Today, 6:39 PM
- Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has been busy on the first day of the Mobile World Congress, announcing refreshes (and new names) for its mobile processor and modem lineups, as well as new security software OEM deals and alliances with telecom equipment vendors.
- Intel's SoFIA baseband/app processor line, aimed at low-end Android devices, has launched as the Atom x3 line. Three processors are offered - one has a dual-core, 1GHz. CPU and 3G modem, another (made by partner Rockchip) a quad-core, 1.2GHz. CPU and 3G modem, and a third a quad-core 1.4GHz. CPU and 4G modem. Notably, SoFIA uses ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) Mali GPU cores, and relies on an older 28nm manufacturing process.
- Also officially launched: Cherry Trail, the 14nm successor to the 22nm Bay Trail line as Intel's entry for the tablet and small-screen convertible market, and whose processors will be sold under the Atom x5 and x7 monikers.
- Relatively few details were provided about x5/x7 parts, which leads AnandTech to suspect they're aimed at late 1H15 and 2H15 products. Intel does note x5/x7 processors will sport powerful Gen 8 GPUs, and (as rumored) the company's next-gen Airmont CPU core.
- The XMM 7360, the latest entry for Intel's standalone baseband modem line, supports Cat-10 LTE (peak speeds of 450Mbps). The prior-gen XMM 7260 topped out at Cat-6 (peak speeds of 300Mbps); Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unveiled a Cat-10 modem last November.
- Other announcements: 1) Intel's McAfee unit's VirusScan Mobile software will be pre-installed on Samsung's Galaxy S6, and McAfee's Mobile Security software will be bundled with an LG smartwatch; a pre-install deal already exists for LG smartphones. 2) Intel is partnering with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Huawei on creating a variety of network management and radio network hardware running on (Intel-powered) servers.
- Intel is hoping the efforts will bolster a mobile chip division that (thanks in large part to marketing subsidies) posted a $1.1B op. loss in Q4, and a $4.2B op. loss for 2014. Nomura and Wells Fargo are optimistic SoFIA can provide a lift.
- Shares rose 2.4% today to $34.06, aided by a chip stock rally that followed the NXP/Freescale deal.
Wed, Feb. 25, 12:43 PM
- As of 2012, Cisco (CSCO -0.9%) had 60 products on a Chinese government list of products approved for purchase by state entities. As of late 2014, it had none, according to Reuters' analysis of government data.
- PC/server virtualization software vendor Citrix (CTXS +0.5%) has also seen its products disappear from the list, as have Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) McAfee security software unit. While the total number of products on the list has risen by over 2K since 2012 (to nearly 5K), the number of approved foreign tech brands has fallen by a third.
- The data highlights the ripple effects of the 2013 NSA spying uproar, as well as China's broader interest in promoting local tech firms relative to foreign suppliers. Bloomberg reported in December the Chinese government is "aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020."
- Cisco's Chinese sales have already been under heavy pressure for several quarters. Thanks in part to the government's efforts, the networking giant's Chinese orders fell 19% Y/Y in the January quarter, compared with just a 1% drop for other Asia-Pac markets.
- Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY), ZTE (OTCPK:ZTCOY), and Huawei are among the local firms likely to benefit from the government's attempts to buy local.
Wed, Feb. 18, 7:02 PM
- Looking to fend off MediaTek, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and other hungry rivals, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has launched two new 4G baseband/app processors apiece for its mid-range Snapdragon 400 and 600 lines. It has also abandoned its Gobi baseband modem brand in favor of a branding scheme featuring the letter X followed by a number.
- The Snapdragon 618 and 620 are the first announced parts to use ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) recently-launched, high-end, Cortex-A72, CPU core: The 618 features two of them at speeds of up to 1.8GHz., and the 620 four of them at up to 1.8GHz. Both chips also contain four low-power Cortex-A53 cores for less demanding tasks, and an X8 Cat-7 LTE modem (300Mbps downlink). The Gobi 9x45, announced in November, supports Cat-10 LTE (450Mbps downlink).
- The Snapdragon 415 and 425 each sport four high-power and four low-power Cortex-A53 cores, with the high-power cores respectively clocked at 1.4GHz. and 1.7GHz. The 415 has an X5 Cat. 4 LTE modem (150Mbps downlink), and the 425 an X8 modem.
- Qualcomm notes the 415/425 are the first 8-core 400 series parts, and that the 618/620 "include features previously only available in the Snapdragon 800 tier, including dual ISP camera, 4K video capture and playback, HEVC hardware encoding, richer gaming ... and advanced Wi-Fi connectivity." AnandTech: "Today Qualcomm raised the bar for low- and mid-range SoCs."
