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  • Intel: Semiconductors And The Blame Game [View article]
    All those power and ground pins are there for noise immunity; oh, and with Intel and its 100 amp power supplies, yes, to keep the tiny traces from vaporizing. ARM-based chips consume nowhere near so much power. Still: all big chips need lots of power and (mostly) ground pins/leads to quiet the noise on all those signal lines interspersed with them.

    The extremely high frequency switching (GHz) makes a mess of the nice digital (square wave) signal. 64+ data pins, 64-ish address pins, dozens of control lines all switching at the same time must sound like a beehive in electronic noise (EMF/EMI). When you're running at 0.9v the sensitivity to such noise is huge compared to the old days of 5v or 3.3v. With ever-shrinking process nodes (14nm) these signals get closer and more sensitive. Throwing ground lines everywhere is a great first step to suppressing this electronic noise. I wouldn't expect fewer power and ground pins on chips any time soon, especially for those light bulbs called CPUs that require heat sinks, fans, and other forms of power/heat management.

    I don't see how quickly a processor comes out of sleep mode has much to do with power consumption. The way the OS and the software saves state (stores information on the stacks in memory) can tromp all over advances at the chip level in what may be required to pull off the stack to get back to a running mode. Security s/w, memory management, pre-loading applications - let alone "bloatware" - will complicate this greatly. How long does it take *your* PC to boot up?

    In both these cases, Intel's architecture grew up with screaming performance being its #1 priority, with little regard for efficient memory usage or power consumption. The ARM architecture and other "embedded" processors kept a close eye on power consumption and real-time response while their architectures evolved. There's a reason that Intel processors have never made it in anything that spent more than 3 hours away from a wall plug. Trying to jam a Cummings turbo-diesel into a thrifty motorcycle is going to be a monumental task; and the infrastructure for servicing or filling up 18-wheelers with fuel doesn't do you a lot of good when the new market is fond of Vespas and Hondas.

    Now, whether Intel's stock is over- or under-valued... I'll let you guys figure that out. AMD might not be the threat it once was, but there may be a long-term gasp as the high volume has shifted to battery-run smart phones and tablets with no ties to the legacy enterprise software of the PC... oh, and TVs and home gateways and automobiles...
    Nov 2, 2014. 08:07 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel Is A Buy - Samsung's First Tizen Phone Has Qualcomm Inside [View article]
    Weird article that shows how Intel is all bumbling thumbs in the smart phone industry (tho seems to imply they'll be successful in tablets for no apparent reason), and then somehow says this makes Intel a buy just because maybe they'll hold on to some key server business.

    And what makes Tizen some great consumer-demand OS? It's just another wannabe maybe backed by a frustrated, envious, schizophrenic, betting-multiple-horses (h/w & s/w) Samsung. Sounds like Samsung is a sell-sell-sell too.

    What does Intel bring to the smart phone party (now that the rave is in full bloom)? Is it those razor-thin h/w margins? Is it the phenomenal Windows 8 apps the customers so desire?

    Oh, and consumers love advertising. Gimme more!
    Jun 6, 2014. 12:54 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Intel Starting A Price War In Mobile Processors? [View article]
    Some good points in the article. However, a price war in mobile - processors already far cheaper than PC or server processors - especially at $20, $10, and giveaway prices is not going to balance well with the gut-punching Intel is seeing in the mainstream PC business or the highly profitable server business (that is also under attack). Product has got to be sold at reasonable prices. How long will mobile applications processors have to sell for $10 and under for Intel to corner the tablet and smart phone market, at which point they can raise prices to a nominal point and start making some money? Two years? Five? Is this madness?
    Dec 2, 2013. 03:33 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • They Are Having A Sale On Intel Shares Today - Don't Miss It [View article]
    Right! How much air conditioning did it take to keep those tube computers cool? And they were only reading punch cards, loading tapes, doing data processing and outputting ASCII/EBCDIC text. Gee, my Intel-based laptop still burns my leg in one spot. You know, my phone is never hot (and hasn't given me brain cancer).

    Today processors crunch through far more than just the census and numbers. They have to process signal, network, floating point, graphics, audio, images, video, motion, and so much more -- and in "real time". These are "embedded processors". Ludicrous is to think that you can just slap a PC processor in a phone and there's not much difference. I'll use your logic against you...

    Indeed, Intel has perfected the X86 architecture for running a PC and servers and Windows is tightly tied (not integrated) to it. Granted the X86 has extensions for some of those other mentioned data types. But the focus has always been on performance in the X86. This is quite at odds with designing for low power consumption. The ARM boys spent almost the same number of years focusing on conserving power in their processor designs, with performance being just appropriate for the (embedded) application. This is the reason ARM is in virtually every cell phone out there: because the battery has to last the day, or week.

    You can't be a bulldozer and a motorcycle.

    And to work out all the software details that make a cell phone, let alone smart phone, work when you've spent the last 30 years making PCs and servers run fast (and hot) and cull through databases - well, now you've got a football player and a ballerina. And yes, size matters.

