Tag: intel

AMD’s woes deepen

frog-mouth-crocodile-blair_42596_990x742Fabless chipmaker AMD lowered its revenue estimate for its second second quarter saying the demand for personal computers was weaker than expected.

The company also cut its adjusted gross margin forecast for the quarter ended June 27.

The company has been shifting focus to gaming consoles and low-power servers but progress has been slower than anyone expected. This is partly because Intel has upped its game and new competitors are designing low-cost and power-efficient chips.

AMD was at the initial stage of reviewing whether to split itself in two or spin off a business, in a move to reverse its fortunes and take on Intel. Other rumours have suggested that it was going to sell itself off.

The company said that it expects revenue to have decreased about eight percent from the first quarter, compared with its previous forecast of down three percent, plus or minus three percent.

This implies revenue of about $948 million. Analysts were expecting $999.6 million.

AMD also cut its forecast for second-quarter adjusted gross margin to about 28 percent, as weak demand from PC makers also hurt demand of its APUs which combine both computing and graphic processing capability.

AMD had forecast margins of about 32 percent.

The company warned in April that it expected weak demand for personal computers to continue for some time as original equipment manufacturers focus on lean inventories.

Microsoft and partners defend against Chromebook

windowscomputexThe glorious Wintel alliance which is still running despite a few hiccups has a cunning plan to see off the threat of Google Chromebooks.

Microsoft and its chum Intel plans to launch a device running Windows 10 with Bing.

Microsoft and Intel are working with all   partners to bring cheaper devices to the market and help tackle the growth of Google Chromebooks.

Stage one of the plan is to release a cheap OEM version of Windows 10 with Bing.

As was the case with Windows 8.1, Windows 10 with Bing will be a Windows 10 SKU available exclusively for PC makers and will be offered at a very low cost or even free of charge.

Microsoft has worked out that it needs to slash licensing fees that manufacturers need to pay for installing Windows on their devices.

Windows with Bing is basically Windows 8.1 with Bing offered the same features as Windows 8.1 but came with Bing branding that OEMs could not change.

Users, however, were allowed to replace Bing as the default search engine with Google or something else.

A Windows 10 with Bing flavour will appear later. In fact Windows 10 is designed to be installed on as many devices as possible, and Microsoft expects one billion PCs, tablets, and smartphones to be running it by 2017.

Intel in talks to buy Altera

Intel Q4_14_ResultsLike something out of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, “The Black Swan, the Wall Street Journal reported that Intel  was in talks to buy Altera Corp. Taleb also predicts that the so called experts will then tell us why it makes perfectly good sense for Intel to acquire Altera – all after the fact of course.

To get an idea what’s involved on the money side; Intel’s market capitalisation is around $140 Billion with Altera at about $10.4 billion.

What premium Intel would have to pay is, of course, one of the finer points of the ongoing discussion. As a basis of estimate analysts are using Intel’s last acquisition of McAfee at $7.7 Billion as a benchmark indicating the acquisition could be in excess of $14 Billion making it the company’s largest acquisition to date if consummated.

Intel stock, which had risen 18% in the past year, rose 6.4% to $32 following the report of the potential acquisition. Altera stock, down 2.5% in the past 12 months, jumped 28% Friday to $44.41.

So, as a sort of red herring for acceptance of the deal, the market reacted positively – considered good feedback for the talks to continue.

Techeye Take – Why Altera?

Altera is one of the anointed companies qualified to run their programmable FPGAs on Intel’s 14 nm Fabs. The two companies have been working closely together in a number of areas and in some cases with involved third parties. Altera FPGAs, for the most part, are not involved in the consumer electronics segment but are directed almost wholly at the high end of the server and HPC markets.

We believe Intel has become deeply involved (nay dependent) on Altera’s Programmable FPGAs in their next generation data center architecture and began suffering pangs of paranoia over the company becoming too exposed to outside influences deciding that complete control over Altera was their only option (taken from Andy Grove’s guidebook; “Only the Paranoid Survive’). [Altera used to belong to AMD, Ed.]

 

Skylake desktop launch set for August

IMG0045566The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that that the silicon monster Intel is about to drop a clutch of Skylake desktop chips in August.

The rumour is based on the idea that every year Intel holds its Developers Forum in Mid-September but for reasons known only to the Gods has decided to change the date to Mid-August.

Fudzilla is certain that Intel plans to launch the desktop Skylake-S between August and October, while the production of dual-core and quad-core Skylake parts will start between June and July.