- The company is just three weeks removed from stating it's "seeing heightened competition in China at the mid and high tiers," as it deals with aggressive pricing from MediaTek, Spreadtrum, and others. Intel is also trying hard to gain ground in China and other emerging markets, both through its low-end SoFIA processors and alliances with Chinese chipmakers.
Tue, Feb. 3, 7:25 PM
- ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) new Cortex-A72 CPU core, aimed at processors going into high-end mobile devices in 2016 and later, is said to deliver a ~90% performance boost relative to devices with processors relying on the prior-gen Cortex-A57, and 3.5x the performance of the older/widely-used Cortex-A15. ARM also claims a 75% cut in power draw relative to A15 processors, if performance is kept equal. (PR)
- A clock speed of 2.5GHz. is delivered when using TSMC's 16nm manufacturing process within a "mobile power envelope," and higher speeds when used in larger devices (servers?) with less demanding power constraints. ARM promises enough horsepower to play 4K video at 120fps.
- Also launched: The Mali-T880, a high-end mobile GPU core said to offer an 80% performance gain relative to the prior-gen T760 - it will compete against Imagination's (OTCPK:IGNMF) high-end PowerVR cores - and the CoreLink CCI-500, an SoC interconnect that provides twice the peak memory bandwidth as its predecessor and consumes less power.
- ARM is counting on the offerings to help it stave off Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which (with the help of generous marketing subsidies) has grabbed a decent chunk of the Android tablet CPU market (it has made less progress with smartphones). It's also looking to keep its CPU core lineup competitive with the custom ARM cores developed by Apple, Qualcomm, and Nvidia.
- Q4 results arrive on Feb. 11.
Mon, Feb. 2, 2:17 PM
- AMD is making "real progress" in its efforts to offset declining PC CPU/GPU sales by growing sales of embedded/custom processors, declares Barron's in a positive weekend piece.
- The paper also highlights new CEO Lisa Su's cost-cutting efforts, and quotes Ascendiant Capital's Cody Acree as arguing AMD is winning back significant GPU share from Nvidia (NVDA +1.1%). Acree adds AMD has grabbed enterprise PC design win share that hasn't yet translated into revenue.
- Jon Peddie Research estimates AMD's PC GPU share fell 5.8% Y/Y in Q3 to 14.1%, and that Nvidia's share fell 1.6% to 14.1%. Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) share is estimated to have risen 7.5% to 71.8%, thanks to rising sales of CPUs with integrated GPUs.
- Barron's does caution AMD's long-term debt load ($2.2B) now exceeds its market cap. But it also points out most of the debt doesn't mature before 2019, and that the company has $1B+ in cash/equivalents and a $400M credit facility to help pay its bills in the near-term.
Mon, Feb. 2, 10:13 AM
- Intel (INTC -0.7%) is acquiring Lantiq Semiconductor, a German developer of modem/transceiver chipsets and SoCs for home/office broadband hardware and carrier access equipment. Terms are undisclosed; presumably, the deal will be paid for with offshore cash.
- Lantiq's product line includes chips for DSL infrastructure gear, VoIP devices, GPON fiber-to-the-home networks, and DSL/Wi-Fi, Ethernet/Wi-Fi, and DSL/4G home gateways. The company has over 2K patents and design wins for hardware used on 100+ carrier networks.
- Intel declares the acquisition will "expand Intel's success in the cable residential gateway market and broaden its offering to other gateway markets, including DSL, Fiber, LTE, retail and IoT smart routers," and that pairing Intel's cable modem/gateway chip ops (i.e. the Puma line) with Lantiq's tech and talent "can allow global service providers to introduce new home computing experiences and enable consumers to take advantage of a more smart and connected home."
- Broadcom (BRCM -3.5%) isn't reacting well to the news. The company counts Intel as a major competitor in the cable modem/gateway and Wi-Fi chip markets (among others), and Lantiq as a major rival in the DSL and GPON chip markets. Shares rallied last Friday in response to Broadcom's Q4 beat.
- The purchase comes six months after Intel agreed to buy LSI/Avago's Axxia network processor unit (competes against Broadcom and several other firms) for $650M.
Tue, Jan. 27, 9:22 AM
- After selling off yesterday in response to Seagate's guidance, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and HP (NYSE:HPQ) are showing steep losses in premarket trading today after Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reported 13% Y/Y drops in both its Windows OEM Pro and non-Pro revenue, and offered conservative guidance. Microsoft is down 8.3%, and Nasdaq 100 futures are off 1.4%.
