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Intel gets aggressive with pricing, OS tuning, and looks ahead to die shrinks

"It's a question of whether you'd rather have a jet engine or two propellers," Intel Corp. (INTC) mobile chief Mike Bell tells CNN Money in a new interview.

I. Intel: We Have the Better Chips

Intel currently trails ARM Holdings Plc's (LON:ARM) coalition of chipmakers in the mobile chip market, with the ARM alliance owning over 95 percent of smartphone and tablet processor sales by volume.  At the 2013 Mobile World Congress, Intel is trying different strategies to lure buyers away from ARM.  It has scored some design wins with its new Lexington chip, the Intel Atom Z2420, which is popping up in Android tablets as cheap as $250 USD.

That aggressive pricing could help Intel.  At a 2013 Consumer Electronics Show press event, an Intel executive told us that his company is finding itself in a foreign position in which it has faster hardware, but is being rejected by some OEMs because of (alleged) backdoor dealings with ARM.

ARM owns 95+ percent of the mobile processor market. [Image Source: ARM/Facebook]

On paper one disadvantage that Intel's Atom smartphone processor carry is a lower core count.  While ARM chips like Qualcomm Inc.'s (QCOM) Snapdragon 600 or NVIDIA Corp.'s (NVDA) Tegra 4 typically have a quad-core layout, Intel's current smartphone chips are single-core.

And yet Intel still manages to beat many multi-core ARM chips in benchmarks due to its strong single-threaded performance, indicating that core-count may be a misleading metric.

II. Tuning the OS

Intel is also looking to get an inside track via working with operating system makers to fine-tune OS code for mobile x86 chips.  Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android is, of course, the biggest target.

Android statues
Intel is working with Google to optimize Android on Atom. [Image Source: AndroidModo]
"To be successful in this industry, simply building chips is insufficient.  We can write software that helps us get the most out of our hardware.  We have a great relationship with Google.  We can do as good a job optimizing our systems as anyone, and Google has never told us 'no' when we have said we'd like to improve performance somewhere," says Mr. Bell.

Intel is also co-developing a new Linux-kernel operating system called Tizen with Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930).  The Version 2.0 test build of Tizen was shown at MWC 2013 running on demo hardware.  Early builds appear unimpressive -- comments  PCMag's Alex Colon, "[Tizen] was also pretty slow. Now, this build of Tizen is only weeks old, but I experienced a lot of lag in pulling down that notifications menu, not to mention uncomfortably long load times for apps."

But Samsung may be eager to refine the new operating system as a means of ditching Google and keeping more mobile advertising revenue itself.  That could in turn boost Intel, the official Tizen hardware partner.

Intel is bringing its 22 nm mobile platform (core: Silvermont; SoC: ValleyView; chipset: Bay Trail) to bear later this year in the tablet space, with 22 nm smartphone chips likely shipping earlier next year.  Intel's 32 nm smartphone chips are decent peformers, but the shift to 22 nm is expected to give a big boost in battery life, a critical metric in the mobile space.

Source: CNN Money

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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By TerranMagistrate on 2/27/2013 6:56:12 PM , Rating: -1
A large percentage of that unmatched engineering talent belonging to Intel's Israeli R&D labs.

RE: Intel will easily conquer this market.
By Amiga500 on 2/28/2013 4:30:45 AM , Rating: 3
Your point is?

[Other than seemingly boasting?]

By Cypherdude1 on 3/1/2013 3:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
If you're planning to upgrade your Intel desktop or laptop computer, you'll probably want to wait until Haswell arrives and then wait a few months more for them to perfect it. Early November/late October would probably be the best time frame. Haswell is scheduled to arrive in June 2013. The best time to buy the latest & greatest tech is probably a few weeks before Black Friday. Contrary to popular belief, Black Friday doesn't always give you the best deal.

Haswell has numerous upgrades. They include faster built-in graphics, faster general performance, and much better power savings. The latter is more for laptops and tablets. Of course, if a CPU uses less power, it also runs cooler so this applies to everything.

The accompanying mobo's probably also have upgrades. Hopefully, these will include a chipset which incorporates better built-in SATA III for the newest SSD's and USB 3.x.

One problem I will have if I upgrade is the desktop case. My last 2 systems have had a case with a front door to prevent dust contamination and 2 - 80 mm fans in the lower front. I also made a filter which I placed in front of the 2 bottom front fans. This is what I am currently using:

Unfortunately, they no longer make this style and they cannot accommodate the larger Extended-ATX mobo's anyway. This is a simple and inexpensive design. I don't understand why they can't simply make the case 2 inches longer from front to back and add newer connectors in the front. The above case has USB 2.0, FireWire (which I do not use), headphone and mic connections. All they would need to do is replace the FireWire with USB 3.0 and add SATA connectors in the front.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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