Fri, Mar. 27, 3:47 PM
- The WSJ reports Intel (INTC +5.9%) is in talks to buy FPGA vendor/foundry partner Altera (ALTR +22.7%). Shares of both companies have surged in response. With Altera currently sporting a $12.7B market cap, the deal would be the biggest in Intel's history, and one of the biggest in the chip industry's M&A/consolidation wave.
- Intel struck a foundry deal with Altera in 2013, and is set to produce 14nm chips for the company. Altera's FPGAs are found in plenty of products containing Intel's Xeon server CPUs or network processors. The companies have also collaborated on a solution for Web data centers that pairs a Xeon CPU and an Altera FPGA in the same package, with the latter enabling on-the-fly programmability.
- Altera archrival Xilinx (XLNX +5%) and smaller rival Lattice (LSCC +3.7%) have also spiked higher.
- Update (4:00PM ET): The full story is now out. The WSJ states deal terms and timing are unknown.
- Update 2 (4:08PM): Bloomberg has joined the WSJ in reporting of deal talks. Intel closed up 6.4%, and Altera closed up 28.4%.
Thu, Mar. 26, 5:11 PM
- Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and NAND flash partner Micron's (NASDAQ:MU) 3D NAND solution enables chips with 384Gb (48GB) of capacity, or 3x that of existing 3D NAND parts. The companies promise "gum stick-sized SSDs with more than 3.5 terabytes of storage and standard 2.5-inch SSDs with greater than 10TB."
- Along with higher densities, Intel/Micron promise lower costs, improved read/write performance, and new sleep modes that cut power to inactive parts of a chip. A 256Gb multi-level cell (MLC) chip is sampling today, while a 384Gb tri-level cell (TLC) chip will sample later this spring. Mass-production is expected by Q4; Intel and Micron both plan to launch SSD lines relying on the chips "within the next year." SA author Electric Phred previously argued Intel/Micron could have a big cost advantage.
- The offerings take aim at Samsung, which has been shipping 3D NAND parts for several months, as well as Toshiba and partner SanDisk (SNDK - fell 18.5% today due to a Q1/2015 warning). Today, Toshiba/SanDisk announced a 48-layer 128Gb 3G NAND solution - the Intel/Micron solution features 32 layers, as do Samsung's current chips. The SanDisk/Toshiba offering relies on an advanced 15nm manufacturing process and is sampling today, but full commercial production isn't expected until 2016.
- Needham's Rajvindra Gill (Strong Buy on Micron) is pleased with today's news. "We think MU’s strategy of optimizing bits per area is the right approach in 3D NAND." At the same time, he notes Samsung's 3D offerings deliver major endurance, performance, and power benefits relative to 2D NAND.
- In other Intel-related news, the WSJ reports HP is close to selling a 51% stake in its H3C Chinese networking hardware unit to Tsinghua Unigroup. With Intel taking a 20% stake in Tsinghua last year as part of a mobile processor alliance, a deal could lead to greater use of Intel's CPUs, network processors, and switching chips within H3C's hardware.
- Intel doesn't separately break out its NAND sales. The business is part of an "All other" reporting segment that had 2014 revenue of $2.25B (+18% Y/Y). After initially falling due to SanDisk's warning, Micron closed up 0.3% today. Intel closed up 0.6%.
- Update: AnandTech estimates the Intel/Micron solution has an array efficiency (the % of the die that's dedicated to memory cells) of 85%, above the 66% and 72% respectively estimated for MLC and TLC Samsung chips. "I now understand why Intel-Micron claim that their 3D NAND technology comes with disruptive cost because it really is the most efficient 3D NAND technology we have seen so far."
Thu, Mar. 19, 10:05 AM
- With Apple Watch set to ship next month, leading high-end Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer plans to launch a watch that runs on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Wear platform, and is powered by an Intel (INTC +0.1%) CPU.
- The PR provides few details about the watch, but Reuters reports the product will be a version of Tag's bestselling Carrera line, and launch next autumn. With Carerra watches often priced above $2K, the deal will likely be more valuable to Intel as a reference win - the vast majority of early smartwatch launches have involved ARM-based CPUs - than as a revenue-generator.
- Intel is going after the wearables market by pitching its Atom CPUs for relatively powerful devices, and its tiny Quark CPUs for less resource-hungry products where battery life is a priority. It has also launched Curie, a button-sized module containing a Quark CPU, flash memory, Bluetooth radio, and sensor hub. The company has a partnership with eyewear giant Luxottica, and has reportedly landed a design win for the next version of Google Glass.
- Separately, IBM (IBM +0.2%) has announced the first OpenPower servers - servers running on IBM's Power CPUs (compete against Intel's Xeon line), but which can be made by 3rd-party OEMs and could sell for much less than IBM's Power-based servers historically have - will launch in Q2 and be sold by Taiwanese manufacturer Tyan. IBM plans to offer its own OpenPower servers later this year in partnership with Taiwan's Wistron; they'll be aimed at the high-performance computing (HPC) market.
