3 Theories For Why Intel Is Merging Mobile And PC Divisions

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dovah-chan

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AMD has their own ARM architecture actually. But, as of right now, it's only for the server market and they have announced no plans to bring any AMD ARM SoCs to the mobile market.

Right now the low end mobile market is pretty crowded. You have Intel and ARM chromebooks, low end pentium and AMD kabini APUs making up the low cost windows laptops, and now tablets are starting to cut into laptop revenue.

I think chromebooks will overtake in the education and business department due to the low cost and small storage making them the optimal solutions for cloud services, but on the consumer front I expect more of the older folk will gravitate towards windows laptops more as chromebooks carry a sort of 'trendy' stigma to them.

Now while Intel is focusing on gaining ground in the handheld sector, AMD will be sneakily retaking market share for the low end laptops due to the attractively low TDPs and low cost that OEMs will flock to.
 

InvalidError

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The simplest theory is that it did not really make sense to develop mobile and desktop separately when the bulk of the design effort is common to both.

When you look at all the design compromises Intel originally made to bring Atom's TDP down and how much of these compromises Intel has had to back-track on to get Atom's performance back up to a reasonable level, I would not be surprised if future Atoms ended up being reduced desktop chips instead of completely separate designs... much the same way Intel decided to re-merge desktop and mobile product lines with Core2 eight years ago.
 

ldo

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Why on earth are Intel wasting so much time and effort trying to push the x86 architecture into a market that doesn’t want it? Why not use their legendary fab prowess to make ARM chips? Then their mobile division could have shown a profit, for a change.

But no, the corporate ego seems to be massively strong in this one...
 
Ido,
Ego has nothing to do with it. They obviously had a plan though it may not have worked out; hindsight is 20/20 so let's not be quick to judge especially without all the facts.

And people certainly do want x86 Mobile. Look at what happened when "Windows 8 RT" came out and people discovered their "laptop" had an ARM CPU thus couldn't run any software that wasn't offered through the Microsoft store.

I for one would like an x86 Windows 10 Tablet which I could use standalone, in a charging dock attached to a monitor, and with a portable keyboard-case to use a netbook.
 

ldo

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Except the “hindsight” goes back over 6 years, right to the beginnings of Atom. Remember when Intel started that, claiming that only x86 could offer the “Full Internet Experience”, and that Atom was 2 years ahead of ARM?

So yes, after so many years of failure, you have to admit at some point that it was no longer about any rational “plan”, but purely about “ego” and “stubbornness”.

No, people do not want x86 in mobile. Tablets running full Windows have been available for about a decade and a half (remember Bill Gates announcing how Windows XP had been designed for tablets?). They never sold well.
 

benedict78

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Everyone is ignoring the fact that by selling their Atoms for "free" Intel is keeping AMD on the edge of bankrupcy by keeping their mobile chips unsellable. 1B per quarter is a small price to pay for getting rid of your biggest competitor.
 

aldaia

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Well, the thing is that AMD is not anymore Intel's biggest competitor. Intel's biggest competitors right now are, Qualcom, Samsung and Apple. Intel has big pockets, but Qualcom is not far from intel. Samsung and specially Apple, have way bigger pockets than Intel and they are also big Intel customers, which makes a bad idea to directly confront them.

 

tomfreak

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What Intel & microsoft FAIL to realise that

1. Chrome OS or Android with x86 wont work = it is a stupid combination.
2. What both of them need is to sit down and work on a x86 mobile phone on windows. One that is direct replacement of Pentium 3 & 4 machine. That need to tap the x86 windows market. Not anything outside of it.
 
It must have been the MICA smart bracelet wearable strategy for the 'fashion crowd' that pushed them over the edge.

I didn't realize that Atom had become such a black (red?) hole requiring massive subsidies. The 'Atom Subsidy Strategy' would seem to explain why great chips like the 8w AMD A6-1450 Temash quad (or the 3w A4-1200 Temash dual) were so incredibly difficult to find in any mobile devices.

 

InvalidError

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In a few years from now when mobile devices become powerful enough to handle most people's everyday tasks, the conventional desktop PC may start losing market share at an alarming rate. If Intel fails to secure a reasonable chunk of the mobile market before that happens, Intel/x86 might be screwed.