- Microsoft blamed the Windows OEM Pro decline on slowing business PC demand (following a boost driven by the end of Win. XP support), an unfavorable mix, and academic discounts. The OEM non-Pro decline was blamed on a mix shift towards cheaper hardware for which the software giant has cut or eliminated Windows licensing fees.
- Microsoft's server/data center-related sales were healthier: Server product/services revenue rose 9%, and commercial cloud revenue (Office 365/Azure) grew 114%. But on the CC (transcript), the company stated transactional server revenue "was down primarily due to a declining traditional server market." A shift in demand towards Web/cloud data centers often relying on Linux servers might also be a factor here.
Mon, Jan. 26, 11:27 AM
- Seagate slightly missed calendar Q4 revenue guidance and guided for calendar Q1 revenue of "at least $3.45 billion," compared with a $3.59B consensus.
- The hard drive giant reported 4% Y/Y Q4 increase in PC drive shipments - notebooks were up, desktops were down - and a 17% increase in enterprise shipments (lifted by demand from Internet giants).
- Intel (INTC -1.8%), HP (HPQ -3%), and NetApp (NTAP -2%) are all selling off on a day the Nasdaq is near breakeven. Intel has already guided for its PC CPU division's sales to drop by a low-single digit % in 2015, but has also forecast its server CPU division's sales will see a 15% CAGR through 2018.
- Separately, the WSJ reports (citing an internal e-mail) HP has named a new leader for its H3C Technologies Chinese networking hardware unit, following worker protests. The paper reported in October HP wants to sell at least a 51% stake in the business, as China tries to cut its reliance on U.S. IT hardware in the wake of the 2013 NSA spying uproar.
Fri, Jan. 23, 9:15 AM
Thu, Jan. 22, 2:54 PM
- Amazon (AMZN +4.3%) has acquired Annapurna Labs, an Israeli chipmaker that has provided few details about the silicon it's working on. The NYT reports the purchase price is $350M. The WSJ previously reported of a $350M deal price, while adding the final tab could be $375M if certain conditions are met.
- According to the WSJ's sources, Annapurna is developing "midrange networking chips for data centers, offering improvements over existing products in terms of information-transmission rates and power consumption." Israel's Calcalist reports the company is developing "microprocessors that allow fast data traffic for low-power computing servers and storage servers." It also notes CPU core giant ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) is an investor.
- AWS' data centers contain hundreds of thousands of servers running Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) x86 CPUs. Though Amazon has downplayed the efforts of 3rd-party ARM server CPU vendors, it has also hired several key engineers from defunct ARM CPU vendor Calxeda, a move that has fueled speculation Amazon is prepping its own ARM server chips. Annapurna could assist with the effort.
- The news comes on a day in which Piper has assigned AWS a ~$32B valuation.
- Earlier: Amazon rallies following eBay's earnings
Tue, Jan. 20, 9:46 AM
- "Our diligence with industry sources revealed that there has been a sharp reduction in server activity entering 2015," writes JMP, downgrading Intel (INTC) to Market Underperform and setting a $30 target five days after the chip giant's Q4 report. (source: Notable Calls)
- JMP adds there's a risk of excess server CPU inventory following a Q4 in which division sales rose 11% Q/Q and 25% Y/Y (easily outpacing PC CPU division growth of 3% Y/Y).
- Intel has forecast server CPU division sales will post a 15% CAGR through 2018, aided by strong Web/cloud and HPC server demand. PC CPU division sales, on the other hand, are expected to fall by a low-single digit % this year, after rising 4% in 2014.
- Shares are off modestly following the downgrade. Intel currently goes for 15x 2015E EPS.
- Update (10:35AM): Intel is now down 1.5%.
Fri, Jan. 16, 12:43 PM
- Intel (INTC -0.4%) is off fractionally after providing in-line revenue guidance and a soft gross margin forecast to go with a Q4 beat. Charter Equity has downgraded to Market Perform, and Stifel (Buy) has upped its target by $2 to $41.
- Not surprisingly, bulls are focusing heavily on the 25% Y/Y growth posted by Intel's server CPU unit (DCG). Jefferies: "To say DCG is a hidden gem is an understatement ... all four segments (Enterprise, Cloud, High-Performance Computing, Networking) posted growth. We think Intel’s new server cycle (Grantley) helps in 2015, but view drivers in DCG to be largely secular."
