With a number of new projects underway, Intel (INTC) is looking more and more like a necessary stock to add to your portfolio.
Intel researchers are currently planning a smarter and more personalized cloud that will "deliver accurate information about the quality of air and weather within meters of where a user is standing". The company thinks that will, in the end, improve our quality of life. The idea is to place sensors in neighborhoods that will measure pollution levels as well as the weather. Information will then be gathered from the sensors when a user requests it. The users position will be triangulated and accurate information for that location using a personalized cloud service will be submitted to the user.
The weather updates that you can currently receive are very generic. They are also based on information from very few sensors in specific places, like the airport. The chip that Intel has designed can be placed just about anywhere. Consequently, you will be able to get accurate information that will actually be useful to you, rather than inaccurate forecasts based on facts from a location miles away. People who need to keep track of the quality of the air will find the pollution sensors very useful. For example, if you have asthma you will know whether or not a location is safe for you to spend a long time in, without suffering from a severe attack.
The process of setting all of this up will no doubt be tedious, but it is definitely practical. Store owners who have sensors placed on their stores will be able to benefit through advertisements, for example. When a user requests information they will also be sent an advertisement for the nearest store. Users will not have to pay any additional fees for the service. The possibilities are endless, as the company plans to roll out its ideas to make smarter cities and stores.
Initially, the plan was to eventually incorporate these sensor chips into smartphones, but this plan has taken a back seat, as it is far from practical. A phone in your pocket will not measure temperatures accurately with existing technology. However, future chip generations may be able to handle the challenge and Intel plans to address this issue again. If it is successful, then this will mean a bright future for Intel stockholders.
In other news Intel recently acquired the majority of Cray's (CRAY) interconnect IP and corresponding 74-person development team. This means good things for Intel in that it gives the x86 chipmaker "a high performance, scalable interconnect technology to potentially integrate into its high-end server processors". This acquisition cost Intel $140 million. Although this may seem like a surprising move on Cray's part (a super computer company that has really started to make a name for itself), and not necessarily in its best interests, the benefits for Intel are far-reaching. Ultimately, the company will be able to build up its high-performance computing portfolio.
Intel is also trying to get its foot in the door of the mobile phone market. This week the company made what it calls "the first step" in becoming a major player in the market. The Lava XOLO X900, a phone that recently debuted in India, will carry an Intel chip inside. The company feels confident that this is the start of a new era and that it will be a big player n the smartphone industry in less than five years.
This may all seem very promising, but we need to remember that Intel is not the only player in the market. In addition, the first smartphone carrying Intel software was launched in India for a company that does not have a significant reputation. I am currently a little skeptical about the likelihood that the company's five year plan will be achieved. However, it is worth some optimism that Intel is getting into the game. Keep an eye on the India debut. If it's big, look for Intel to make a large company wide push in this direction.
Qualcomm (QCOM) has become a significant competitor in the chip making race and Intel needs to up its game in order to keep up with this company. In 2011, Qualcomm dominated the cellular baseband chip market. Though, it is true that Intel has a more diversified portfolio than Qualcomm, it'd still be nice for Intel to compete more formidably in its main industry.
Broadcom (BRCM) recently announced that it has developed "the worlds' first 100Gb/s full duplex BCM88030 network processor unit". The main advantage of this unit is that it radically reduces system cost and power by up to 80% per 10GbE port. This is something of a breakthrough in the industry and puts Broadcom ahead of the game in this particular area. Although Intel has successfully launched its own innovations and new programs, we need to keep in mind that Intel is not the only company that has done great things of late.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) recently announced that it "is cutting costs and reducing the number of its data centers worldwide with the help of the cloud and hardware upgrades". The company's plan is to shift more and more tasks to the cloud so that it can open up data centers in locations that have lower costs and lower taxes. Cloud technology will be utilized in order to ensure that the company's engineers will be able to design chips successfully no matter where they are. The cost cutting will help AMD, but it will also help other competitors, as each moves to utilize the benefits of the cloud era.
Texas Instruments (TXN) recently introduced "the industry's most highly integrated audio codec with embedded miniDSP cores, providing echo and noise cancellation at wideband voice sampling rates up to 16 kHz". This is another company making innovative changes in the market.
While Intel is doing a great job, there are other companies that are doing even better in terms of the uniqueness and originality of their developments. Do look for Intel's newest endeavors to formulate. Perhaps the new cloud idealism and the new smartphone release will help the company pick up where it has fallen a bit.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.