Om Malik on Intel Mobile Processors

Om Malik has a great analysis on why Intel may not make it big in the mobile processor market. Intel recently announced the new series of Atom processors, which are geared towards smartmobiles, and also towards tablets.

A couple of nasty digs at Intel, in my opinion, but if you think about it a little bit, it sounds pretty logical.

A few interesting tidbits here:

IA is making its debut at a time when its rivals are firing on all cylinders. The ARM-based mobile application processor ecosystem is as crowded and vibrant as an Asian bazaar. From Qualcomm’s Snapdragon to Nvidia’s Tegra to Texas Instruments’ OMAP, the smartphone and tablet markets are very competitive. ARM-based chips are faster and consume a lot less energy. It will be at least a year before Intel can match them in the power department, analysts say.

I agree. The ARM ecosystem is indeed a very powerful competitor to compete against. It will take more than financial muscle to win in this market. ARM cores are available for every fabless design company and they can design for the mobile market in ways more than many.

Unlike in the PC market, where Intel’s best competitor was an anemic AMD, its mobile industry rivals are pretty cash-rich. And none is stronger than Qualcomm, which in many ways is a proxy on the fast-growing Android smartphone market.

Haha. That was stinging :-). But true.

If Qualcomm is a fearsome competitor in the Android ecosystem, Intel is locked out of the Apple ecosystem. Apple has bet the farm on its internal chip technologies such as the ARM-based A4 currently being used inside the iPad. In the iPhone, ARM is the architecture of choice as well. Microsoft has started working closely with Nvidia’s Tegra and RIM’s devices, too, are ARM-based. Last month Hewlett-Packard agreed to buy Palm in a deal valued at $1.2 billion, and with that its own OS that runs on ARM — not Intel-based — chips.

Apple’s decision to get into the design market itself and the latest development of HP buying PALM and the the PALM’s new OS running on ARM makes a big difference as well.

Read the full article here.

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