The CPU is designed for the ultramobile, low-power market and is an SoC die shrink of the existing architecture.
Where it does something interesting is on the GPU side with shedloads of improvements and advances,
The video decoder block has been beefed up with dual bit stream decoders, we are expecting to see other improvements but Intel has been quiet on exactly what it has tweaked and changed to date.
Intel does appear to have clear ground ahead of it. TSMC’s 20nm is only a slight improvement on die size and power consumption, Intel’s new Broadwell cores are 37 percent smaller.
What is odd, is that although more than half the chip seems dedicated to its GPU, Intel has made no announcement about supporting Direct X12. Nvidia and AMD has announced full DX12 support for their various current hardware,
Intel claims its new chip can boost battery life by 1.5 hours, speed video conversions, and offer a whopping 22 percent improvement to 3D performance. It has been a while that we have seen a significant productivity jump and we were not expecting to see much in the way of improved CPU performance from this chip anyway.
We are expecting Intel to announce the shipment of its Cherry Trail platform today too. This is the 14nm Bay Trail die shrink that’s been on the roadmap for a little while and is not really news. What is strange is how Intel has been quiet about the specifics of Cherry Trail so far. We have no benchmarks, statistics, or anything.
This is odd given Intel’s commitment to tablets and that pushing the Atom down to 14nm is a significant achievement. It should mean some performance gains and it is not clear why Chipzilla is not trumpeting it more.
Intel bought preferred stock that is convertible into common shares equivalent to 30 percent of Vuzix, Vuzix said in a press release.
New York-based Vuzix develops computerised, internet-connected glasses and other video eyewear aimed at consumers, businesses and entertainment. Intel is dead keen to get its foot in the door of such market having been too late into the smartphones and tablets fad.
It is the second big deal to be announced in a month. In December, Italy’s Luxottica said it was joining forces with the US chipmaker to develop glasses that combine its top fashion brands with technology that could allow wearers to access information about their health or location.
Intel has also teamed up with watch retailer Fossil and fashion brand Opening Ceremony to develop wearable devices such as fashion bracelets with communications features and wireless charging.
It is all early days yet, but it seems that Intel is preparing the ground.
That’s according to Taiwanese government quango Market Intelligence and Consulting (MIC), which also predicts the PC industry will flatline or even fall during the year.
Analyst Charles Chou told the Taipei Times that firms that got subsidies from Intel in an attempt to push notebook sales will find themselves out of pocket when Intel cancels the subsidies. He said that the only growth areas were likely to be Chromebooks and sales of machines to educational markets.
But in brighter news he said that we’ll all see more affordable 4K LCD TVs in 2015. He expects that the market wordwide will hit close to 30,000 units.
But if you don’t want a 40-inch or above LCD TV, the news is not too bright. 32-inch panels don’t have big margins and the manufacturers are concentrating their efforts on making ever bigger LCD TVs, in a pursuit of healthier profits.
However, the manufacturers can’t pull the plug on 32-inch or smaller LCD TVs because people in many countries don’t have the money to spend on mega TVs.
It’s also likely they don’t have the space, either.
Google has laid out a reference framework for Chromebooks which means they will cost less than $300 per unit, according to a report from market intelligence firm Digitimes Research.
Dell and Acer will take the lead in cutting prices, with the former introducing a 15.6-inch Chromebook and Acer will introduce a model with the same size screen early next year.
Both are set to use Intel’s Broadwell-U microprocessor and the prices will mean stiff competition as Microsoft wants its hardware partners to produce notebooks costing less than $250.
However, Microsoft cannot hope to get hardware vendors to make Windows 8.1 with Bing machines for the same price point and with similar performance. Although Microsoft has cut licensing fees for Windows in an attempt to beat off competition from Chromebooks, the bill of materials to make notebooks precludes screens 15 inches and above.
ABI Research said that household income needed to buy either a tablet or ultrabook fell by 30 percent during the year, giving access to many new households.
The market research company surveyed 22 different countries between 2013 and 2014 and estimates ASPs fell by 8.5 percent for tablets and 7.1 percent for ultrabooks.
The price drops mean a wider range of countries can now afford the gadgets and even though growth is falling for both types of devices, analyst Stephanie Van Vactor said “affordability could help prevent a drastic decline in sales”.