Skylake-S will launch as an unlocked desktop processor that will have TDPs from 65W to 95 W, but there will also be some 35W parts for All-in-One computers coming time (presumably in time fo Apple’s new iMacs).

For Fudz’ prediction to work, Broadwell 65W parts will have to be here in June and be announced at Computex. This will mean that the top Core i7 5775R SKU has a base clock of 3.3GHz, with a max turbo frequency of 3.8GHz, 6MB of cache, DDR3L 1600 MHz support and Iris PRO 6200 graphics.

Intel’s current Core i7 4790K is based on Haswell refresh core and it works at 4GHz and am 8MB cache, as well as Intel HD Graphics 4600. The Core i7 4790K has a TDP of 88W which is significantly more than 65W.

For Intel to make much impact with Skylight it will have to launch a Core i7 5770K variant that will works faster than the Core i7 4790K.

It also seems that Intel will go back on its word and bring in a new socket set based around 1364 pins. Intel was fond of saying that that Skylake will use the same LGA 1150 socket and this has lead some to suspect that there will be a socket 1150 version and an LGA 1364 version of the Skylake-S.

Mooly Eden quits Intel

Intel Q4_14_ResultsCharismatic Intel executive Mooly Eden said yesterday he had resigned from the company.

Eden, senior VP of Intel International, was renowned for his off the cuff and sometimes pungent remarks. He was one of a few executives who were press friendly, rather than regarding us as the enemy.

He was in charge of the Israeli team who created both the Centrino brand the Intel Pentium M microprocessors.

He said in a press release that he was leaving Intel with a sense of satisfaction, after working with creative people who later became good friends.

Three years ago he went back to Israel from California and became president of Intel Israel, according to the Jewish Business News.

Eden was a member of the so-called “Old School” at Intel. He started working for the semiconductor company in 1982.

It’s unclear what his plans are for the future.

PCs face an uphill struggle

A not so mobile X86 PCThe consensus is that the PC might not be dead but it is certainly struggling.

And in the third report of its kind we’ve published today, IDC said that until 2010 PCs had the lion’s share of the total smart connected devices market, accounting for around 52.5 percent of shipments with 44.7 percent for smartphones and only 2.8 percent for tablets.

But, said IDC, in 2014 smartphones represented 73.4 percent of total shipments, PCs slipped to 16. percent and tablets 12.5 percent.

That trend is continuing – by 2019 PCs will only represent 11.6 percent of that market, while tablets will have 10.7 percent.

This must all be deeply troubling for chip giant Intel, with revenues still depending on the good old X86 chip and seemingly unable to make inroads into the tablet and smartphone markets.

Here’s an IDC chart demonstrating the trend between 2014 and 2019.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 15.02.21

 

Intel, Google, TAG to make smart watch

Swiss Watches the BrandEver eager to join the fashion bandwagon, chip giant Intel has joined up with TAG Heuer and Google to create a smart watch which they will launch before the end of the year.

TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver told a press conference at a Swiss watch trade show that the deal is a “marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility”.

The watch will use the Android Wear platform and use Intel chips but it’s unclear quite how much it will cost when it’s released.

Intel suit Michael Bell, who is the general manager of Intel’s new devices group, said that making a luxury watch in collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings the vision of wearable technology that bit nearer.

The Google man, David Singleton, said that the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers. And Google. He said that Google can now imagine a better, beautiful and smarter watch.

Apple releases its range of smart watches next month, and much will depend on whether that is a flop or a success. Intel has never been particularly brilliant at creating reference designs that have long battery lives and its other ventures into consumer technology have all, without exception, been damp squibs.

TAG Heuer doesn’t make cheap watches, so you probably have to have a chunk of disposable income to impress – or alternatively depress, your friends.

 

Freescale-NXP merger challenges the giants

renesas-chips (1)The proposed merger of Freescale and NXP will result in a semiconductor company that challenges the giants.

That’s according to chief analyst Dale Ford at IHS, who said the merged entity will be in the top 10 semiconductor companies in the world, outranking other giants such as Broadcom and ST Microelectronics.

He said the strength of uniting Freescale and NXP will be shown in automotive applications particularly.

NXP, formerly the semiconductor division of Dutch giant Philips, used to compete in the same market, said Ford.

But the new top 10 will look fundamentally different. By revenues, Intel will remain number one with 14.14 percent, followed by Samsung, Qualcomm, SK Hynix, US DRAM firm Micron, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

The merged company will be second place in the micro controller market, and it will also have significant share in the digital signal processing (DSP) market, much used in consumer applications.

IHS noted in its report that Freescale is practically an exclusive source for power architecture processors – and although its share in this market is tiny compared to ARM and X86 semiconductors, it has big wins in the military aerospace market.

