Intel under siege

Intel is suffering a lot of setbacks these days.

During CES 11, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will be ported on Arm architecture, hence breaking Intel’s near monopoly on PC for decades.

On the tablet side, they have been overtaken by Nvidia and its very successful dual core Tegra2 chip. No leading Tablet platform is featuring an Intel processor.

Now the main looser of the recent Microsoft and Nokia alliance seems again to be Intel.

  • Intel and Nokia were developing together Meego, a Linux platform for the next generation of mobile computing devices. The future of this platform now seems a bit uncertain as Nokia is betting on Windows Phone 7 as its high-end platform
  • Currently Windows Phone 7 works only with Qualcomm chipsets (QSD8650 family aka Snapdragon), so Nokia will have to work with Qualcomm unless Microsoft ports WP7 on Intel or other chipsets.

The computing industry is getting mobile, and Intel seems to have dramatically missed this change. Having power hungry processor just doesn’t fly anymore.

Windows on Arm: 2012 revolution

Ballmer’s announcement that Windows 8 will support Arm processor was, from my point of view, the biggest news at CES 2011.

Windows 8 will be compatible with ARM-based systems from Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments. You can now imagine to have a Windows / Tegra2 tablet or a Windows / Snapdragon smartbook.This is a great advance for these chip manufacturers and a setback for Intel. The old Wintel couple seems to split away, with Intel working with Nokia on Meego, their common linux platform.

The 2012 chipset battleground will look quite different:

chip map

Chip makers battleground

As the OS battleground will look different too, whith windows and chrome OS ready for the fight :

OS Map

OS battleground in 2012

Frontiers are blurring, with a main reason: the future of PC lies both in always-connected and tablet.

2011: the multi core race

2007 /2008 has seen every manufacturer competing on the memory embedded into their devices. It was a time where the more memory had a device the better. MicroSD and Qualcomm Snapdragon put an end to it: 2009 /2010 has seen the GHz race. If your device chip wasn’t beating above 1GHz it was just a piece of plastic junk.

The new trend for 2011 is multicore. Nvidia is evangelizing the whole industry about the beauty and benefits of multicore technology with straitforward graphs like these:

Multicore benefits

Multicore benefits

and the more cores you get, the less your chip consumes power:

multicore power consumption

multicore power consumption

This is the trend for 2011, watch out for CES ans MWC, as every chipmaker and device manufacturer will announce dual and quad core mobile devices. Until the next trendy feature: 3D screen?

Mobile TV new victim

Qualcomm is likely to pull the plug on its MediaFlo service in the US by the end of the year. MediaFlo will join DVB-H and other mobile TV standards that have failed in the recent years.

It is really weird that mobile TV seems to be such a failure. On one hand mobile networks are saturated with data and on the other hand no mobile TV standard emerges to off load this very data.

People are consuming an increasingly amount of video and TV contents on the go, hence a mobile TV standard would please operators and help them to keep up with the data demand.

Wouldn’t it be the role of the GSMA to help such a standard to stand up?

Mobile device arms race is shifting

I just read this post from Engadget about the ‘polygon power’ of the latest Galaxy S compared to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon.
> Engadget post

If you remember, one year ago the arms race was about ‘how many Gb of internal memory’ you had. Now nobody cares any more, as long as you have a micro SD memory slot everybody is happy.

The current criterion is the GHz power of the device application processor. In the other words how many horsepower you’ve got to run the nice applications and games from your favourite application store.