The affordability index is highest for the US, Japan and Germany, but some countries showed a marked decline in prices. She said Chile, for example, saw a fall in prices of 56 percent for both ultrabooks and tablets.
But India saw an increase in prices of 22 percent for the devices.
Van Vactor estimates we’ll continue to see competition increase and that means prices will once again fall next year.
This is part of Intel’s promise to spend a total of $6 billion to upgrade its Kiryat Gat plant for the manufacture of new advanced chips for its next generation devices.
The $550 is part of Intel’s offset purchase arrangement with the state, which is providing the company with grants of up to $600 million over the next five years as well as a major tax break through 2023. Intel will get two $300 million grants, distribution of which will be spread over five budget years.
Although these figures look great for Chipzilla, executives will be happier with the news that it will only have to pay a corporate tax of only five percent until 2023. Others in Israel have to give the tax man 26.5 percent. In return, Intel committed to hiring at least 1,000 new employees, at least half of whom will be residents of communities in southern Israel. In addition, the company promised to spend at least $550 million.
Intel is committing to spend what it is getting from the government in direct grants, but the Economy Ministry claims the arrangement was great for the Israeli economy.
“This arrangement will have a very positive effect on hundreds of small businesses and suppliers,” said Ziva Eiger, director of investments at the Industrial Cooperation Authority.
“Offset agreements such as this are platforms for leveraging public expenditures for the benefit of the Israeli economy, both for training and encouraging further expansion of small suppliers for the local and world market, and to enhance Israel’s brand as an attractive place for foreign investment,” Eiger added.
“As a result of this agreement, Israelis can look forward to thousands of more jobs being available. It is a model for offset agreements that can provide benefits to all sides.”
Figures released by IHS Technology show that global revenues will be worth $353.2 billion this year, a rise from $322.8 billion in 2013.
Dale Ford, chief analyst at IHS, said the growth is broad based – a nearly all semiconductor suppliers have benefited.
IHS segments the semiconductor market in 28 ways, and Ford said that 22 of those have grown this year, compared to 12 showing growth in 2013.
DRAM and flash memory were the movers and shakers in the market, and while revenues for those sectors have risen by around 20 percent, other segments are also showing healthy growth.
DRAM and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown growth, and microprocessor markets are also showing strong growth.
Mediatek and Avago are showing strong growth in the semi league table.
According to the Xinhua news agency, both companies will work on creating 3D product displays and “visual fitting rooms”, smart hardware, and servers for enterprises for promoting online shopping.
Xinhua said jd.com is one of the world’s top 10 internet companies and Intel will help it improve its existing e-commerce services as well as working on new applications related to ID authentication, security, and database monitoring.
Jd.com has something like 25 million registered users.
No financial details of the deal between the two corporations was released.
Intel has been trying to reposition itself in the last 18 months as more of a general purpose corporation, rather than just a manufacturer of X86 chips. It also wants a chunk of the lucrative pie known as the internet of things, and is still desperate to make its mark in the mobile and tablet markets.
This deal, then, is something of an oddity.
The Openpower foundation was formed a year ago and has something like 80 worldwide members, working on producing server technology built using IBM rather than Intel microprocessor architecture.
The group already has members including Nvidia, Tyan and Google.
Rackspace has been working behind the scenes with the group for over 18 months, but openly declared its hand yesterday. Senior director Aaron Sullivan said that Openpower has an open firmware stack, and better access to chips, memory and storage than, for example, Intel.
Other additions to the powerful consortium include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Mumbai Indian Institute of Technology, and worldwide distributor Avnet.
Openpower said its first summit will be held mid March at the San Jose Convention Center in California.
Both companies are often seen as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the chip market, continually foraying into battles where no one actually gets hurt.
But Digitimes, which is privy to both companies’ future roadmaps, said that they’ll foray out once more in an attempt to capture some slice of the tablet pie – estimated to represent 200 million units in 2015.
Intel has been forced to provide subsidies to companies in an attempt to bolster its rather feeble market share in the tablet and mobile markets.
It will kick off the show by releasing a system-on-a-chip (SoC) device codenamed Cherry Trail, which will be built using a 14 nanometre process and may be with the world as early as March next year. The chip will have lower power consumption and support Windows and Android operating systems, said the wire.
But AMD is not going to stand still after receiving that SoC on the jaw. It will introduce an X86 device dubbed Nolan, and an ARM device called Amur in the second half of next year.