Intel promises “things” will get even smaller

tiny chipzillaChipzilla has promised that the gear which comes out under its “internet of things” plans will be getting a lot smaller soon.

So far, Intel’s SD card-sized Edison have been mainly adopted by enthusiasts which is normally the kiss of death for manufacturers who want mass sales. However with the next generation,, Intel said that it is considering a different approach to make Curie and its components accessible to a wider audience.

One idea is to sell a prebuilt “board” resembling a button with the Curie chip, wireless circuitry, sensors and expansion ports on it.

Mike Bell, corporate vice president and general manager at Intel’s New Devices Group, told PC World  that Intel’s larger wearable computers like the SD card-sized Edison were mainly adopted by enthusiasts.

“You hook up a battery, you hook up some wires, and you have something you can build a product out of,” Bell said.

Another idea is to have a smaller multi-chip package with just the Curie processor, radio and other basic circuitry. It’ll be small and come without the board, and will be ready to implement in wearable devices.

It will be quicker to implement, and should give device makers more flexibility in size when designing wearables.

What is strange however is that Intel has had more success putting its software, called IQs by Intel, in wearables more than its chips. It is seems that this sort of app-like approach is going down well with those who want to build wearables. That software only approach might give Intel a leg-up with Curie. Curie has a low-power Quark chip, Bluetooth wireless capabilities and a sensor hub to track activities like steps. It also has a pattern recognition engine, and software packages are key to analysing collected data.

The health software package will use the pattern recognition engine to analyse steps and other health data. Intel’s idea is turn the whole lot into a data analysis machine.

Fashion companies don’t have time to think about technology, and the software packages make implementing Curie into wearables easy, Bell said.

Intel’s main challenge is ARM and MIPS, whose processors are used in most wearables today.
Chipzilla has technology for smartwatches – it has been trying to peddle its Basis Peak idea mostly through partners. It is already in the market – in a fairly low key way. Intel’s technology is already in SMS Audio’s BioSport earphones and Opening Ceremony’s MICA smart bracelet. Intel has also partnered with eyewear companies Luxottica and Oakley and watch company Fossil Group.

 

More gloom ahead for the PC market

A not so mobile X86 PCThere’s still no light at the end of tunnel for PC sales, market research company IDC has predicted.

It estimates that world wide shipments of PCs will drop by 4.9 percent this year, but it suggests things may be slightly better in 2016 and 2017.

Total shipments of PCs this year are expected to total 293.1 million, but the underlying trend remains poor.

IDC said that some sectors of the market saw an uptick in demand during the second half of last year, but volumes were up because the supply chain was inflated by Microsoft’s plan to cut subsidies in its Windows 8.1 + Bing scheme early this year.

The strong US dollar makes PCs more expensive and there’s a continuing move to other form factors. Intel won’t release its Skylake processor and Microsoft won’t ship Windows 10 until later this year, so many will wait buying until they see which particular writing is on the wall.

Emerging markets don’t offer much either. IDC said that these markets ended 2014 with a decline of 9.5 percent in PC shipments.

Loren Louverde, VP of PCs at IDC, said opportunities for long term growth depend largely on growth in the emerging market. “That seems unlikely with the shift towards mobile devices. Vendors can focus on growth segments of the market such as All in One, slim and convertible PCs, or consolidate share, but pressure on pricing and from competing devices will continue to make it a challenging market.”

Intel suffers $1 billion hit

Intel-logoChip megagiant Intel has revised its forecast for the first quarter of this year by close to one billion dollars.

The company said that people haven’t been buying the expected number of business PCs, and distributors, dealers and other vendors haven’t been ordering what Intel expected.

Intel thought that small and medium sized companies would flock in their droves to upgrade the now defunct Windows XP operating system. But that hasn’t happened.

It also said that currency conditions in Europe had affected its business.

Now Intel thinks its first quarter revenues will amount to $12.8 billion – down from its original estimate of $13.7 billion.

But if you’re starting to feel sorry for the behemoth, you don’t need to be. It said it is still expecting its gross margin to be about 60 percent, a gross margin that many other enterprises would die for.

 

Intel’s Xeon SoC to ARM wrestle

arm-wrestlingIntel has lifted the veil on a new Xeon D family of processors which are the company’s first ever Xeon-based System-on-Chip (SoC).

The news is bad for ARM because it is wanted to dominate the microserver market and this package is exactly what it does not want out there.

The Xeon D line is built on Intel’s 14nm process technology and combines the performance of Xeon chips with the size and power savings of a SoC.

