Intel Finally Gets Mobile?

Intel is selling its computers quite nicely into PCs and servers and although we are in a so called “post-PC era” people keep buying computers by the tens of millions. The long-term challenge is in-part ARM, the instruction-set architecture which is being turned into highly efficient chips used in most mobile devices.

The challenge of course for Intel is the typical one of disruption from below. An example is how RAID allowed inexpensive and less reliable hard drives to replace larger disks in the market.

Likewise, the ARMv8 64-bit architecture application profile was defined two months ago and at some point soon we will see these chips in the field. Moreover, expect them to rapidly go multicore if not initially. From a price/performance standpoint as well as in the power consumption arena we can surmise this processor to be something Intel should worry about. After all, companies like HP are known to be experimenting with ARM chips in their HPC initiatives.

The good news is Intel says they finally understand operators. More specifically, Herbert Weber, EMEA marketing director for mobile and communications at Intel, told that they finally see the differences between mobile and the PC market.

Moreover he says Intel will begin to integrate a variety of connectivity technologies into its mobile chipsets such as WiFi, GSM, GPS, LTE.

But it isn’t like companies like Broadcom haven’t been doing the same thing for many years, allowing them to grow more quickly as mobile supplier. Moreover, Intel started to integrate GPUs and WiFi onto CPU chips and motherboards many years ago – certainly this isn’t a new concept.

It is obvious the main problem Intel has keeping it from becoming a dominant mobile supplier has been and will continue to be size and power consumption and to that end Weber had this to say:

We have made significant improvements into our design and architecture and now we don’t need to hide behind anyone in terms of battery lifetime of our phones and power consumption. We are now on par with where the market is today and we intend with our next devices – the Maryville chipset going to 22nm and the next wave of chips coming in the 14nm platform – to be better than the rest of the market in terms of power and battery lifetime.

Although Intel has given up much of the mobile market its efforts in the Ultrabook space have been fantastic and in my opinion severely under-reported by the media in general. Intel finally seems to get the concept that if they don’t make more efficient chips their days will at some point be numbered. And based on my usage of a Asus UX31 Zenbook Ultrabook, I can tell you that Intel has come a long way.

In fact this powerful yet featherweight computer lets me work for about 9 hours without wireless turned on and with the screen pretty dim.

But they better keep going as Apple is likely looking for ways to switch entirely to ARM to lower its costs as it makes its own processors already for the iPhone and iPad.

There is no way to know Apple’s future plans for sure but Intel is keenly aware that the loss of the fastest market-share gaining computer platform won’t be good for its company or share price. And once we start to see these chip roll outs being released as planned, we can believe that Intel finally does really get mobile.

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