low cost laptop market. The server market is about to become the latest battleground with the licensed Power8 server SKUs arriving in 2015, and do not forget the ARM based server market, has several new multicore ARM based server SKUs announced in the past few weeks, and AMD's skybridge pin compatible ARM/x86 SOC/CPU server SKUs with a single motherboard design able to host both x86/ARM SKUs, for more flexibility in the server room, be the workloads be x86, or ARM appropriate. Intel does not appear to be innovating in any area other than fabrication process technology. With Tyan already building power8 based motherboards for Google's Power8 based servers, and Tyan already shipping a development Power8 server system, in advanced of its Power8 servers in 2015, the Chinese market for Licensed Power8s has already started, and many of these Tyan, and other licensee's power8 systems will be arriving over the next few years, Intel will be fighting on two fronts.

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