    Good luck with your investments.
    Dec 1, 2013. 06:32 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel TV Flop Is Huge For Investors [View article]
    Intel had been showing assorted TV boxes for a couple years. I never did see the thrill in them no matter whose name was on them. And the cable & sat companies have pretty clunky boxes too. Indeed, TV is ripe for a really good rework. If only Steve Jobs had continued...

    Early in this article and many others - gee, the new CEO sees manufacturing as Intel's strength. Hopefully they have more than that (like their deep understanding of the intricacies of processor throughput. Foundry at Intel isn't a complete distraction, it's just a little icing and maybe to fully utilize fabs that are going idle with weak PC sales. But Intel isn't wanting to be a TSMC. Plus they build (well) big, expensive, screaming chips; not thrifty, battery powered chips.

    It escapes me how Intel has any special advantage in smart phone chips, especially with their "IA" architecture. Low power isn't 7 watts, it's half a watt in handsets. IA-based tablets are nowhere at this point. I don't see why they will suddenly overtake ARM-based designs, just because they said so.

    I don't know that Otellini was so mis-guided, or that Krzanich is a savior. Just different. I seem to remember in 2012 (or was it 2011) being told that the next year was going to be the big one.
    Nov 27, 2013. 12:59 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • They Are Having A Sale On Intel Shares Today - Don't Miss It [View article]
    Dear Author, I repeat: If we build it, they will come. Other than that crazy concept, just what is Intel bringing to the tablet and smart phone industry? Well, not much. Very good chip-building capability - oh but very expensive chips! Great understanding of all the nuances of cellular technology? Nope. An even better understanding of what it takes to entice real end users to buy the new smart phone or tablet? Nope (and this is extremely hard to figure out - Apple didn't figure it out with surveys or more-of-the-same engineering). An "in" with the carriers? Nope. Intel is a football player, now trying to play tennis.

    You poo-poo the 20 years of experience the other semiconductor vendors have in cellular technology, round-the-clock operation without worrying about where the next mains outlet is, and deft, highly-integrated applications processors dedicated to the purpose. Yeah, anybody can catch up on that and suddenly be a winner. You'd / they'd best take a very humble and measured approach to the phone and tablet market. You don't win it just by having a few similar parts available and talk an upbeat game. Texas Instruments had all the right parts, low power, tuned manufacturing, and a sound, established position serving the market, and they bailed on it - and it wasn't because of the looming presence of Intel. I keep looking for "what does Intel bring to the party?"

    I don't pretend to be able to tie all this to effectively playing the stock market, but I do understand technology, the semis and electronics industry, and what makes people/businesses buy these products. That's the "micro(processor) focus".
    Nov 24, 2013. 12:49 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • They Are Having A Sale On Intel Shares Today - Don't Miss It [View article]
    Sounds like a lot of belief in "if we build it, they will come", supplemented with "because it's Intel they will succeed", even though there is no evidence of Intel success to any measure so far in a sizable cell/smart phone market. How long have we heard "just wait til next time..."? When Ultrabook... When Windows 8... When school... When Christmas... When Atom... When IFX modems... When smart phones... When 22nm... When 14...
    Nov 22, 2013. 08:28 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • ARM Makes Life Even Tougher For Imagination [View article]
    Note that Freescale is the primary provider of Power architecture chips into the networking space and FSL never has had any MIPS-based chips. I would say Intel's incumbency is in PCs and servers and some high-end embedded versions of those, and now making some progress in networking, but x86 is not popular in true real-time embedded applications.

    As for IMG, they're putting some new "imagination" in the marketing and ecosystem that MIPS in its prior organization didn't/couldn't, but unless/until some packaging of the VR graphics cores with some MIPS cores takes place (in circuitry and licensing/pricing), the competition MIPS faces hasn't really changed much. The Warrior core does some fine-tuning for some markets, but can't yet show any GPU or IMG synergy. Me, I'd be surprised to find MIPS in smart phones. That would be a long road ahead. I'm also waiting to see Intel x86 shipping in any meaningful quantities in smart phones, even after they've thrown their tons more $ at it. This is not a place to compare Intel. I might say "if this is all Intel has been able to do in smart phones... poor Imagination."
    Oct 16, 2013. 08:42 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Reports: Intel TV project in trouble, talks held with Amazon and Samsung [View news story]
    We still have 500 channels but nothing good on TV - but much higher rates. (If you're a sports nut, you may be happy; if you're a shop-aholic or gossip-queen, you might be happy but you're probably living alone. Even "history" and "science" channels are full of Bigfoot and Alien threats).

    In 1970 any idiot with a ladder could mount an antenna and get a TV to pull in 3 channels to watch for free. Now you have to pay $500-1000 for a decent TV and another $500-1000 a year for "service" that adds incompatible boxes, do-all/do-nothing remote controls, and lots of wires into the stream. These invariably require a weekly reboot, update, or replacement and an electrical engineer at the ready to figure out what isn't turned on or connected at this moment. I remember when having cable meant that there were no commercials in the programs. When we were supposed to be heading toward wire-less we've instead gone to wire-mess. And, oh, the power cords!