Intel says the Xeon D delivers up to 3.4x faster performance node and up to 1.7x better performance per watt compared to the company’s Atom C2750, which is part of Intel’s second-generation 64-bit SoC family.

Xeon D is the third generation and it’s actually based on Intel’s 14nm Broadwell architecture.

This puts Intel in the running for those customers who want low-power, high density infrastructure products. In fact Intel says that it can deliver  server class reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features in an ultra-dense, low-power device.

Cisco, HP, NEC, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sugon, and Supermicro have sworn their loyalty to the chip, before all their dark gods, and are committed to building microserves based on Intel’s new Xeon D options.

This means ARM has not got much time before actual products are out there.

Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel said that the growth of connected devices and demand for more digital services has created new opportunities for information and communication technology,” said.

“By bringing Intel Xeon processor performance to a low-power SoC, we’re delivering the best of both worlds and enabling our customers to deliver exciting new services.”

Intel’s kicking things off with two Xeon D processors, the D-1540 with 8 cores, 16 threads, 2GHz, 45W TDP and D-1520 with its 4 cores, 8 threads, 2.2GHz, 45W TDP. These have memory controllers capable of up to 128GB of addressable memory.

They also feature an integrated platform controller hub (PCH), integrated I/Os, and two integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

All of this is based on Intel’s Broadwell so should give a reasonable performance per watt.

Intel 730-series SSDs dogged by rumour

watchdogIntel’s 730-series SSDs, which received glowing reviews, has been dogged by a rumour that it lacks power loss data protection, a feature which was highlighted in Intel’s review guides.

The rumour was confirmed by Intel’s customer support department which made the mistake of implying that the SDD’s spec had changed.

The customer support person said that the SSD 730 was never built with the capacitor for the power loss data protection.

This means, the SSD does not have the capacitors at all, therefore the Intel’s website has the correct information of the drive.

Power data loss protection is a relatively important feature for anyone buying these drives and it puts reviewers such as Toms’ Hardware on the spot for not noticing it. The only problem is that when Toms’ reviewed the Intel 730 240GB SSD, it spotted it had two large capacitors on the PCB.

After all the fact that Intel included such technology on a mass-market drive was news.

Intel moved to kill the rumours this week. Jeff Fick, Product Marketing Engineer on the Intel SSD 730 Series insisted that the Intel SSD 730 Series incorporates power loss protection circuitry, capacitors and firmware support to help protect user data.

He said that Intel customer support got it wrong.  In fact it looks like contrary to Intel’s tech support’s statements, the capacitors do indeed exist and do provide a level of protection rarely seen on enthusiast-level SSDs.

Intel and Huawei snuggle up

cuddling-dog-catIntel and Huawei Technologies are getting closer even as their rival governments fall out over trade blocks.

According to Huawei, the pair are getting closer and will share technology and adopt Huawei branding behind the bamboo curtain to make Intel products more palatable to local buyers and the Chinese government.

The technology involved focuses on the cloud, with the pair working on a project to create new servers, a data centre, software and cyber security for a global cloud-computing network.

China’s government has been openly pushing for the use of more Chinese and less foreign-made technology, both to grow its own tech sector and as a response to Edward Snowden’s leaks about widespread US cyber surveillance.

Intel and Huawei have collaborated previously, including a server and cloud product team-up in 2012 and an agreement to cooperate on data storage last April.

Although the announcement is mostly Chinese focused it is likely that the Intel side of the deal will result in other products seen worldwide. Intel would take the lead in nations where Huawei is not trusted, and Huawei stepping forward in countries which are worried about US surveillance.

Intel loses the plot – analysts

Intel-logoA financial analyst said that an announcement made by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona has thrown into sharp relief Intel’s inability to capture market share.

Mark Hibben, at Seeking Alpha, said that while the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, delivered a keynote at MWC, Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S6 phone shows that the California company is way behind in its egregious goals.

Hibben said that Samsung is targeting Apple’s iPhone 6, “making it clear that Apple and Samsung completely dominate the mobile device world, leaving Intel with only aspirations”.

The Galaxy S6 smartphone uses a Samsung 64-bit processor, using the company’s 14 nanometre FinFET process.

He said this shows that ARM has leaped into the process lead over Intel, which only has its SoFIA on a 28 nanometre TSMC process, said Hibben. That, he thinks, makes Intel two generations behind process tech for smartphones.

He said companies like Apple and Samsung “can deploy staggering capital resources in the pursuit of non Intel Inside”.

Intel made a $4.2 billion loss in its mobile group in 2014.