Tag: intel

5G planning starts

oldfoneWhile most people haven’t even moved to 4G phone networks yet, manufacturers are already talking about standards for the next faster generation of 5G phones.

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”.

Intel’s China plans show mobile agenda

1220aIntel’s recently announced plans to invest shedloads into its Chengdu plant might be revealing much about its cunning plan for the future.

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.

Why does Intel need Broadwell H?

12-inch silicon wafer - Wikimedia CommonsThe Dark Satanic Rumour Mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which claims that Intel has bumped off its Broadwell H range.

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.

Intel builds new Xanadu in China

intel_log_reversedIntel has said that it will write a $1.6 billion cheque to upgrade its factory in the city of Chengdu in western China.

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.

Technology causes increasing isolation

Dell logoDell and Intel have interviewed over 5,000 people with jobs to find out what they think about technology.

It is stating the obvious to say both Intel and Dell want small, medium and large organisations in the 12 countries they surveyed to buy more tech, rather than less.

What’s completely clear is that the days of X86 dominance are well and truly over.  Tablet use is growing, and 81 percent of employees want their devices to perform well. Low powered Celeron, i3 and i5 chips  don’t really cut the mustard here.

Although 97 percent of people spend some time in their employer’s office, 35 percent work in public places for at least two hours a week.

Offices are a problem and 48 percent of the employees are continually distracted with one in five people wearing headphones to cut out the white noise.

A staggering 51 percent of people in their offices don’t talk to their physical neighbours but send them instant messages or emails instead.

A lot of people who work from home benefit from the lack of distraction, with 30 percent sleeping more, and 46 percent being less stressed.  But even this is no paradise as their time is taken up by nuisances such as spouses, children, parents and pets.

Here’s good news for Intel and Dell. Some feel poor technology holds them back and stops them pursuing their careers.

An astonishing 92 percent believe voice recognition will be used instead of keyboards, 87 percent think tablets will supplant laptops, 87 percent think all computers will use hand gestures and 88 percent think keyboards and mice will be obsolete pretty soon.

Intel Braswell delays all about cost

979583-scroogeIntel has been doing its best to explain why its Braswell chip has been delayed.

For those who came in late, Braswell was supposed to be a 1Q 2015 launch, but it kept being delayed. The latest news is that it will not be seen in the shops until June and August 2015.

Kirk  Skaugen,  who heads up the company’s PC Client Group said the main reason was cost.

Intel has been having problems getting its 14 nanometer manufacturing technology to yield at economically acceptable levels. Although the company describes the current yield rate of its 14 nanometer technology as being in a “healthy range,” Intel indicated that the yields still are not where the prior generation technology was at this stage of its ramp.

Broadwell costs will actually remain higher than those for the 22 nanometer Haswell family of products until the third quarter of 2015.

This is all very tricky considering that Braswell is intended to be a very low-cost part for entry-level desktops and notebooks. While Intel can take a couple of quarters of elevated costs to get Broadwell right for the higher-value segments of the PC business, it has the luxury of waiting until Braswell’s manufacturing costs are lower than last year’s 22 nanometer Bay Trail’s costs for more cost-sensitive PCs.

Intel has been all about platform cost reduction with Bay Trail-M/D and has been working to reduce the platform bill of materials costs for its Bay Trail-M/D products. Since the low-end PC market is focused more on cost than on performance, these Bay Trail products may continue to hold their own against AMD’s newly announced Carrizo-L until Braswell arrives.

HP locks in corporate customers

superdomeAhead of the breakup of the company, HP is doing its best to make sure that its big corporate customers do not flee.

The maker of expensive printer ink has announced a cunning plan to help retain important customers by allowing them to leave behind their Integrity.

HP will offer versions of two computer server lines under H-P’s Integrity moniker—Superdome and NonStop—that will be powered by Intel’s Xeon chips. HP’s Integrity machines now use Intel’s Itanium chips.

HP’s new Superdome model has sockets to plug in 16 Xeon chips and offers nine times the performance of a conventional H-P system with eight Xeon chips, the company said. H-P has developed accessory chips and software to speed up communications between chips and improve reliability.

Revenue from these “business-critical” servers, declined 29 percent in the quarter ended in October over a year earlier. However, Superdome and NonStop servers are still used by banks, telecommunications carriers and other companies particularly concerned with reliability.

Integrity only made $929 million in revenue in the fiscal year ended October 31, which was nothing compared to the $12.5 billion generated from more popular x86 servers.

HP needs to keep these customers sweet because they buy software, services and other hardware from H-P that hinges on the applications running on the Superdome and NonStop machines.

Under the plan HP will keep developing Itanium-based systems but will help its clients move Intel’s mainstream Xeon technology.

