Intel's Post-PC Strategy: 4 Takeaways

From wearable technology to $100 tablets to city infrastructure, Intel plans to puts its chips in almost everything. And Moore's Law lives.

Michael Endler, Associate Editor,

September 11, 2013

3 Min Read

2. Intel still believes in PCs.

The PC market's decline has contributed to Intel's recent struggles, but the company still sees room for innovation. Its fourth-generation – a.k.a. Haswell -- Core processor began shipping in new products over the summer, and it has delivered substantial battery life improvements. Apple's Haswell-based MacBook Air can run for up to 12 hours without a recharge, and Microsoft is expected to launch a Haswell-equipped Surface with at least seven hours of battery life.

But Krazanich repeatedly stressed that such advancements "aren't good enough"-- and the slow market seems to agree. The CEO said Intel has another Haswell variant coming, called Haswell Y, that will consume only 4.5 W of power, low enough to build a fanless Core i7 notebook.

Krazanich said Intel will soon bring its next-generation Broadwell chip to market, and that it will improve power consumption by 30% relative to today's Haswell models. The implication is that laptops will soon be as lightweight and battery-efficient as any tablet, and that powerful tablets could be better served by a Broadwell chip than an ARM one.

Haswell is based on a 22-nanometer manufacturing process, but Broadwell will move to a 14-nm process, which will drive its efficiency. Krazanich demonstrated a functioning Broadwell-based laptop during his IDF presentation.

3. Intel is gearing up to fight in mobile.

Intel's Atom processors are currently also-rans in the mobile race, but Krazanich said devices with its new Bay Trail Atom chip will be on sale by the end of the year, and that both Android and Windows 8 models will be available. Like the Haswell Core processors, Bay Trail will use Intel's 22-nm process, which Krazanich said will deliver longer battery life and 50% better performance. The CEO also said that Intel smartphones will soon boast LTE support with carrier aggregation, which will enable data transfers up to a blazing 150 Mbps.

Even if Intel is successful, though, it will face questions. Mobile devices earn lower margins than PCs, for example, which means Intel can't simply replace Core shipments with Atom shipments; rather, the company will need to ship higher volumes than in the past.

Krazanich said an Atom chip based on the 14-nm process will be out by the end of 2014. He also said that Intel-based tablets will soon cost less than $100. Presumably, he was referring to Android tablets, though Windows 8 slates should be more affordable as well.

4. Intel doesn't believe Moore's Law is dead.

Intel president Renée James quipped at IDF that the demise of Moore's Law has been predicted for decades. But as Intel's current dive into 22nm and 14nm processes might suggests, Moore's Law is "alive and well," she said. Krazanich repeatedly mentioned the superiority of Intel's manufacturing processes, and said the company projects it will produce 10-nm chips in 2015 and 7-nm chips in 2017. A recent keynote speaker at the Hot Chip conference at Stanford University predicted Moore's Law will finally wind down by 2022, which supports Intel's claim that several more generations of improvement are in the pipeline. The question in at least the short term, though, is whether Intel can leverage its manufacturing prowess to get back in the mobile game.

About the Author(s)

Michael Endler

Associate Editor,

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 and, pending the completion of a long-gestating thesis, will hold an MA in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State.

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