Intel: if we can’t defeat them, we’ll join them

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Intel lost a recent opportunity to save itself from the mobile disaster, but there’s still hope for them. Not as makers, though: the recent deal made with ARM will allow other microprocessor designers to take advantage of Intel’s resources in the production process.

That could be a good way to leverage the technology and experience Intel has accumulated through all this years, but it’s also another sign -we didn’t need much more of these- of an Intel that threw in the towel long ago in the mobile space.

AMD made a similar move when GlobalFoundries spun off, and it went pretty well for them. We’ll see what happens with this new strategy from Intel.

ARM, Softbank and Intel’s lost chance

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There was a time when Intel dominated the world. That time passed and the company is one of the biggest examples of ‘The innovator’s dilemma’. They were too confident in themselves, as many others -Nokia, Blackberry- and they failed to see what the future was going to be.

Intel could have made a smart move, but again they didn’t probably even consider it, and now Softbank has done something that could be a really future saver: they’ve made a whopping buyout offer to acquire ARM for £24.3 billion (~$32 billion).

Apparently the reason is Softbank’s interest in IoT. I’d say that’s only a marketing trick to add some hype to the headlines. ARM dominates the world now thanks to their smartphone chip design business, and it will be interesting to see what this Japanese giant does with this kind of power.

In case somebody didn’t notice, it’s a good time to acquire British companies, ahem Brexit ahem.

Source: ARM legs it to SoftBank in $32 billion buyout

Goodbye, Atom: you won’t be missed

Vlad Savov writes about Intel and its smartphone strategy: Goodbye, Atom:

Late on Friday night, Intel snuck out the news that it’s bailing on the smartphone market. Despite being the world’s best known processor maker, Intel was only a bit player in the mobile space dominated by Qualcomm, Apple, and Samsung, and it finally chose to cut its losses and cancel its next planned chip, Broxton. This followed downbeat quarterly earnings, 12,000 job cuts, and a major restructuring at a company that’s had a very busy April. Intel is still one of the giants of the global tech industry, but it’s no longer as healthy and sprightly as it used to be.

I would say one of the biggest mistakes of Intel was XScale: giving up on ARM chips could be seen as logical back then, but it was also a little bit arrogant.

Intel had to fight from the top down and that bet never worked out. History has shown us that ARM and its bottom-up strategy has clearly had much more sense in the mobile space.

When Otellini confessed that he passed on that agreement with Apple and their future iPhone -knowing nothing about Apple’s product- it became clear that he was not considering the long term. The company was doing really good back then, so a risky move like that was out of the question.

The situation was exactly the opposite for Andy Grove back in the 80s: the memory business was a road to nowhere, so he had to risk everything, and he made the right decission with his bet on microprocessors. He was looking for a solution on both the short and the long term, and he was lucky. Otellini wasn’t, of course.

Sadly for Intel, this is another example of the innovator’s dilemma. Atom -ahh, those netbook times- won’t be missed. It’s wise to accept defeat.

Google plans on designing its own chips: easier said than done

Amir Efrati on The Information has revealed the conversation between Google and some chip makers about “developing chips based on Google’s own preferred designs“.

The idea here is says Efrati, to “bring more uniformity” and “be more competitive with Apple’s phones at the high end of the market

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I have some questions for Google. For example, if they design special chips for their Android phones, will they release those designs to their partners? Or will they keep those designs for themselves? Qualcomm, MediaTek and others won’t be happy about that, and even if Google becomes a hardware company the challenges are huge if they don’t want to be perceived as counterproductive to their partners.

Designing chips is no small feat either. Apple has recruited a lot of talent there in the past few years in order to accomplish what they have today, and I suspect Google is absolutely dependent on companies such as Qualcomm in order to design those chips. They simply don’t have the resources to do that by themselves. Efrati confirms this:

In the discussions, which occurred this fall, Google representatives put forward designs of chips it was interested in co-developing, including a phone’s main processor

Designing a chip and making it available to all phone makers would be really interesting. Hopefully that will make fragmentation not such a big problem in the future, and in fact I see this having some part to play in that hypothetical merger of Android and Chrome OS, which for sure will benefit too of special chips designed by Google. Hardware & Software going hand in hand is a safe bet here.

Apple was right, it seems.

Samsungate coming

Owners say that TSMC A9 SoC delivers two hours more battery life than Samsung’s A9.

Problems coming for Apple. This doesn’t make much sense: TSMC chips are made with 16nm vs Samsung’s 14nm. That would benefit the latter in efficiency and raw power but the tests show exaclty the opposite.

I wonder if this is some kind of weird support for the chips at the kernel level in iOS 9. Let’s see what Apple has to say (and do) in this regard.

Source: iPhone 6S battery life may vary, depending on which A9 chip is inside | Ars Technica UK