Ronnie05's Blog

The future computer is only a miniature – and Intel shows how. Enter Edison

Posted in Sensor networks and devices by Manas Ganguly on January 10, 2014

A computer that is “not bigger than an SD card” is Intel’s latest attempt to get into the new world of wearable computers. Edison which packs the SoC Quark, looks smart enough for the job.Basically, the Edison is a miniature computer in the form factor of an SD card. The tiny 400MHz computer is built on the company’s 22nm transistor technology, runs Linux and has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth modules. What’s more, the tiny machine can connect to its own app store. It will cost $199 in the US (about £120) and includes three onesies, a Turtle and a device that functions as a charging station.

intel

To get the eco-system enthused, Intel also reported the first eco-system of devices, technologies using the Edison – a small collection of “Nursery 2.0” products using embedded Edison chips: a toy frog that reports an infant’s vitals to a parent via an LED coffee cup, for example, and a milk warmer that starts heating when another connected item (the frog, again) hears the baby cry.Intel has also announced the “Make it Wearable” competition for developers, and says it will be offering up to $1.3 million in prizes for developers churning out wearable tech.

Nice and smart start. Would this be good for Intel to stay ahead in the chase and race for wearables? We shall see..

Tagged with: , , ,

Intel tries to diversify as smartphones and tablets have no need for its processors

Posted in Industry updates, Sensor networks and devices by Manas Ganguly on January 8, 2014

Declassifying Inte’s future plans from the CEO’s CES key note address

Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich will take the stage at the International Consumer Electronics Show with the message that the chipmaker will do what it takes to remain relevant as consumers switch to mobile devices for computing tasks.

Krzanich, who will make a keynote presentation at the trade show in Las Vegas, is set to feature a first public showing of some of the mobile and wearable technology from Intel’s New Devices division, led by former Apple executive Mike Bell. Krzanich could also emphasise how Intel has accelerated the pace at which it brings new products to market.

The world’s largest chipmaker, which dominates the market for semiconductors that run traditional computers, is seeking to branch out as consumers increasingly use smartphones and tablets that don’t contain Intel processors. With the personal-computer market forecast to decline for a third consecutive year and Intel failing to win significant market share in phones, Krzanich is working to ensure that the company doesn’t miss new opportunities such as wearable devices and other personal technology.

“PCs are slowing so you have to offset that with something else,” said Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners in New York.

Intel Insular

The Santa Clara, California-based company, which Krzanich took over in May, remains heavily dependent on servers and PCs. Intel has more than 80% of the market for PC processors and more than 95% share in server chips, according to researcher IDC. In November, the company forecast that sales will be about the same as the $52.6 billion it will report for 2013, below the $53.7 billion analysts were projecting.

Since becoming CEO, Krzanich, a former semiconductor factory manager, has taken steps to diversify Intel’s business. He has said Intel will focus on providing what the market wants in chips rather than following the company’s traditional method of designing and producing products aimed at determining the direction of technology. In addition, the company’s plants, which Intel says are the industry’s most advanced, may produce chips for rivals, he said.

“However the market moves, wherever the compute need is, we want our products to do it best,” Krzanich said at a meeting at the company’s headquarters. “We’d become insular. We’d become focused on what was our best product rather than where the market was moving.”

Listen to the Market

The 53-year-old also has said he’s speeding up the time it takes from design to production of new chips and concentrating efforts on lower-power products. Intel has a new processor called Quark, which it’s trying to get into everything from household appliances to industrial equipment.

Krzanich’s openness to producing chips for other companies and to listening to what his customers want is a departure from predecessor Paul Otellini, who had said smartphones and tablets wouldn’t replace PC, says Stacy Rasgon, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein & Co. “They had their head in the sand,” said Rasgon. “Their push now is to make sure they don’t get blindsided again.”

The CEO, who like his five predecessors was an internal appointment, may need to go further to make what Intel produces central again. While wearable devices could become the next billion-unit market, according to Rasgon, Intel isn’t fast enough at rolling out new products.

Wang said Intel’s factories might be its best bet for getting into new markets. The company will spend $11 billion this year on plants and equipment to maintain its lead in transistor technology. Intel said it is more than a year ahead of competitors in the manufacturing of the fundamental component of all semiconductors.