- Google, Nvidia, Mellanox, and Rackspace are among the companies that have given their support to OpenPower. IBM is both hoping to halt Power's long-term share losses to Intel, and grab a bigger share of an Internet/white-box server market (dominated by Intel systems) that accounts for a large and growing portion of global server spend.
Thu, Mar. 19, 9:18 AM
Fri, Mar. 13, 2:19 PM
- Canaccord's Matt Ramsay has upgraded Intel (INTC -0.6%) to Buy a day after the company issued a Q1 warning blamed on weak business PC sales and lower-than-expected customer inventories. CLSA has also upgraded, albeit only to Underperform from Sell.
- Ramsay: "[W]e believe the removal of unrealistic PC expectations actually makes Intel shares more investible and the Win10/Skylake refreshes during 2H/15 could even provide modest upside to lower expectations ... We believe 15%+ [server CPU division] and 20%+ [IoT chip division] growth expectations are quite achievable for the next several years, growing non-PC sales to >50% of Intel’s revenue by 2017..."
- Intel's mobile division (MCG) performance is also expected to improve, though Ramsay considers an iPhone baseband win unlikely. "With lower platform costs and gradual LTE and SoFIA revenue ramps, we anticipate lower losses in MCG in 2015 and materially lower losses in 2016. We believe LTE connectivity in PCs could emerge as an underappreciated LTE modem driver..."
- Others on the Street have reacted more cautiously, with several analysts noting Intel's forecast is backed up by negative Asian supply chain data. Susquehanna's Chris Caso thinks the euro's weakness - it's selling off again today - is playing a big role. "Since PC component costs are all in dollars (and are priced accordingly in Euros), the exceptional Euro weakness has caused PC prices to rise dramatically in Europe."
- Meanwhile, though the warning has grabbed far more headlines, Intel has been busy this week refreshing its server CPU lineup. The company has launched Xeon D, an SoC that's based on the 14nm Broadwell architecture, sports a built-in memory controller and two 10-gig Ethernet links, and is aimed at Web servers and storage/networking hardware. Facebook's Open Compute Project has unveiled an open-source server design that relies on Xeon D.
Fri, Mar. 13, 3:21 AM
- In the latest sign of weakening demand for personal computers, International Data Corp. predicts global shipments of PCs will decline 4.9% this year to 293.1M units, a bigger drop than its previous guidance for a 3.3% decrease.
- According to market research firm, the PC market declined 0.8% to $201B last year and is expected to drop an additional 6.9% in 2015, with smaller declines in coming years, reducing the market to $175B by 2019.
- Previously: Intel -4.1% on Q1 warning; other PC industry names also fall (Mar. 12 2015)
- Related stocks: OTC:ASIYF, AMD, HPQ, INTC, OTCPK:LNVGY, MSFT, MU, NVDA, SNE, STX, OTCPK:TOSYY, WDC
Thu, Mar. 12, 9:17 AM
- Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) now expects Q1 revenue of $12.5B-$13.1B, below prior guidance of $13.2B-$14.2B and a $13.7B consensus. Gross margin guidance remains at 60% (+/- 2%), with lower volumes offset by higher ASPs.
- "All other expectations" have been withdrawn - that presumably includes full-year guidance for mid-single digit revenue growth. Guidance will be updated during Intel's April 14 Q1 report.
- The chip giant blames the warning on "weaker than expected demand for business desktop PCs and lower than expected inventory levels across the PC supply chain." In particular, it thinks "lower than expected Windows XP* refresh in small and medium business and increasingly challenging macroeconomic and currency conditions, particularly in Europe," are taking a toll on sales. Server CPU division sales are "meeting expectations."
- Other PC-exposed names are following Intel lower: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -2.4% premarket, AMD -2.8%, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) -2.5%, HP (NYSE:HPQ) -2.3%, Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) -2.5%, Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) -2.7%, Micron (NASDAQ:MU) -3.6%.
- Update (11:35AM ET): While Intel is still down over 4%, Micron and Seagate have turned positive, and HP is close to breakeven. Microsoft, Nvidia, and Western Digital have pared their losses, but remain lower.
Wed, Mar. 11, 10:36 AM
- VentureBeat reports Intel's (INTC +3.7%) recently-announced XMM 7360 4G baseband modem (made by its Infineon unit) will go into 2016 iPhone units aimed at emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, thus partly taking a slot reserved for several years by Qualcomm's (QCOM -0.9%) Gobi modems.
- The site adds Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) engineers "have been making trips to Munich, Germany to work with Intel engineers to ready the Intel LTE chip for the iPhone," and that Intel "has been willing to go a long way to get its LTE chips into Apple phones." Infineon was once the iPhone's (3G) baseband supplier, before Apple switched to Qualcomm.
- The XMM 7360 supports Cat-10 LTE (450 Mbps peak download speeds), as well as 3x carrier aggregation. Qualcomm, which still claims the lion's share of the 4G baseband market, announced a Cat-10 LTE modem (the Gobi 9x45) last November that was declared to offer better power consumption and take up less board space than the prior-gen/Cat-6 9x35.