    Meantime perfectly good DTV tuners are wasted in the TV chassis. Eradicate the "Set-Top Box". The name tells you there's something wrong. Why am I still punching in Channel 1241? Why don't I just type "NBC" or "Breaking Bad" (not after 10 menus or some tedious touch-screen keypad). And why do I have to see all the descriptive porn titles? I've never seen a recent TV system that was user-friendly. It's no wonder everyone hates the cable/satellite/phone company.

    So unless Intel or anyone else fixes the fundamental problems with home entertainment and does it the way the viewer wants, people will continue to find alternative ways of getting their entertainment (hint: Internet & tablets). You'd think Hollywood had learned a lesson when Napster spanked the music industry way back when and Apple finally instilled some sanity into the bedlam.

    I'm not sure what natural abilities Intel has to solve these problems. Last I saw they still wanted to use the one screen to show a TV program plus Internet surfing and PC operation. So much for your 60"!
    Sep 26, 2013. 07:16 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Intel's Profits Could Skyrocket [View article]
    This article as well as MANY others regarding INTC lately rely on the assumption that as long as Intel has some chips, or even all of the chips and some reference designs, that make a decent smart phone (or any other end product) that they will magically grab X% of market share. There are a number of companies that have such chips and/or long history in the target industry, but have failed to succeed, for numerous reasons.

    Intel has lots of smart people, but their native talent is in a very different industry and business model than smart phones. Intel's biggest plus is probably its very deep pockets and its apparent big push to smart phones right now. But Intel put great effort into the cell phone 10+ years ago with StrongARM/Xscale and eventually bailed. Neither Apple nor Samsung show any interest in Intel-based phones. There are no guarantees that this will work out for Intel, but I always like good competition.
    Sep 3, 2013. 02:52 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Did Intel Miss The Mobile Boat? [View article]
    Some early Netbooks were ARM based. But now they are nowhere. I'm not saying there aren't small slivers of PC-like devices based on ARM, but they're very specific, don't run off-the-shelf MS Office, usually Linux-based, or like this are there to run streaming media... Not a "runs everything" standard PC. *I* might buy one but I'm a techy - Mr. Tech Support for numerous "normal people" I know who don't understand why they get odd banners from McAfee appearing on their laptop or what all those little images are at the edge of their screen. Raspberry Pi isn't for your average guy / gal. These are not 100MU markets.
    Aug 5, 2013. 02:17 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Did Intel Miss The Mobile Boat? [View article]
    A fairly good article.
    A couple of points that are often missed, understated:
    - ARM-based chips are typically very cheap (the $20-$30... range mentioned). I don't believe Intel has it in itself to live in a world where thin margins are made on parts that sell about 1/10th of what they're used to.
    - The radically different software required for an X86 processor compared to the ARM architecture coupled with the vast success of the incumbent ARM in cell phones and tablets as well will continue to dog any transition to more power-thrifty X86's. There's just too much s/w out there that's long-dependent on the ARM architecture.
    - ARM has a similar problem breaking into the micro server space, but there are far fewer OEMs in servers to work with and that s/w is often very customized & not shared a lot. Therefore if ARM can convince one or two OEMs to cut across some DB & search engine s/w, they can make some progress in server space. But this is not a slam dunk either.
    - Would those who think Intel has a good shot at cell/smartphones think that ARM has a good shot at the PC market? Why not? Oh, the PC s/w keeps the ARM arch out. So apply the same logic to phones and you see why it's unlikely that Intel will make it in phones. One big difference is Intel has the huge $$ to continue to throw at the problem and may eventually get there. But over many years now I've seen Intel still just have about 4 token phone wins to throw out on the table. You can look at bloaty Windows and see that it never made it out of the PC space either despite numerous attempts over the years in traditional embedded systems.
    - Generic performance benchmarks (let alone flawed, inappropriate, or tricked up ones) and power claims (which are extremely difficult to model in mobile phones) - even if they all showed a "win" for the X86 column still may not overcome the stickiness of the mountain of s/w. I return to the ARM-in-a-PC question.
    - X86 *might* have a chance in the tablet space, if consumers can be convinced to look for "the familiar Windows" mannerisms in their tablets, relating them to laptops. But so far that doesn't seem to be happening - a tablet is a consume where a laptop is a create platform - and Windows 8 has had a very rough start trying to have a go at it from the opposite direction (let's make your PC look like your phone). But at least I'd say tabs are a more likely, if smaller, space where Intel has a chance of gaining some ground. But are they trying there or only Ultrabook'ing down into the space?

    It's all a difficult potential transition. Intel's best shot at mobile was with the old Xscale ARM architecture that they abandoned 5 or so years ago (Marvell has it now). On the other hand, PCs (not just laptops), servers, and other X86-based end-products should benefit from all the power-conservation and efficiency gains that Intel is making by focusing so hard on the mobile space.
    Aug 4, 2013. 09:04 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
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