Intel Betting On Small Form-Factor PCs For Haswell's Success

| About: Intel Corporation (INTC)

Tom Kilroy, an executive VP of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), said that PCs with detachable screens which can act as independent tablets are the future of ultra-portable computing. He added, "The iPad held two thirds of the market but in Q1 this year Android captured the market for tablets. The industry is on the verge of ushering in a new game changer -- that is to say a PC with a detachable screen."

Intel is "honing its approach" for gaining ground in tablets, according to Kilroy. Some industry observers are talking about the demise of x86 architecture, but Intel is committed to give x86 a new lease of life. The x86 architecture will have a long life beyond PCs, and Intel wants to extend x86 in smartphones, tablets and small form-factor desktops.

Intel will Refresh the Desktop CPUs

Intel has changed its roadmap for desktop platform. Slides from Intel's leaked roadmap guide confirm that Intel has cancelled the launch of 14 nm Broadwell, the "tick" version of Haswell, in 2014 for making the 22 nm Haswell an all-round success. Previously, Intel said that it will introduce Broadwell in 2014.

Intel is aggressively pushing Haswell into desktops, and it wants to introduce a Haswell Refresh platform in Q2 2014, which will feature an Intel 9-series chipset and higher speed Haswell chips. Intel will refresh the mainstream desktop Core i-series Haswell microprocessor lineup in Q2 2014.

Small form-factor desktops like Intel's NUC (Next Unit of Computing), which is a 4 x 4 x 1.5 inch mini PC, will be equipped with Haswell. Intel is expected to launch the new NUC in Q3 2013.

Future of Computing: Architecture vs. Power Management

Some experts believe that the future of computing isn't x86. Even Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has seen that the future of computing might be ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) instead of x86. What I feel is that with transistors becoming smaller, the issue of performance-per-watt becomes irrelevant. An efficient quad-core x86 desktop PC processor can provide all the general purpose performance most consumers need. For ARM, with the emergence of multi-core designs, its desktop performance is bound to improve. ARM is scaling up the performance of its mobile processors for use in servers and PCs.

The moot question right now is how to deal with the current drain, both for Intel's x86 and ARM, which leads to reduced battery life. 3-D transistors will solve the problem to a certain extent, but with die-shrink continuing, power management will be the key. I think that Intel's decision to postpone the launch of 14 nm Broadwell is a right decision, because instead of wasting time with die-shrink, it's more important right now to focus on power management.

Haswell Improved Apple's New MacBook Air's Performance

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) recently launched its first Haswell powered MacBook lineup -- the new MacBook Air 2013. When it comes to battery life, Haswell has improved MacBook Air's performance compared to the Retina MacBook Pro. Haswell's improved power management has allowed it to run some games and applications as well, according to reviews.


Haswell's success is inevitable as the OEMs start looking at smaller form factors that they can design around Haswell. Intel CFO Stacy Smith said that the explosion of smaller form factors is going to be substantially different at price points down into the $300 or $400 range. He added, "We didn't have that last year. So you go into the prime selling season with new products, new technologies, new form factors, and new capabilities that up to now had unapproachable price points."

Intel's stock has seen a mild correction amid recent weakness in the stock market. If the stock corrects some more, it would be an excellent buying opportunity for long-term investors.

Disclosure: I am long INTC, ARMH. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.