- Apple sold 193M iPhones last year, and will likely top 200M this year. As is the case with many other clients, Qualcomm's modem sales to Apple help enable the sale of several complementary parts - an RF transceiver, a power management IC, a receive-only chip, and an envelope-tracking IC that lowers power draw.
- Intel is up sharply today after selling off hard yesterday amid a market rout. The chip giant has already seen 18.2M shares traded vs.a 3-month daily average of 29M.
Mon, Mar. 9, 2:00 PM
- Apple's (AAPL +1.5%) long-rumored 12" retina MacBook has been unveiled - it's declared to be the thinnest and lightest MacBook Apple has ever made, as well as the first fanless MacBook. It's 13.1mm thin, and weighs just 2 pounds. For reference, the current 11" and 13" MacBook Airs respectively weigh 2.38 and 2.96 pounds.
- The 12" MacBook has an all-metal enclosure, a new keyboard that's thinner and provides more precise/accurate keystrokes, and a clickless "Force Touch" trackpad with haptic force sensors (enables pressure-sensitive "Force Clicks"). Engadget wonders if Synaptics' (SYNA) ForcePad tech is being used. Immersion (IMMR +5%) has spiked higher, perhaps on hopes Apple rivals will adopt its haptic tech.
- Some specs: A 2304x1440 display that consumes 30% less power than prior displays; a 14nm Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Core M CPU (cores clocked up to 1.3GHz., rising to 2.9GHz. with Turbo Boost); 9 hours of battery life for wireless Web browsing; a single USB-C (reversible) connector that can serve as a data, power, or video-out (HDMI/VGA) connector.
- The 12" MacBook begins shipping on April 10, and will be offered via $1299 and $1599 models; the costlier model has a faster CPU and twice the storage.
- Also: 1) Apple has updated the 13" MacBook Pro, providing it with faster CPUs, and flash memory, improved battery life, and the Force Touch trackpad. The MacBook Air line has also received CPU and flash upgrades. 2) Apple has unveiled ResearchKit, an open-source software framework for medical researchers that enables diagnostics iPhone apps.
- Live stream. Live blogs: The Verge, Engadget.
- Earlier: Apple cuts Apple TV price, confirms HBO Now partnership
Sat, Mar. 7, 3:26 PM
- With Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Grantley Xeon CPU launch and Web data center investments offsetting weak high-end server demand, IDC estimates global server revenue rose 1.9% Y/Y in Q4 to $14.5B, and Gartner estimates it rose 2.2% to $14B; those figures compares with Q3 growth estimates of 4.8% and 1.7%, respectively.
- Likewise, IDC estimates global enterprise storage revenue rose 7.2% Y/Y in Q4, aided by Web investments and healthy demand for mid-range systems featuring integrated flash. Q3 growth was pegged at 5.1%.
- IBM had a rough time its both the server and storage markets: IDC believes its storage share fell to 9% (tied for #3) from 12.7% a year earlier, and Gartner estimates its server revenue fell 14% if one excludes Big Blue's x86 server unit, which was just sold to Lenovo. After accounting for the x86 sale, IDC estimates IBM's server share was at 13.7% (#3) vs. 26.8% a year ago.
- HP (NYSE:HPQ) fared a little better: IDC has its server share falling fractionally to 26.8% (still #1 overall), and its storage share falling to 13.8% (#2) from 14.1%. The company's x86 server unit has been gaining ground against IBM's former business, but its high-end server sales remain weak.
- Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) UCS server line (recently refreshed) continues to gain ground: Its share rose to 5.3% (#5) from 4.5%, with full-year revenue pegged at $2.9B. With the help of aggressive pricing and x86 growth, Dell's server share rose to 16.7% (#2) from 15.2%, while its storage share slipped to 9% (tied for #3) from 9.2%. Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) claimed a 7.6% server share (#4) thanks to the IBM deal, kicking Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) out of the top-5 along the way.
- EMC, whose high-end storage sales have been pressured (mid-range/flash demand has been better), saw its storage share drop to 22.2% (still #1) from 23.1%. NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), which posted an FQ3 miss and light guidance last month amid tough mid-range competition from EMC and others, saw its share drop to 7.2% (#5) from 8%.
- Not surprisingly, the white-label hardware beloved by Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. continued to take share. IDC estimates such hardware, referred to as ODM Direct, claimed server and storage shares of 8.2% and 12.8% vs. 6.4% and 9.9% a year ago.
- Sales of x86 servers, the lion's share of which run on Intel CPUs, rose 7.1% to $11.5B. Sales of non-x86 servers fell 14% to $3B, thanks to declining demand for both mainframes and UNIX servers running proprietary RISC CPUs. "Early-stage revenue" was seen for ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) servers, largely via HP's Moonshot line.
- Other companies with strong server and/or storage exposure: STX, WDC, SMCI, MLNX, AVGO, QLGC, RHT
Mon, Mar. 2, 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.
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