To participate in the market for smartwatches, glasses and the internet of things, where Intel has no track record in designing chips that are better than alternatives, the company should open its factories to rivals such as Qualcomm, which are more likely to win, said Wang. But that’s a step further than Krzanich may be ready to take.

Reported from Economic Times Article under the topic: CEP Chips in with Intel everywhere

Smartphone Application Processors Update: Strategy Analytics

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on October 18, 2013

The global smartphone applications processor market continued to show strength and grew 44 percent year-on-year to reach $4.4 billion in Q2 2013, according to the Strategy Analytics. Qualcomm, Apple, MediaTek, Samsung and Spreadtrum captured the top-five revenue share spots in the smartphone processor market in Q2 2013. Qualcomm maintained its dominance in the smartphone applications processor market with 53 percent revenue share followed by Apple with 15 percent share and MediaTek with 11 percent share in Q2 2013.

Multi-core processors accounted for around 66 percent of all smartphone apps processor shipments in 1H 2013, up from 40 percent in 1H 2012. Quad-core smartphone applications processor shipments registered five-fold growth in 1H 2013 compared to 1H 2012, while single-core smartphone applications processor shipments declined by 14 percent in the same period. Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, MediaTek and ST-Ericsson captured top-five volume share spots in the smartphone multi-core applications processor market in 1H 2013.

Low-cost suppliers MediaTek and Spreadtrum together captured over one-third volume share in the smartphone applications processor market in Q2 2013, thanks to the smartphone boom in emerging markets. MediaTek and Spreadtrum’s improving global footprint coupled with their maturing product portfolio could spell a threat to global players such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, NVIDIA and Intel.

Qualcomm maintained its dominance in the smartphone applications processor market helped by its LTE leadership. After a successful run with its Snapdragon 600 family of chips in the first half of 2013, Qualcomm is well-positioned to repeat it in the second half with its flagship Snapdragon 800 family of chips

Why Intel doesnot inspire any much confidence any more?

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Computing, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 7, 2013

photo

As tablets continue to pound on Laptop and Netbook segments – and the Laptop/Netbook segment is at best projected to be stagnant if not decreasing in terms of y-o-y shipments it is difficult to harbor any significant optimism about Intel. Intel has been trying to migrate its business to the Handhelds given the impending fall of the Wintel Franchise. It is clearly trying to move away from the Wintel Monogamy to separate alliances with Android, Samsung (Tizen) apart from the Windows Phone platform. However, creating a platform with meaningful revenue stream to replace its Wintel franchise is a long shot – something it has not been able to do for a very long time.

Highlights of Intel’s Performance
Full-Year 2012 Key Financial Information and Business Unit Trends
Full-year revenue of $53.3 billion for FY2012
PC Client Group had revenue of $34.3 billion, down 3 percent from 2011.
Data Center Group had revenue of $10.7 billion, up 6 percent from 2011.
Other Intel architecture group had revenue of $4.4 billion, down 13 percent from 2011.
Gross margin of 58% not broken down by group.

I am listing out a few thoughts on the Intel prospects going forward-

1. Intel Versus Qualcomm: Qualcomm with its leadership of the mobile space is possibly Intel’s biggest competitor in the mobile space. What works for Qualcomm is its economies of scale – hence allowing it to price itself very suitably. Intel chips in its current state would be 5X costlier than Qualcomm.
2. Intel’s specialty was the Windows platform and its complete monopoly. I don’t think they can repeat the same success with Google’s Android because the spots are already taken.
3. The low end growth in volumes will be typically driven in low price markets such as India, SE Asia. In this segment, there are pretty strong guerillas such as MTK, Allwinner and even Qualcomm has a spot of bother targeting these segments
• The problem with these markets is that none of them seems to offer the kind of margins that Intel has become accustomed to–even *if* Intel is successful in those markets
4. Either in terms of competing with Qualcomm or finding new markets, If Intel was to beat the market by considerably pricing itself lower (assuming very high volumes) – it would impact its profit margins dearly.
5. Intel has been innovating at the high end of the market. Thus, the cleverness that has gone into Intel’s current generation of high-end processors is simply stunning, but the market that benefits from that cleverness, and the margin that goes with it, is disappearing.
6. The only saving grace to this equation could be Microsoft – but the platform had its share of problems with Windows 8 and I am not sure if Windows Blue can reverse the tide.
7. Intel’s share of the server markets is also under threat with the ARM architecture and Atom like low margin chips being purported to be lopping off a big chunk of the server markets in near future. The driver is the cost of electricity and of cooling data centers. (Low power rules)
8. The third of Intel’s strengths – high-reliability enterprise computing and high-end analytics for business or national security applications is also moving the IBM way. IBM doesnot make any profits on its processors – its makes it dough from the services.

