Categories
computers mobile technology wired culture

Intel looks to build ultra-efficient mobile chips Apple cant ignore

English: Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel
Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During Intels annual investor day on Thursday, CEO Paul Otellini outlined the companys plan to leverage its multi-billion-dollar chip fabrication plants, thousands of developers and industry sway to catch up in the lucrative mobile device sector, reports Forbes.

via Intel looks to build ultra-efficient mobile chips Apple cant ignore (Apple Insider)

But what you are seeing is a form of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) being spread about to sow the seeds of mobile Intel processors sales. The doubt is not as obvious as questioning the performance of ARM chips, or the ability of manufacturers like Samsung to meet their volume targets and reject rates for each new mobile chip. No it’s more subtle than that and only noticeable to people who know details like what design rule Intel is currently using versus that which is used by Samsung or TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp.) Intel is currently just releasing its next gen 22nm chips as companies like Samsung are still trying to recoup their investment in 45nm and 32nm production lines. Apple is just now beginning to sample some 32nm chips from Samsung in iPad 2 and Apple TV products. It’s current flagship model iPad/iPhone both use a 45nm chip produced by Samsung. Intel is trying to say that the old generation technology while good doesn’t have the weight and just massive investment in the next generation chip technology. The new chips will be smaller, energy efficient, less expensive all the things need to make higher profit on consumer devices using them. However, Intel doesn’t do ARM chips, it has Atom and that is the one thing that has hampered any big design wins in cellphone or tablet designs to date. At any narrow size of the design rule, ARM chips almost always use less power than a comparably sized Atom chip from Intel. So whether it’s really an attempt to spread FUD, can easily be debated one way or another. But the message is clear, Intel is trying to fight back against ARM. Why? Let’s turn back the clock to March of this year in a previous article also appearing in Apple Insider:

Apple could be top mobile processor maker by end of 2012 (Apple Insider, March 20, 2012)

This article is referenced in the original article quoted at the top of the page. And it points out why Intel is trying to get Apple to take notice of its own mobile chip commitments. Apple designs its own chips and has the manufacturing contracted out to a foundry. To date Samsung has been the sole source of the A-processors used in iPhones/iPod/iPad devices as Apple is trying to get TSMC up to speed to get a second source. Meanwhile sales of the Apple devices continues to grow handsomely in spite of these supply limits. More important to Intel is the blistering growth in spite of being on older foundry technology and design rules. Intel has a technological and investment advantage over Samsung now. They do not have a chip however that is BETTER than Apple’s in house designed ARM chip. That’s why the underlying message for Intel is that it has to make it’s Atom chip so much better than an A4, A5, A5X at ANY design ruling that Apple cannot ignore Intel’s superior design and manufacturing capability. Apple will still use Intel chips, but not in its flagship products until Intel achieves that much greater level of technical capability and sophistication in its Mobile microprocessors.

Twin-track development plan for Intel’s expansion into smartphones (The Register, May 11, 2012)

Intel is planning a two-pronged attack on the smartphone and tablet markets, with dual Atom lines going down to 14 nanometers and Android providing the special sauce to spur sales. 

Lastly, Ian Thomson from The Register weighs in looking at what the underlying message from Intel really is. It’s all about the future of microprocessors for the consumer market. However the emphasis in this article is that Android OS devices whether they be phones or tablets or netbooks will be the way to compete AGAINST Apple. But again it’s not Apple as such it’s the microprocessor Apple is using in it’s best selling devices that scares Intel the most. Intel has since its inception been geared towards the ‘mainstream’ market selling into Enterprises and the Consumer area for years. It has milked the desktop PC revolution as it helped create it more or less starting with its forays into integrated micro-processor chips and chipsets. It reminds me a little of the old steel plants that existed in the U.S. during the 1970s as Japan was building NEW steel plants that used a much more energy efficient design, and a steel making technology that created  a higher quality product. So less expensive higher quality steel was only possible by creating brand new steel plants. But the old line U.S. plants couldn’t justify the expense and so just wrapped up and shutdown operations all over the place. Intel while it is able to make that type of investment in newer technology is still not able to create the energy saving mobile processor that will out perform an ARM core cpu.

Categories
cloud computers data center mobile technology

AnandTech – ARM & Cadence Tape Out 20nm Cortex A15 Test Chip

Wordmark of Cadence Design Systems
Image via Wikipedia

The test chip will be fabbed at TSMC on its next-generation 20nm process, a full node reduction ~50% transistor scaling over its 28nm process. With the first 28nm ARM based products due out from TSMC in 2012, this 20nm tape-out announcement is an important milestone but were still around two years away from productization. 

via AnandTech – ARM & Cadence Tape Out 20nm Cortex A15 Test Chip.

Data Centre
Image by Route79 via Flickr (Now that's scary isn't it! Boo!)

Happy Halloween! And like most years there are some tricks up ARM’s sleeve announced this past week along with some partnerships that should make things trickier for the Engineers trying to equip ever more energy efficient and dense Data Centers the world over.

It’s been announced, the ARM15 is coming to market some time in the future. Albeit a ways off yet. And it’s going to be using a really narrow design rule to insure it’s as low power as it possibly can be. I know manufacturers of the massively parallel compute cloud in a box will be seeking out this chip as soon as samples can arrive. The 64bit version of ARM15 is the real potential jewel in the crown for Calxeda who is attempting to balance low power and 64bit performance in the same design.

I can’t wait to see the first benchmarks of these chips apart from the benchmarks from the first shipping product Calxeda can get out with the ARM15 x64. Also note just this week Hewlett-Packard has signed on to sell designs by Calxeda in forth coming servers targeted at Energy Efficient Data Center build-outs. So more news to come regarding that partnership and you can read it right here @ Carpetbomberz.com