Intel, which introduced its last Itanium model in late 2012, has disclosed plans for a successor, which is code-named Kittson. The chipmaker hasn’t said when that product will arrive nor described models it may develop after that.

For Superdome, HP is encouraging customers to move to the Linux operating system or other software. HP is porting NonStop software to run on Xeon chips. The company is offering services to help customers migrate to the new technology in both cases.

 

Google Glass saved by Intel

spexIt looks as though Google Glass will have a fresh leash of life after it has emerged Intel is to get involved in the project.

Reports recently suggested that Glass was on its last gasp, with several employees leaving Google to spend more time with their families.

But, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Intel is going to take an active role in future development of the spectacles.

Firstly, a Texas Instrument chip will disappear from the frame to be replaced with an Intel device based on its Quark X86 technology.

And Intel, which is now a firm believer in the concept of electronic “wearables”, will do some selling and promotion of Google Glass to manufacturers, the healthcare industry and other vertical sectors, said the Journal.

The report said the next version of Glass will have a better battery life and probably more memory.

Intel has had a chequered career in any products outside its core X86 PC business, and was very late to the game in the mobile and tablet markets.

Intel buys password company

Intel-logoChip giant Intel has bought a Canadian company that attempts to take the pain out of passwords.

Intel Security – which includes the McAfee unit – didn’t say how much it paid for PasswordBox, which only started business in June 2013.

It’s unclear how many of the company’s 44 employees will be employed by Intel.

Intel will give new and existing customers a premium subscription at no cost until it gets round to releasing products under its own branding.

PasswordBox has around 14 million users worldwide.  The software lets you coordinate different logins and passwords in a sort of digital wallet so you don’t have to remember – or write down – all those different passwords that are easy to forget.

Tablets face squeeze from notebooks, phones

ipad3Shipments of notebooks are only set to grow 0.6 percent in 2015, amounting to 174.6 million units, while sales of tablets will fall by 3.5 percent to 185.6 million units.

That’s according to Taiwanese market intelligence firm Trendforce, which said that this year notebook vendors struggled to gain market share this year by essentially engaging in a price war.

But Caroline Chen, a notebook analyst at the company, said that next year we’ll see an array of different products with tablets and low priced notebooks facing stiff competition from smartphones and so called phablets.

She thinks notebook vendors need to rethink their strategies.

Tablets didn’t do well this year and overall 366 million mobile PCs – a category that she defines as including notebook computers and tablets – shipped. That’s largely similar to sales last year.

Subsidies from major players like Microsoft, Google and Intel have skewed the market. Chromebooks, she thinks, will account for eight million units in 2015.

She said that because subsidies from Intel and Microsoft lower manufacturers’ costs, the subsidies benefit end users.  “It would be better if Microsoft and Intel can find more substantial ways to develop the market,” she said.

trendforce

Internet of things war hots up

Internet of ThingsA wave of consolidation in the internet of things (IoT) market is assured in the next few years.

That’s according to financial company Hampleton Partners, which said in a report that vendors have spent over $9 billion in the marketplace in the last few years in a bid to put their stake in the ground.

And early players in that market include Google, Samsung, Verizon and others.  Apple wants to make a play in the market too.

In the next year, Hammpleton thinks that other companies will make acquistions in the next year or so to get into a market estimated to be worth many billions by the end of the decade.

Those include Intel, TI, Texas Instruments and AT&T.

One of the problems is that when there are countless devices equipped with semiconductors and the ability to be connected to the internet, is that there are few standards and so far few attempts to create such standards.

Estimates vary about the number of devices connected by the end of the decade but it’s certain the number will be in tens of billions.  Each device, however, will cost very little – money to be made will be in the way such things are interconnected and structured.

ARM fails to dent X86 server market

intel_log_reversedBeancounters at mighty chip behemoth Intel can stop playing with their worry beads as it looks as though servers based on ARM technology are failing to dent X86 server business.

A report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes said that ARM has made serious attempts to invade the server business but hasn’t succeeding in storming the Intel fortress.

And with Intel having an 80 percent share in the PC market, shareholders in the chip giant believe that despite its appalling performance in the mobile space, it will continue to make high margins from its server chip offerings.

AMD is waiting in the wings but doesn’t have a great deal of traction in the server business,  the report claims.

Both ARM and Intel hope to make vast profits by being in the vanguard in offering products that will leverage the expected boom in the “internet of things”.

Intel and ARM are relying on cloud based apps to make everything work together.  These things are only a tiny fraction of the internet of things, however, and it’s hard to see either company having much of a share in the expected bonanza.