Finally, from cumulative experience of high end technology industry – any incumbent Goliath who missed one technology cycle – cannot by any means play catch up unless it re-invents the whole industry yet again. Intel doesnot have to look too far – beyond Microsoft – to learn missing out a technology cycle and losing the plot.

The 2012 Intel Results
09082013

Windows 8: Microsoft’s bet into the computing future

Posted in Mobile Computing, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 30, 2011

What do we make about Windows 8, Microsoft’s biggest Windows refresh since Windows 95. Back then Computers cost a fortune and now… Now, Microsoft wants to update Windows for a consumer technology world that is obsessed with online services and touch-centric devices such as the iPad and Android smartphones.

Here are the 9 features that define the Windows 8 OS, Windows’ bet into the future of computing: Tablets and Smartphones-

• Windows 8 is designed with smartphones and tablets in mind and would run on ARM as well as Intel processors

• It is expected to be designed ground up for the touch interface. Windows 8’s new start screen has large panels that are ideal for touch-screens, but that also can be manipulated by a mouse

• Windows 8 will also have an Apple styled App store

• Windows 8 is expected to drive higher level of service integration between the desktop (Tablet or the smartphone) and Windows online services such as Skydrive, Office 365 and free Office Web Apps

• Expected to support USB 3.0. The USB 3.0 helps with data transfer speeds that are up to 10 times faster than the current USB 2.0 standard, and USB 3.0 also uses less power than its predecessor

• Sports a richer experience Internet Explorer

• HTML and JavaScript will be the primary development language for new Windows 8 apps.

• File management basics such as copy, move, rename, and delete functions, which make up 50 percent of Explorer’s usage in Windows. puts all your basic file management functions into one window instead of having separate windows for each function. This will make it easier and more efficient to handle moving around several large files at once, such as photos and videos.

• Finally from the user perspective, Windows 8 has clubbed the oft repeated actions in file management into intuitive tabs: Home, Share and Views which contextually club actions in and around the browser for more efficient file management, ease of use and intuitive interface usage.

Intel tries hard, very hard catching up on Tablets and Smartphones (The Roadmap thru to 2014)

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on July 1, 2011

Intel is finally getting its roadmap in place to address the Tablet and Smartphone markets, where it has not really established itself. With Tablets heavily eating into the laptop category, it is time that Intel marshalls its considerable resources to address new markets. Its first system-on-a-chip for tablets and smartphones–codenamed Medfield–will be a crucial component of that strategy, though chips that follow may be more important commercially. Medfield will arrive in the first half of 2012, followed by Clover Trail technology in the second half of 2012

Medfield marks Intel’s move to a 32-nanometer system-on-a-chip Atom processor for tablets and smartphones. At long last leaving 45-nanometer Atom processors behind. Generally, the smaller the chip geometry, the faster and/or more power efficient the chip is. Medfield is likely a single-core processor and the system-on-a-chip Clover Trail variety a dual-core chip

Clover Trail chip would be a good match for Windows 8 tablets and convertibles and should be in time for the new Microsoft operating system is expected to be released to consumers sometime in the second half of 2012.
• Medfield: first half 2012, single core, 32-nanometer
• Clover Trail: second half 2012, dual-core, 32-nanometer
• Silvermont: 2013, new Atom architecture, 22-nanometer
• Airmont: 2014, 14-nanometer

The only thing here is that while Intel dicusses deal core, many of its competitors like Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments are already discussing quad-core chips based on the ARM design. Nvidia for sure is bringing forth Quad core chips for tablets and high-end “super phones” by end of this year. Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are shipping dual-core ARM-based designs into products now with plans for quad-core later in 2012. And Apple’s next-generation A6 is rumored to be quad-core too. All this actually puts Intel at least one generation behind its competitors.