Even if Intel did decide to start making ARM-based chips to get a piece of the ARM chip market, they would have to compete against all the other $20-40 SoCs out there, which means much narrower margins than what they get on the x86 side. That would put them in a similar situation of being stuck selling chips barely above costs that AMD is in.

AMD getting hurt is merely collateral damage at this point: if Intel is failing to get good market share by almost giving their chips away, AMD would likely fare even worse with their slower and less power-efficient x86 SoCs. You could say Intel is sparing AMD the trouble of trying to warm the mobile market up to x86 chips.
 

f-14

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with all the die shrinks, the power problem shouldn't be an issue at 14nm and definitely not at 10nm and with samsungs new process that's below the nm level i think that would be the ARM killer as all intel would have to do is die shrink a core2 series at the very least a core2duo at below nm die shrink would wipe quad core ARM all over the world, let alone the floor. burst architecture only gets you so far and today's phones are used for more than simple short burst operations these days.
 

yhikum

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In a few years from now when mobile devices become powerful enough to handle most people's everyday tasks, the conventional desktop PC may start losing market share at an alarming rate. If Intel fails to secure a reasonable chunk of the mobile market before that happens, Intel/x86 might be screwed.

Even if Intel did decide to start making ARM-based chips to get a piece of the ARM chip market, they would have to compete against all the other $20-40 SoCs out there, which means much narrower margins than what they get on the x86 side. That would put them in a similar situation of being stuck selling chips barely above costs that AMD is in.

AMD getting hurt is merely collateral damage at this point: if Intel is failing to get good market share by almost giving their chips away, AMD would likely fare even worse with their slower and less power-efficient x86 SoCs. You could say Intel is sparing AMD the trouble of trying to warm the mobile market up to x86 chips.
Fantasy.

Talks about mobile market overshadowing PC market have not produced a ding in PC usage market. New cell phones and tablets are sure fun to use, but there is a whole different productivity sector for PC (where people use PC for work, i.e engineering, accounting and various product design). The 'ding' in sales is simply due to people/businesses not upgrading to get latest hardware. People sure gained alot of mobile devices, but when it comes to real work PC is doing great. Also, observe that there is very little productivity software written for mobile platforms: virtually no CAD applications or image/video editing suits, and how about whole slew of development tools for Java/C++/C# and Javascript (Nodejs etc.)?

Secondly, why everybody is assuming that AMD is hurting? Did Intel lay off 5000 people recently? And did AMD do the same? Do we hear about either company re-structuring their internal and external departments?
 

Catalina588

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None of the three reasons cited is most likely. My call is much simpler: Mobile and PC Groups need to share and innovate on common technology. Examples: On-chipset 4G LTE wireless modems, motion sensors, power management, cameras and, yes, common microarchitecture. Your laptop in 2017 is going to behave a lot like your tablet.

The Micro group's Bay Trail has been a HUGE win for the PC group hidden in Haswell Celeron's that have taken over the low end PC, netbook, and Chromebook categories.

So, do the R&D once and avoid the inevitable divisional friction transferring ideas and projects around.

You can't hide the Micro losses. They show up as a drop in divisional gross margin percent.
 

sonofliberty08

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6 billions...... just remind me of how Intel bribe Dell and other PC manufacturer not to use AMD Athlon64 chips before they release Core 2 Duo, nowonder now ASUS and Lenovo pick crappy Atom instead of ARM chips for their tablets and smartphones.
 

InvalidError

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There are tons of office and other generic tasks that would run perfectly fine on current mobile devices. The only thing missing is apps for them and they are bound to become more common as mobile devices become more credible options, especially with dockable/transformable tablets: drop the tablet on the dock and you can get close to full desktop capabilities with multiple displays, mouse, keyboard, external storage, etc.

I would not expect tablets to replace PCs for professional stuff like CAD and other niche applications with unusually high system requirements but it will happen for many everyday tasks sooner or later.
 

RedJaron

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I'm not sure what the writer means that fitting the "heavier" chips into mobile didn't work for either Intel or MS. The Surface Pro has been flying off shelves, as has the MacBook Air. No, those devices may not sell as much as "lighter" fare tablets and such, but you can't deny there's a significant ( if small-ish ) market for premium ultraportables.
 

ldo

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Ah, I see the pattern now: downvotes for anyone who questions the supremacy of x86 and the desktop in the computing market.