- Also going over well: Intel's 2014 capex ($10.1B) was below prior guidance of $10.5B-$11.5B, and its 2015 guidance midpoint is only at $10B. Wells Fargo observes the 2014/2015 figures are below 2011-2013 levels of $10.7B-$11B, even though "2015 revenue that is likely to be substantially higher than in any of these years."
- Those less positive often highlight slowing PC CPU growth. Ascendiant Capital thinks Q4 PC CPU division revenue ($8.9B, +3%) fell short of a $9.2B consensus. "It looks as though the upgrade cycle is tapering off and we expect a return of a secular declining PC market in 2015." Bernstein, reiterating inventory concerns: "Intel’s [PC] unit shipments still remain well above market data on a YoY basis, and account receivable DSOs increased sharply."
- Intel has guided for PC division sales to fall by a low-single digit % in 2015, following a strong 2014 boosted by an inventory refresh and share gains against AMD (AMD -4.2%). AMD, which reports on Jan. 20, is selling off today.
- On the CC (transcript) CEO Brian Krzanich stated Intel shipped 46M tablet CPUs in 2014, beating a goal of 40M, and that the company is committed to driving out $800M in mobile chip unit costs in 2015. Thanks in large part to heavy marketing subsidies, the unit posted a $4.2B 2014 op. loss.
- Prior Intel earnings coverage
- Update: With the help of a tech rally, Intel closed up 0.7%. AMD closed down 5.2%.
Fri, Jan. 16, 10:54 AM
- Arguing Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) manufacturing process lead threatens Qualcomm's (QCOM -0.5%) mobile processor share, Drexel Hamilton's Rick Whittington has downgraded the mobile chip/IP giant to Hold, and cut his target by $25 to $75.
- Whittington observes Intel is now selling 14nm processors - its 14nm Cherry Trail tablet CPUs recently began shipping - while Qualcomm has just begun selling 20nm processors (made by TSMC). He adds top foundries are slow to ramp 14nm and 16nm FinFET processes - Samsung/Globalfoundries are rolling out the former, TSMC the latter - and that Intel "also appears set on commoditizing low-mid-range LTE [baseband modems] for incorporation in their mobile processor offerings, conjuring a price war."
- Worth noting: 1) While Intel has begun offering powerful app processors that leverage advanced manufacturing processes, it hasn't launched high-end baseband/app processors that can take on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 series. 2) A large portion of Intel's low-end efforts - both for app processors and baseband/app processors - are tied to alliances with Chinese chipmakers who (like Qualcomm) rely on 3rd-party foundries.
- Qualcomm is off modestly following the downgrade. FQ1 results arrive on Jan. 28.
Thu, Jan. 15, 4:33 PM
- Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) had a Q4 gross margin of 65.4%, +40 bps Q/Q and +340 bps Y/Y, above a guidance midpoint of 64%, and contributing heavily to its EPS beat. However, GM is expected to fall to 60% (+/- 2%) in seasonally weak Q1, and 2015 GM guidance of 62% (+/- 2%) is mostly below a 2014 figure of 63.7%.
- In its CFO commentary (.pdf), Intel states higher platform unit costs and higher factory start-up costs will respectively have 200 bps and 150 bps Q1 impacts on GM relative to Q4. Lower platform volumes will have a 100 bps impact, and higher platform write-offs (mostly related to the next-gen Skylake platform) a 50 bps impact.
- PC CPU division performance: Revenue +3% Y/Y to $8.9B. Volumes +6%, ASPs -2% (mix shift to Atom). Desktop volumes +1%, ASPs flat. Notebook volumes +11%, ASPs -3%. Op. profit +18% $3.98B.
- Server CPU division performance: Revenue +25% to $4.1B (boosted by the Grantley launch and cloud demand). Volumes +15%, ASPs +10%. Op. profit +39% to $2.23B.
- With marketing subsidies to OEMs still taking a toll, the mobile chip division posted a $1.11B op. loss on official revenue of -$6M. The IoT Group had revenue of $591M (+10%), and a $185M op. profit. Software/services had revenue of $557M (-6%), and a $25M op. profit. Everything else produced revenue of $617M (+23%), and had an op. loss of $856M (includes one-time costs).
- $4B was spent on buybacks vs. $4.2B in Q3. R&D/MG&A spend rose 4% Y/Y to $5B.
- The 2015 capex budget is at $10B (+/- $500M). At the time of the Q3 report, the 2014 budget was $11B (+/- $500M).
- INTC -1.2% AH. Q3 results, PR.
Thu, Jan. 15, 4:04 PM| 59 Comments
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