According to Intel's mobile chief Mike Bell, Intel is just getting started in the design and manufacture of smartphone and tablet chips.
There's a lot at stake for Intel and Chief Executive Paul Otellini. "We are a leader in mobile, but we are just getting started," he recently told analysts at the company's annual investor meeting in July 2012. Additionally according to Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith, "Our manufacturing leadership means we can make the best transistors in the world.
We are targeting Atom to be a much lower-power, lower-cost architecture."
Intel didn't so much miss the boat on mobile as it opted not to jump on. Their strategy was to avoid the industry-standard ARM-based design and instead promote their own ox86 architecture. Those chips are built more for speed and power than battery life. Intel sold off another processor unit that had had some success in the early days of smartphones. Intel was betting that x86 would prevail. Time to regroup.
Chip production in mobile along with cloud computing and Big Data services are the tech industry's fastest-growing computing segment. Mobile is dominated by the ultra successful British company called ARM.
The ARM architecture is composed of a family of RISC-based computer processors designed and licensed by British company ARM Holdings. Astonishingly, ARM's microchip designs can be found in nearly 95% of the world's smartphones and tablets.
ARM chips are in all the most popular mobile devices, including Apple's iPhone and iPad, as well as the Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.
Intel's mobile strategy is simple, use their chip design and manufacturing expertise to build the best, fastest, multi-core, lowest power consuming chips available.
When Intel's mobile chip set is bench marked against ARM's Cortex series of processors, Intel says its mobile processors win on speed every time.
Intel says it's able to outperform the competition with a combination of smart design strategies employed in the chip making process. The company's manufacturing experience brings new technologies to market faster, and Intel engineers build the company's mobile processors completely in house from design to manufacturing.
According to recent comments made by Mike Bell Intel's mobile chief on money.com, Intel has the software and systems competence to be the most successful. "To be successful in this industry, simply building chips is insufficient," said Bell. "We can write software that helps us get the most out of our hardware."
As a result, even though Intel's mobile chips don't yet have multiple cores (the best-in-class ARM chips have as many as four cores), the speed tests aren't even that close.
"It's a question of whether you'd rather have a jet engine or two propellers," said Bell.
Bell said that when mobile chip designs start getting smaller and smaller -- more than halving their current size down to 14 nanometers -- it's going to be difficult for many less-experienced companies using ARM's platform to manufacture something like that.
Given Intel's domination in manufacturing in the PC and server markets, I really like their chances. Look for more Intel mobile chips to work their way into the market in 2013 and 2014.
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