Let me point out something: history has not been kind to companies accustomed to producing low-volume, high-margin products trying to move into high-volume, low-margin markets.

You don’t think of Intel as “low-volume”? It currently ships 300 million x86 chips a year. But that is already a steep decline off the peak of 360 million.

For comparison, more ARM chips ship each year than the entire population of the Earth.

Put THAT in your damn downvotes and smoke it.
 

RedJaron

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You best grow some thicker skin. One, it's an Internet forum and the anonymity can make anyone feel brave to act however they want without reprisal. Two, the only one downvoting your posts ( and most posts, ) on this thread is Ephebus, and they tend to do that on a ton of threads without actually participating in them. A single user is hardly some grand conspiracy or groupthink. Voting up for you own posts to avoid the a negative score does little but make you look like an ass.
 

Christopher1

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I think chromebooks will overtake in the education and business department due to the low cost and small storage making them the optimal solutions for cloud services, but on the consumer front I expect more of the older folk will gravitate towards windows laptops more as chromebooks carry a sort of 'trendy' stigma to them.
More like artificially limited. I know of many teachers who are saying "Intel/AMD or nothing!" and pointing parents at cheap 300 dollar Acer and Asus computers (That meet or beat my current gaming class laptop on everything but graphics performance [this is very close] and screen res.) for their homes.
E5-571-5552 is the one that I recommend to everyone who I talk with. The only codicils on it are no DVD drive (who really uses one today in the real world with streamable movies, music and TV shows) which can be easily corrected when you need one by an add-on USB 3.0 DVD drive like the 20 dollar bargain basement special I recently bought on Newegg.
 

zodiacfml

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I agree with some of the above with the simple theory. They're going similar to each other anyway, in capability and power in the future. They also probably need their brightest engineers working on one thing or department.

Atom will not die. There's still a need for a small chip x86.

Look for the next USB cable/charger specification, it will be able to charge a laptop or smartphone. Windows will be the same and integrated across devices, in MS's ideal plan.
 

aldaia

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That ironically is powered by an "ARM Inside" processor. The Intel XMM 6321 SOC used for the MICA features a dual-core ARM Cortex-A5.
 

aldaia

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Somebody wrote in a 60's forum:
Talks about minicomputer overshadowing mainframe market have not produced a ding in mainframe usage market. New minicomputers are sure fun to use, but there is a whole different productivity sector for mainframes (where people use mainframes for work, i.e engineering, accounting and various product design).
Somebody else wrote in a 80's forum:
Talks about PCs overshadowing minicomputer market have not produced a ding in minicomputer usage market. New PCs are sure fun to use, but there is a whole different productivity sector for minicomputers (where people use minicomputer for work, i.e engineering, accounting and various product design).
IBM was the dominating company in the Mainframe market. In the 60's IBM dismissed the minicomputer thread. Mainframes became a niche market while Minicomputers became the dominating computer platform, and Digital Equipment Corporation became the dominating company. In the 80s DEC dismissed the PC market ( Ken Olsen, founder and CEO of DEC is attributed the quote "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home") In the 90's DEC was acquired by Compaq (for the youngsters Compaq was a PC company much in the lines of Dell today, that later was acquired by HP). Minicomputers went extinct and we all know where PCs are today.

History tends to repeat patterns. Maybe you are too young to see a pattern repeating over and over, but I'm old enough to know that generally higher volume and cheaper technologies tend to replace lower volume more expensive ones despite the higher capabilities of the later. Today PC-server market has stabilized around 300-400 millions units a year while mobile devices sell by the billions. Maybe PCs are more powerful but any smartphone has enough computing power to do serious work for 99% of users. My phone sitting right now in my pocket is several orders of magnitude more powerful than the DEC-VAX where I used to do serious programming work some years ago, and the workstation I used for CAD and VLSI design. Actually If i could travel back in time, my $100 phone would have the computing power of 100 $1,000,000 Cray-1 supercomputers put together, and I can tell you that supercomputers at that time where used for very serious work.

 
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