Major vendors are engaging with the formal standards process, according to ABI Research. Those include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, mobile operators and academic bodies.
Research director Philip Solis sad: “These companies are all waving their 5G flags, although 5G definitions and visions remain very vague. But this is not merely marketing. These companies are most certainly putting a stake in the ground that will leverage their, work, competitive strengths, and, most crucially, patents.”
He said that Qualcomm in particular is keeping its head low, but other vendors such as Apple and Google are getting actively involved.
Solis said that efforts by vendors to use their patents will be fiercer than for 4G.
But despite the competitive edge, Solis said that companies are working together “so the standardisation process can hit the ground running”.
The move was a little unusual, as it did not come with the huge tax breaks and other sweeteners that Intel has required from Israeli governments and the US. This indicates that Intel needed a plant in China.
The move followed another similar-sized investment aimed at consolidating China’s wireless chip sector. The smart money suggests the two moves are linked Intel wants China to become a major centre for the company’s belated push into wireless chips.
Intel could be positioning both of these plants to manufacture smartphone chips. Intel failed to recognise the importance of mobile devices earlier, with the result that most of the market is now dominated by companies like sector leader Qualcomm, and mid-sized players like MediaTek, which mostly use chips based on an architecture supplied by European chip giant ARM.
Beijing wants to create a homegrown player to take down Qualcomm but its domestic chip sector consists of mostly small design houses that lack the resources to become major global players.
Unigroup, which is based out at the Tsinghua University, merged two of the biggest domestic players, Spreadtrum and RDA Microelectronics, into a single company. Intel joined that initiative in September, when it purchased 20 per cent of the new company for $1.5 billion. This makes it bigger than China’s largest chipmaker SMIC.
What Intel appears to be doing is getting itself onside with the Chinese and helping their domestic chip making plans with the idea of getting a foot in the door behind the bamboo curtain. Antitrust watchdogs are less likely to snap at its heels, or treat it as a problem, like they do Qualcomm and in the long term, it will have its fingers in the pies of a growing Chinese chip industry.
The rumour is based on pure speculation and common sense. Earlier this year Intel told the world that it would be launching its low-power Broadwell processors in “early spring” and Kirk Skaugen, who heads up Intel’s PC Client Group, showed a roadmap to prove it.
Spring was expected to see millions of units in preparation for a very early spring fifth-generation Core launch of our traditional Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, i5, i7 which will be on Broadwell-U and Skylake in the second half of 2015.
But the higher-powered quad-core variants of Broadwell such as the Broadwell-H and Broadwell-M were not mentioned but were expected in “work week 29” and “work week 36” in 2015. That would mean late July to early September.
But if Skylake also appears in the second half of 2015, it seems that Broadwell chips is surplus to requirements. Intel could go traight to Skylake for the higher-performance notebook models — after all . Skylake has a better CPU core, graphics and media subsystem than Broadwell.
Axing of Broadwell could also be a return to the “tick-tock” method for Intel. Skylake fully ramped in the second half of 2015 means that Intel could conceivably mean that the 10-nanometer Cannonlake product will be ready for deployment for back-to-school in 2016.
The surprise move shows how Chipzilla is deepening ties in a market that is proving increasingly troublesome for rivals like Qualcomm. It also is unlikely that Intel got the sort of sweeteners for the deal which it expects from the US and Israeli governments to set up shop.
Intel said it will receive local and regional government support for construction, but it would be less likely to be the sort long term tax perks that Intel is used to.
Intel executive vice president William Holt said in the statement. “The fully upgraded Chengdu plant will help the Chinese semiconductor industry and boost regional economic growth.”
The announcement comes three months after Intel purchased a minority stake in a government-controlled semiconductor company to jointly design and distribute mobile chips, an industry that China considers to be of strategic importance.
Intel is doing better in China than Qualcomm which is expected to announce that it is writing a huge cheque to make Chinese antitrust regulators go away.
China’s investigation into Qualcomm and Microsoft have prompted an outcry from foreign business lobbies. They say the Chinese government is increasingly adopting strong-arm tactics to yield technology-sharing or other arrangements beneficial to domestic industry.
Analysts say there is a broad recognition that foreign companies must do more to stay in China’s good graces.
Chipzilla has taken the approach that if you want the Chinese government to like you, you have to invest in the local industry.