Intel (INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich keynoted the Citi Global Technology Conference last week. This was a precursor to the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week. Normally these types of events are scripted dog and pony shows but sometimes interesting information comes out. The first question for example:
What does Intel look like 10 years from now?
According to BK, Intel will be a broader computing company with servers and personal computers worth more than $30B. Intel will be more mobile (pun intended) with wearables and Internet of Things. Clearly Intel has missed mobile and I highly doubt they will dominate wearables or IoT but since they own the really heavy boxes that we call cloud computing any investment in mobile devices will flood back to Intel.
On tablets, BK feels that Intel will be “fairly” successful going from 0% to probably 15% share this year. He’s talking about the Baytrail (22nm SoC) chip giveaway of course. 15% is a big number considering Intel is three to four years late to this market.
During the Intel analyst day presentations last November we learned that Intel would give away 40 million Baytrail SoCs to get traction in the tablet market even though BK told us before that Intel would SELL the 40 million parts. Intel called this “Contra Revenue” which is a clever term for a $1B+ write-off. Intel literally paid companies to take this chip. To me this SoC give away is a scorched earth strategy against the fabless semiconductor industry, specifically QCOM, Mediatek, Samsung, Apple, and the other mobile SoC companies.
The interesting thing to note, now that the AnandTech benchmarks are in, is that the 28nm Apple A7 is very competitive against the 22nm Baytrail which was billed as a generation ahead. Either the infamous Intel transistor domination slides do not apply to SoCs or, with SoCs, architecture is everything. In my opinion the answer is a bit of both. Apple will begin shipping the TSMC 20nm A8 this month and I can assure you it will run circles around any Baytrail based device, absolutely. My guess is that Intel will again have to contra revenue Broxton (14nm SoC) or cancel it all together.
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In regards to smartphones, BK admits Intel is still figuring out this market. Unfortunately, Intel is used to setting trends and not following them so smartphones above all will be a significant challenge. Right now Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi are the mobile trendsetters and the competition is fierce. It was interesting that when BK was asked about competitive pressures he brought up AMD and how Intel dominated. I really think this is an apples to oranges comparison when talking about Qualcomm, Apple, and Mediatek. Intel was the leader and AMD the follower. Intel is now the follower in the SoC world and that is generally not a comfortable position for an established industry leader.
This however is the most interesting comment BK made:
“The relationship between the architecture and design guys and the silicon is important, because we really work together. This is the integrated device manufacturing advantage. We’re able to work together at a very early stage with a mutual target that says on this day we’ve got to have a product that has this cost and both sides have to bring this together to deliver that.
I think that’s the uniqueness that Intel has that makes it a little bit more difficult on the outside world. They kind of are handing something over a wall so to speak. And it’s just not quite as simple an integration.”
Quick question, how many of you leading edge fabless semiconductor professionals hand things over the foundry wall?
Also Read: Intel 14nm is NOT in Production Yet!Share this post via: