Nvidia's (NVDA) Project Denver (involves CPUs based on custom ARM cores) is only aimed at the mobile market for now, though the chipmaker is keeping its server options open, says a spokesman.
Nvidia announced its first Denver CPU - a dual-core mobile chip expected in 2H14 - under the Tegra K1 moniker in January. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has previously said Nvidia is "seeing a lot of interest in putting something like Tegra in micro servers." This week, Nvidia showed off a solution that pairs its Tesla HPC GPUs with 3rd-party ARM (ARMH) server CPUs.
Meanwhile, a source tells the WSJ Samsung has decided to drop its ARM server CPU efforts. The company was previously reported to be working on ARM server parts with the help of AMD-poached talent.
AppliedMicro (AMCC) and Cavium (CAVM) must be pleased. Each has bet big on the budding ARM server CPU market, hoping to tap into growing interest in using them in microservers, application-specific hardware (e.g. networking or security gear), and hyperscale data centers. AMD, Marvell, and TI have also announced or launched parts.
The WSJ also reports Qualcomm (QCOM) is "working on [ARM] server chips," though no announcements have been made yet.
CEO Steve Mollenkopf hinted at CES Qualcomm, which has a huge R&D budget at its disposal, could go after the market. "I think there's going to be a tremendous amount of growth in computing and resources dedicated to supporting the cloud ... We look at that as an opportunity."
The consolidation wave that has hit the semi industry could soon yield tax inversion deals for foreign firms similar to deals seen in the healthcare industry, says FBR's Christopher Rolland.
Inversion deals allow U.S. companies buying foreign firms to see lower tax rates if less than 80% of the equity in the new company is owned by legacy U.S. shareholders, and the post-merger company has substantial foreign ops.
Rolland thinks ARM (ARMH), NXP (NXPI), Mellanox (MLNX), and Taiwan's MediaTek could be among the foreign companies targeted by U.S. chipmakers. Worth noting: Mellanox sells more than just chips, and ARM's business model depends on the company maintaining a neutral status within the industry.
Meanwhile, Nomura's Romit Shah names 15 potential M&A candidates, and divides them into 3 groups: "Sub-scale companies" with high margins and strong IP; "strategic companies" with compelling product lines; and "undervalued companies."
Canaccord's Matthew Ramsay has launched coverage of AppliedMicro (AMCC) with a Buy and $16 PT, and on fellow ARM (ARMH) server CPU play Cavium (CAVM) with a Buy and $62 PT.
Ramsay sees ARM designs grabbing 20% of a 2018 server CPU market he expects will be worth $19B (up from a current $12B).
Though software support and the dominance of Intel's x86 CPUs act as challenges, there's plenty of optimism about the ability of ARM designs to address demand for low-power CPUs for hyperscale deployments, as well as to cater to application-specific niches better than general-purpose Intel CPUs.
Cavium is going after the latter opportunity with its Project Thunder CPUs - Ramsay expects strong sales growth starting in 2H15. In the near-term, he expects a 50% 2013 increase in Cavium's core network processor design wins to drive 20%+ revenue growth.
As for AppliedMicro, he sees the early lead for the company's X-Gene ARM CPUs - parts have been sampling for nearly a year, and plenty of software testing has been done - allowing AppliedMicro to hit its target of doubling quarterly sales by the end of 2016.
Cavium recently unveiled ThunderX, a next-gen solution supporting up to 48 home-grown ARM cores (requires a costly architectural license) - chips meant specifically for networking, storage, and security hardware will be offered. AppliedMicro is prepping next-gen X-Gene CPUs supporting up to 16 cores.
Ciena is flying higher after beating FQ2 estimates and issuing above-consensus FQ3 guidance. As is its custom, rival Infinera (INFN +2.2%) is heading in the same direction as Ciena, as are component vendors Finisar (FNSR +3.6%) and JDS Uniphase (JDSU +1.7%).
Other gainers include deep packet inspection hardware vendors Allot (ALLT +5.5%) and Procera (PKT +3%), access/metro equipment provider Adtran (ADTN +3%), network processor developer Cavium (CAVM +1.2%), and carrier Wi-Fi hardware vendor Ruckus (RKUS +1.8%). An upbeat Oppenheimer note could be contributing to Allot's gains.
The rally comes a few days after Ciena and other industry names fell due to a Jefferies report stating AT&T has slashed wireline capex ahead of the DirecTV deal's closing and the full rollout of its giant Domain 2.0 SDN/NFV initiative.
Though the Nasdaq is up 0.7%, many chip stocks are heading in the opposite direction (SOXX -0.6%) after Intel provided mixed Q1 top-line numbers for its business units - server chip sales were healthy, mobile sales were weak, and PC sales were in between - ASML lowered its 1H14 sales outlook and provided cautious 2H remarks (has dinged many chip equipment stocks), and Linear offered somewhat soft March quarter guidance.
Notable decliners: CRUS -3.3%. ENTR -3.3%. QUIK -2.4%. CAVM -2%. PSMI -3.6%. ADI -2.3%. TXN -1.4%. MXIM -1.5%. FCS -1.5%. The last four companies all compete against Linear.
Himax (HIMX -1.5%) is off after Chardan Capital lowered its PT to $9 from $12; the firm downgraded Himax in January. Shares tumbled on Monday, then ticked higher on Tuesday following a Q1 pre-announcement.
Chip stocks are outperforming (SOXX +1.1%) after Avago (AVGO +5.1%) posted an FQ1 beat and strong margin numbers (albeit while guiding light, as many expected), and STMicroelectronics (STM +3.9%) exec Paul Grimme states his company's European sales are stabilizing, with Germany leading the way.
Notable winners: AMBA +5.4%. AMCC +5.2%. CRUS +3.3%. SWKS +3%. QUIK +4.1%. INVN +2.7%. RFMD +3.5%. TQNT +3%. SIMO +2.7%. CAVM +3.6%. Nearly all of the aforementioned names have strong mobile and/or telecom equipment exposure.
RBC has hiked its Avago PT to $66 from $64, and says the chipmaker remains its "top play on China and global LTE deployments." With LSI in tow, the firm thinks FY15 (ends Oct. '15) EPS will top $5.
Morgan Stanley ($68 PT) is confident Avago can raise LSI's op. margin to 30% from 17% over the next few years, much as the company has doubled its own op. margin to 30% post-LBO.
Nomura is reiterating a Reduce on Cavium (CAVM -2.9%), and thinks the company faces major 2014 headwinds.
Among them: The potential of the Cisco's acquisition of Sourcefire to hurt sales - whereas Sourcefire has been a buyer of Cavium's network processors, Cisco relies heavily on home-grown ASICs - and the potential for Cavium's Project Thunder (developing ARM-based server CPUs) - to fail to meet expectations.
SA contributor Ashraf Eassa recently made a bull case for Cavium in which he argued (among other things) Project Thunder's differentiated approach to the ARM server market - AMD, Marvell, and AppliedMicro are also targeting this space - could allow it to succeed. Instead of trying to compete head-on against Intel's dominant Xeon CPUs, Cavium is targeting a variety of niche applications where its integration of dedicated circuitry for specific tasks (i.e. offload engines) helps it stand out.
Shares rallied earlier this week on hopes Avago's acquisition of network processor vendor LSI would lead to M&A interest in Cavium.
Avago (AVGO +7.6%) is now up 18% (good for a $2.1B increase in market cap) since announcing a $6.6B deal to acquire LSI yesterday morning. Many of its chip industry peers have also rallied; the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOXX +1.2%) is up 2.5% over the last two days.
The sharply contrasting nature of Avago and LSI's product lines - Avago depends heavily on RF and optical component sales, while LSI depends on storage controllers/adapters and network processors - could be fueling hopes other chipmakers will use M&A to expand their product lines and achieve greater scale.
Today's notable gainers include EZchip (EZCH +6.7%), OmniVision (OVTI +3.6%), Skyworks (SWKS +3%), Cavium (CAVM +3%), Audience (ADNC +5.8%), Cirrus Logic (CRUS +3.4%), and Semtech (SMTC +3%). Cirrus and OmniVision, which both depend heavily on Apple orders, might also be getting a boost from a positive Q4 pre-announcement from Germany's Dialog Semi (gets ~70% of its sales from Apple).
Several firms have hiked their Avago PTs in response to the LSI deal, which is set to be financed with $4.6B in debt and a $1B convertible note investment from Silver Lake (conversion price of just $48.04). Nomura expects the deal to lift Avago's 2015 EPS by $1.00-$1.50; Avago is promising $200M/year in synergies by the end of FY15 (ends Nov. '15). RBC thinks FY15 EPS of ~$5 is possible; the consensus is at $3.89.
Cisco (CSCO -2.3%) is now targeting annual revenue growth of 3%-6% over the next 3-5 years, down from a prior 5%-7%, says CFO Frank Calderoni states at the networking giant's analyst meeting. In addition, Calderoni says Cisco's FY14 (ends July '14) revenue growth outlook is "basically" in-line with a Street forecast for a 4% decline.
Cisco is now aiming for services revenue growth of 7%-10% over the next 3-5 years, down from 9%-11%; services accounted for 22% of Cisco's Oct. quarter revenue. Businesses related to "enabling the cloud" (a somewhat nebulous term) are expected to show a 12%-18% growth rate.
Cisco, already pressured by John Chambers' macro comments, continues to trade lower. Many networking equipment peers and component/chip suppliers are also selling off; in addition to Cisco, Ciena's mixed FQ4 results and slightly soft FQ1 guidance could be playing a role here.