Intel versus ARM: Microprocessor wars

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on January 17, 2011

“The beginning of the end for Intel”,”The year that a small UK chip designer began to eclipse the largest chipmaker in the world”!

Continued from earlier posts. Read Post I, Post II


Undoubtedly, all these estimates about Intel are grossly wrong in the present context. But whats not wrong, is that Intel is increasingly falling out of favour with the next gen computing: Smartphones and Tablets. It can’t be denied that ARM-based chips will pose a growing challenge for Intel and as Bob Morris director of mobile computing at ARM put it: “All the logos are all the same size which I thought was pretty cool,”. All the Logos were the ARM logos and he was talking about the tablet show at CES. ARM monopolizes the tablet category. And now its has Microsoft rooting for it. ARM shares saw a healthy 7% jump with the Microsoft announcement.

Intel is always better when it’s challenged, so we’ll get better products as a result. Intel may soon have its own Atom microprocessor for smartphones. This is sufficiently delayed after Intel had announced Atom for smartphones last May. We’ll probably see a Nokia Intel-based handset running MeeGo at Mobile World Congress next month.

But Intel has handed much of a head start to ARM already-

It is is not architecture any more, it’s a business model. Whats working for ARM is the support it already has:Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Apple and now Microsoft.ARM’s benefit is that, while it designs the architecture, it uses a licensable model.

That means that manufacturers, such as Nvidia with the Tegra or Qualcomm with the Snapdragon, can make their own design adjustments before manufacture. Snapdragon, for example, features Qualcomm proprietary GPU technology.
They can also pick the best ARM processor to go in their products and that freedom of design and manufacture is something Intel won’t offer.

Apple is a unique case as it now has its own chip design firm – it bought PA Semi who designed the ARM-based Apple A4 chip. Barring a simply earth-shattering seismic shift, Apple won’t be using Atom inside the iPhone 10 or iPad 5.

So then, even if Intel matches ARM feature to feature soon, it will have a task competing against all these different companies, because they’re going to be one of many… its an eco-system these are early days for the Tablet eco-system and Intel has a task in order to get on top of things.

Not many are betting in favour of Intel, but its too early to count them out.

Tagged with: , , ,

Wintel on a rough patch

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on January 14, 2011

Is the end of the long heralded Wintel Platform nigh? Or so it seems. Click here for an earlier post on Wintel failing to ride the future.

Microsoft’s big announcement that came this CES was that it was making the next version of Windows work on ARM chips. It’s a major break in Microsoft’s longstanding relationship with Intel. On the other hand, Intel has nothing significant about its Smartphone or Tablet plans at CES. However, Intel has reportedly reorganized itself with a new tablet and netbook group and is splitting its tablet strategy between Windows, Google’s Android, and Nokia’s MeeGo operating systems.

Microsoft parting ways with Intel has touched a nerve with Intel. Citing a lack of foresight on the part of Microsoft, Intel has commented that PC makers like Dell and Intel had been trying to get Microsoft to tailor Windows for touch-screen tablets for years, with no luck. This was because revamping Windows for different types of devices is expensive and time-consuming, and Windows revenue had been growing just fine without Microsoft venturing into newer categories. Tablets only became a problem for Microsoft when non-Windows tablets started cutting into Windows PC sales. That’s starting to happen now, which is why Microsoft is finally taking notice. Is it too late? Microsoft has a couple of good concepts in Kinect and Surface and that could be leveraged going forward, but from the looks of it now, Microsoft’s inability in predicting the future in computing may cause it to loose ground in Tablets.

Tagged with: , , ,

Will History overwhelm the Wintel Platform?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on December 3, 2010

For as long as I remember, Computers meant Windows and “Intel Inside” to me. This was called the “Wintel” platform because the Microsoft Windows operating system and Intel processors were virtually synonymous. In an era of rapidly increasing mobility, though, Intel and Microsoft are facing an uphill task. Their de facto dominance has been challenged and are now faced with potential irrelevance. Both Microsoft and Intel are fending off competitors in their core markets, while also struggling to establish a presence on smaller, mobile platforms.

History doesnot favour Wintel
To many, this is the history of computing revisited. Each wave of computing had its share of Goliaths (Large and Powerful incumbents) loosing out to Davids. There was mainframe first, which was dominated by IBM, then came the mini computer dominated by DEC in the second wave, then came the third wave with workstations dominated by Sun and Apollo, then the PC which is where Wintel had a free and undisputed run. Now it’s the mobile architecture that is going to be the main computing platform at least on the terminal side with the cloud backing it as the Data dump.

