Judging from the presentation Hermann Eul did at NASDAQ this week Intel is still in mobile. This presentation was probably inked before Intel Mobile was folded into the PC Group however. The first clue is Hermann’s title was listed as “General Manager and Vice President, Mobile Communications Group” which he is no longer. Even so, I found the presentation to be very interesting and the positioning of Intel in mobile solid. But first let’s talk about Prof. Dr. Hermann Eul (I’m a big fan of his from the Infineon days so this comes with some bias).
If you look at the Intel website the executive hierarchy is:
Last November Intel announced a “new” mobile strategy which put Hermann Eul on the front page with the SoFIA family SoCs. Hermann joined Intel in 2011 when Infineon’s Wireless group was acquired (SoFIA is from Infineon). At first he was President and General Manager of the newly formed Intel Mobile which was responsible for developing wireless products for connected devices (phones and tablets).
Also read: Intel Quits Mobile
At some point in time Hermann joined the other 29 Corporate Vice Presidents which is where he officially sits today. The latest announcement puts mobile under Kirk Skaugen in the PC Client Group and Hermann’s future at Intel in question. In my opinion, if Hermann does leave this is a big loss for Intel and signals a mobile shift if not a complete Atom exit. We will know more in Q1 2015 when the move is finalized.
Back to the presentation, Herman definitely hit on the important points of mobile specifically connectivity, integration, and the IP that is required for both. The first SoFIA chip uses commercial IP such as ARM and is currently manufactured at TSMC 28nm. Moving forward SoFIA will use Intel IP and manufacturing starting at 14nm. This is not as easy as it sounds. I remember back in 2006 when AMD acquired ATI who also used commercial IP and used TSMC as a manufacturing partner. The ATI chips and IP never made it over to the AMD manufacturing process nor did they move to GlobalFoundries after acquiring AMD’s manufacturing assets as far as I know.
Seriously, it is VERY hard to go from an open fabless semiconductor ecosystem to a closed IDM ecosystem. Can Intel make this SoFIA transition without falling even farther behind in the mobile race? Tough to say really but I give it a much higher probability of success if Hermann and his Infineon inner circle stay with Intel, absolutely.
Bottom line: Will Captain Kirk put red shirts on Hermann and his Infineon team? Will x86 kill the next generation of Atom based designs (SoFIA, Cherry Trail, and Broxton)? My guess is yes, because that is where his heart is:
Kirk Skaugen is senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group for Intel Corporation. Skaugen is leading Intel’s efforts in once again transforming the personal computer industry with Ultrabook™, All-in-Ones, and a new category of 2 in 1 computing devices. Skaugen manages the consumer and business client segments which includes the Intel® Core™, Pentium® and Celeron™ family of processors and related chipsets, wired and wireless client Ethernet, Thunderbolt™, and home gateways. He is also responsible for driving Intel’s corporate-wide user experience initiatives.
Prior to this role, Skaugen led Intel’s Datacenter and Connected Systems Group from $6.1B to over $10 billion in 3 years. He was responsible for strategy and product development for Intel’s enterprise datacenter, cloud computing, communications infrastructure, high performance computing, workstations, storage and networking solutions, and intelligent connected device platforms powering the “internet of things”. His product responsibilities included Intel® Xeon® processors, Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors and Itanium® processors and related chipsets, Intel’s wired enterprise networking, server motherboards and systems, and related software and services.