Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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11/15/2013
08:00 AM
Jim O'Reilly
Jim O'Reilly
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Intel's Mojo Returns

Intel is finally putting together a sensible set of solutions that should bring back marketshare in emerging markets and stave off challenges in its profitable server business.

Intel has lost a lot of momentum with the ongoing weakness of the PC industry. To be fair, much of this lies on the back of Microsoft, which failed to aim Windows 8 correctly, causing the PC sales momentum to stumble badly at a time when a recession and cheap Android tablets were eroding the market.

Intel’s foray into smartphones also suffered from software issues, primarily by not supporting Android from the start. These problems resulted in the rise of the ARM chip and the decline of the desktop x86.

Still, Intel has huge resources and a pretty good sense of the issues. More to the point, Light Blue is finally putting together a sensible set of solutions that should help it bring back marketshare in emerging markets while staving off challenges in its very profitable and market-dominating server business.

Now, what do we have as serious contenders? Let’s take a look.

Quark will enable Intel to enter the embedded and wearable markets. These are really low-power chips, and they look good up against MIPS and ARM. This market is wide open, huge, and just about to take off in concert with the Ethernet of Everything.

New Atom chips solve the mobile power issues in neatly by turning functions on only when needed. ARM does this, too, but Intel claims better overall power, and in the mobile space, that’s fighting talk.

Some of those Atom chips will be built as targeted SoCs for storage and networking gear. This is important for achieving small-footprint gear in the SMB market.

Variations of the Atom are targeting the nascent microserver market, with high core counts delivering much better performance per node, and yet more SoCs.

Nvidia is opening up its intellectual property to allow its GPU cores to be built into SoCs with standard CPU cores. Nvidia plans ARM-GPU hybrids, while AMD is already shipping x86-GPU solutions. These are going to grow up, with high-powered GPUs in the mix, and it’s a fair bet that Intel is adding its own x64-GPUs to next year’s pipeline.

These units are strong contenders for big data analytics business, which is the fastest-growing IT segment. They also fit the high-performance computing market.

CPU+memory modules are expected next year. One consequence of this type of approach is that the CPU can pack in many more cores, so even x64 servers will speed up a lot.

Intel has tackled the OS issue, too. I’m sure Paul Ottelini’s parting advice was "If you can’t beat them, join them." The next generation of notebooks will be 2-in-1 and will offer the ability to be a tablet, with a keyboard attachable, and price points will be very competitive. There are even versions that can double as a monitor, with an HDMI-IN port.

But the real wizardry is these devices will run both Android and Windows, in a take from Apple a few years ago. That will allow vendors to service four markets with a single product family, and that’s a very strong statement.

All in all, Intel is tackling its demons well now. It will get a lot of respect for new ideas and new approaches, and that will get it business in all these areas. But it will take a bit of time to change the bottom line, and a recent delay of a quarter in the Broadwell XEON product isn’t beneficial while the decline of the PC appears to be accelerating.

These are indeed interesting times.

 

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virsingh211
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virsingh211,
User Rank: Strategist
11/16/2013 | 4:19:39 PM
Re: Decline of whom?
If you are really interested in CPU benchmarks, just visit the site http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html i bet you cant go through them all, i remember the news from amd house in late June 2013 when they introduced first 5Ghz processor.
aditshar
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aditshar,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/16/2013 | 3:00:41 PM
Re: Intel's course correction
@camber: You are right, i believe it was in 2009, when Intel agreed to pay AMD $1.25 billion as part of a deal to settle all outstanding legal disputes between the two companies.
aditshar
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aditshar,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/16/2013 | 2:59:29 PM
Re: Intel's course correction
I read about Intel recent annoucement wherein one of the blog says, customers can add their own IP around the core...i am little curious to understand what exactly they mean by..is it something like creating own IP orbit around...

 
Camber
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Camber,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/16/2013 | 9:52:05 AM
Re: Intel's course correction
Several years ago AMD was looked upon by a very noisy rooting section as a viable competitor to Intel whereas the naysayers retorted that Intel kept AMD around just to keep monopoly accusations from not sticking.

Also  if share price is any indicaror finally after years of flatlining INTC has shown some life, AMD on the other hand still sells for the price of a cup of coffee.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2013 | 1:35:22 AM
Re: Decline of whom?
Exactly as smart phones + tablets + laptops + desktops + workstations + data centers etc are basically all the same. The only difference I see is that across the scale mobility is the only variable (which might also disappear due to the Cloud), when mobility is restricted then productivity is increased and when mobility is unrestricted then consumption is increased, I think Jim will agree. 
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2013 | 1:18:25 AM
Re: Intel's course correction
I think both Intel and AMD are great chip manufactures that produce and have excellent design however, a few years ago when AMD's desktop chips were out classing Intel's desktops chips both in terms of performance as well as price, AMD failed to inform their customers and hence never out sold Intel, I can't recall exactly the time period but it was roughly around the time of the first gen i3. And as I see it now, Intel is also doing the same thing now and is not doing enough.

Intel's biggest competitor in emerging consumer markets is Intel itself: refurbished computer market. However this market does not produce any revenue for Intel and instead makes things worst. The consumer that is at times ill informed loses out as well when they drive up the prices of a refurbished core 2 duo above the price of a refurbished first gen i3, considering that the developed markets have at greater supply of older vs. newer, the loyal consumers still manage to push the prices up of the older. In the end, the consumer is at a lost and they have been some multinational firms wanting to just get emerging markets to ban this inefficient process but any such talk opens up a Pandora's Box as far as WTO, IMF and the likes are concerned.

So what can Intel do? Well they can lunch an Atom desktop right, no, because its price, performance and quality fell short when compared to the refurbished available equipment. It will be extremely interesting to see when and how Intel manages to firstly out price the refurbished market and then informs its customers. Interesting times!
AndrewBinstock.
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AndrewBinstock.,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2013 | 5:45:00 PM
Re: Intel's course correction
AMD is doing a lot. Much of it with integrating GPUs and CPUs and, separately, working on ARM. Their just completed conference showed lots of new technology.
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 4:09:56 PM
HIstory Repeats
To paraphrase George Santayana, those who fail to remember the lessons of Apple vs Microsoft are doomed to repeat them.  Case in point: We've watch Droid grow exponentially along with iOS over the past few years, and only recently watch Microsoft lumber into the market with a new OS, tablet, and phone strategy. 

This reminds me very much of when Microsoft launched Windows in 1985  while playing catch-up to Apple then. The first Windows was sadly lacking, but Microsoft captured 90% (or more) of the OS market for PCs by the mid-90s.

So the first version of Windows 8 was flawed. So sales of the Surface aren't soaring. So Nokia is losing money on the Windows phone.  So wait a few years...

By then, my guess is we'll all be wishing that we bought Intel stock when people were questioning its future.
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 4:00:25 PM
Re: Decline of whom?
I personally don't think the desktop will go away until desks go away -- and I don't expect that to happen.  But I do expect them to morph into something new.  I think of a desktop as a machine with a big monitor, keyboard, and mouse that stay in the office when you go home (or in the den when you watch TV).     I think it's still a desktop if you can unplug the processor and take it with you. So what if that processor just happens to be in a phone or tablet?
Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 3:56:04 PM
Re: Intel's course correction
Marilyn asks a good question about AMD.  I know Jim has been impressed with some of AMD's efforts to add memory to its processors.  Jim: what impact do you think that will have on Intel's resurgence, and is "light blue" coming out with similar designs?
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