Intel shares could rise by 30 percent

hopeWhile some have decided that Intel will go the way of the Dodo, it appears that the analysts Barrons disagree.

The outfit’s augury division has walked a compliant white bull into the temple of Juno, read its steaming entrails, and concluded that Intel will do rather well.

It thinks that shares in Chipzilla will rise more than 30 percent to $48 over the next two years.

The logic is that with shares its recently at over $35, Intel stock is halfway to the five-year doubling Barron’s said it predicted in June of 2013.

Barron’s said that in two years’ time, the 30 percent rise would put shares trading at around 16 times future earnings estimates, the same price to 2014 earnings ratio that it now trades at.

Intel has few fans among the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street, suggesting plenty of popularity to be gained. Intel is strategically running a deep loss in its mobile-chip division in order to make up for its late start.

However, Barron insists that might be a good thing. Shrinking those losses to break-even in future years will uncover earnings power in the rest of the company that is currently hidden.

However there is a lot of scepticism about Intel—just 40 percent of analysts who cover the shares say to buy them.

Earnings per share are expected to climb 19 percent this year to $2.25, which looks like excellent growth, except that earnings first topped $2 a share back in 2010, said a Barron.

However Barrons did not see everything as lilly white in the ox’s liver.  It thinks that while Intel is on track to ship a promised 40 million tablet chips this year, versus just a million or so two years ago, its mobile division will likely lose about $4 billion in the process. That is partly due to “contra revenues,” which are effectively rebates to spur demand while Intel closes the cost gap to rivals on low-end multifunction chips.

Next year Intel expects the division’s loss to shrink by only $800 million. However, by then, it expects to sell a full range of tablet chips, ranging from cheap models called SoFIA, which have integrated wireless function, to pricier Cherry Trail chips for zippy performance at low power. Analysts see the mobile unit achieving positive gross profit margins by 2016.

So if you are thinking about making a quick buck from Intel you might want to wait until this period is over before investing your nest-egg.

 

 

Intel to carry on subsidising tablets

Internet of ThingsThe attempt by Intel to penetrate the tablet market has cost it dear in subsidies over the last two years.

But it appears that the chip giant hasn’t given up the ghost on such a plan and, according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, is likely to pour more cash into the venture.

Intel’s problem is that it has faced overwhelming competition on price from companies that use microprocessors from Mediatek and Qualcomm, based on designs from British chip designer ARM.

Even though Intel has several ARM licences, it declines to use those to compete and wants the market to realise the important part it plays in the mobile arena.  Or, to put it differently, Intel is a proud company and doesn’t want to lose face.

The subsidies to vendors have been aimed at tablets with screen dimensions of 10 inches and below, but Digitimes now says it may well extend those subsidies to tablets 12 inches and below.

Intel cannot afford not to be in the tablet business because it wants to be a key player in the so called Internet of Things.  Last week the chip giant said it was going to merge its mobile and comms businesses with its PC business, which will effectively disguise the hole in its profit and loss statements in the future.

Intel has a perky bottom line

Intel-logoIntel’s bottom line is looking a little cheery thanks to the fact that the death of the PC was overstated and people are buying them again.

Intel said that its revenue outlook for 2015 was above what the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street expected and it was even going to raise its dividend.

Intel claimed that its revenue will grow by a mid-single digit percentage next year which is not what we usually associate with a middle digit.

Analysts on average have been forecasting 3.4 percent revenue growth for 2015.

Chairman Andy Bryant said he saw progress in Intel’s strategy of staking out a big chunk of market share in tablets this year by offering manufacturers subsidies to use its chips.

“I’m not going to tell you I’m proud of losing the kind of money we’re losing but I’m also going to tell you I’m not embarrassed by it like I was a year ago about where we were,” Bryant said. “This is the price you pay for sitting on the sidelines for a number of years and then fighting your way back into the market.”

Intel expects gross margins in 2015 to be 62 percent, plus or minus two percentage points. Analysts on average expected 63 percent gross margins for 2015 and 2014.

Capital spending next year will be about $10.5 billion, the company said, compared to about $11 billion expected in 2014.

Intel also said it would increase its dividend by six cents to 96 cents on an annual basis.

Intel’s results point to the death of the industry myth, put about by the Tame Apple Press that the iPad had killed the PC and everything was going mobile. We said that mobile was a parallel development and that PC sales slumped due to a downturn in the economy coupled with the fact that PCs were lasting longer and there was no need to upgrade.

CEO Brian Krzanich said Intel was on track to exceed its goal of seeing its chips used in 40 million tablets this year. That strategy made Intel the No 2 tablet chip supplier in the June quarter, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, but it cost the company billions of dollars in subsidies.