Android driving Windows Irrelevant
Android is also subtly shifting our understanding of the purpose of an operating system. Android is a means to an end for Google. The better Android is and the more it lets us do, the more of our data Google can potentially get access to. And data is Google’s raison d’être. By way of comparison, Windows is an end in itself–a dead end. Microsoft gains little benefit from Windows other than the income from software licenses, which is starting to sound like a very old-fashioned way of thinking in this age of mobile devices and data clouds. Windows Mobile 7.0 and its suit of services have been launched and have received some traction. However, challenging the Android would be mean WinMo 7.0 would have to play at a different level altogether.

ARM severely challenges Intel
What smartphones and tablets have in common is that they are almost universally built using ARM processor technology rather than Intel. ARM also powers the next big category of products: Tablets, EBooks and Internet TVs (Google). It is not that Intel is unaware of the benefits of the ARM architecture on mobility platforms. The tablet processor architecture unveiled by Intel codenamed Oak Trail–is a system on a chip (SoC) that promises to consume 50 percent less power while also enabling full HD video playback. This however is not expected to go into production until early 2011. In the mean time, ARM steam rolls establishing very key strategic partnerships that would take it to the next level.

Both Microsoft and Intel have been late to react to subtle shifts in the landscape which have suddenly cascaded into a all embracing powerful wave. Both these powerhouses are making and effort to re-orient and re-invent their businesses. However, the falls of greats in computing history is a telling story.

One thing is for sure, though–the fight for market share and market relevance will be good for business professionals and consumers because it creates competition which will force all parties to be innovative in their designs, and appealing in their pricing in order to set their smartphone or tablet apart from the crowd.

Tagged with: , , , ,

ARM is favourably placed against Intel in Microprocessor space

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on December 2, 2010

In an earlier post, i had written about how the fight for Tablets and Embedded Devices (Google TV, eBooks) would redefine the microprocessor space and would possibly be the showdown between ARM and Intel. This post examines how the business model of ARM scores over that of Intel in creating new segments and future in mobility processing.

ARM-designed processors are still expected to remain the dominant technology in microprocessors for three contributing factors: ARM’s well-established network of silicon partners allowing downstream players to diversify their solution providers, energy-saving features which provide higher microprocessor computing speed and ability, and software support around the chip architecture enabling mobility devices like tablets and other embedded devices like Google TV and E-Book readers. The idea is pretty simple: ARM processors may be lower-performing cores, but they use less power; and in an era where one of the big defining characteristics is limiting power to the server room, multiple ARM cores might deliver more processing for a set amount of power.

The distinction between Intel and ARM is the business model. Intel, designs and manufacturers its processors end to end , where as ARM, designs the processors for other companies such as Texas Instruments, Marvell, and Samsung to license, refine, and build themselves. This in effect redefines the battle. Quoting Herman Hauser, co-founder at ARM, ‘it’s not Intel versus ARM, it is Intel versus every single semiconductor company in the world.’ That threat to Intel is not ARM per se, but from vertically integrated manufacturers like Apple — who do everything from product design right down to processor design. If a company like HP decided to follow suit, e.g. by buying Palm for its OS and licensing ARM, that might be a nightmare scenario for Intel.

Intel is clearly under pressure for the first time in its history and finds itself in the status of underdog when compared to the popularity and ubiquity of the ARM ships in the mobility and embedded devices space. Approximately 95% of the world’s mobile handsets and more than one-quarter of all electronic devices use an ARM chip. Intel’s recent purchase of the Infineon was an attempt to re-position the company away from microprocessors and towards producing baseband processors, the key component of the mobile phone. Whether they can morph themselves into a baseband company remains to be seen

It’s hard to argue with ARM’s corporate performance: this year the company has collected more revenue from its licensed designs than Intel has on its microprocessor sales, while still allowing its customers to make a profit of their own from the chips they manufacture. Increasing interest in the low-power chips from netbook, ultra-portable, and even server manufacturers shows that ARM’s long absence from the desktop and server markets could be drawing to a close.

%d bloggers like this: