Each year Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) conducts a product learning session called the Intel Developer's Forum (IDF). There are two and sometimes three IDFs each year. There usually is a two-day one in April in Taiwan and then the three-day forum in San Francisco in September. The San Francisco forum is considered the "big Intel event of the year." This is the place and event where developers of end products using Intel's components get a chance to rub elbows with Intel management and the Intel technical leadership. It is quite an event and not to be missed by those who design with Intel products or are looking for the next "big thing." The IDF is sort of like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Macworld on steroids.
The dates for the IDF this year are September 9-11, 12 days away.
Before the IDF, Intel typically introduces new products and initiatives. Some are announced during the meeting, but many are announced prior to the beginning of the meeting to give developers a heads-up to plan for which presentations they will want to attend.
I think we can expect a big part of the meeting will be concerned with the IoT (Internet of Things).
It's virtually impossible to guess what extremely creative people will dream up for functions done on the IoT, and much of it will be industrial in nature and thus somewhat hidden from us mere earthlings.
The Intel parts to support the IoT will involve processing, of course, and communications, of course (perfect place for that digital RF that was discussed two years ago). We already are getting information on a tiny RF modem for the IoT. There will be not-so-smart parts and highly intelligent parts. All parts will be extremely energy efficient (think near threshold voltage transistors) the parts will have to interface with a wide variety of sensors (think MEMS devices). InvenSense (NYSE:INVN) would be a great acquisition if it weren't for the fact INVN is so outrageously overpriced, but at a $2 billion market cap it is still only lunch money for Intel. These parts will have RAM and program ROM on chip just like microcontrollers, which these parts will look like. IoT SOCs probably won't have much need for graphics or video controllers in most cases. These parts will have great need for "soft" hardware programmability, probably through embedded FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) of varying sizes. Thus users will be able to develop embedded functions on the SoCs that are peculiar to their industry and proprietary to their company.
The market potential for the IoT is huge and largely unknown at this time. Some expect the IoT to add 10-20 billion connected devices and eventually be larger than all connected devices today combined. At even a few dollars in Intel product per IoE device, we could see tens of billions of dollars of new market that would fuel Intel growth for years to come.
We'll hear new things about mobile. Application processors that are truly competitive. Intel finally has LTE chips that are not vaporware but actual shipping products.
In order to be a big player in the IoT, Intel will need to conquer the current mobile business to a more or lesser degree. The connection between current mobile and the IoT will keep Intel spending (and losing) money on mobile, and, by the way, we have no idea how much of the losing money is being spent on IoT products and not smartphone and tablet products.
I bought a FitBit yesterday - how silly is that. Maybe it will subtract birthdays.
Data centers are continually being re-built and enlarged as the total amount of information continues to grow geometrically. The last time I checked Intel had a near monopoly in the data center business.
We will get fleshed out information on 14nm based PC CPUs like Broadwell. I think there will be a few surprises. I'm sure someone will trot out a laboratory 10nm CPU just to kick sand in the faces of those struggling with anything below 28nm.
I can't even get my head around square inch chips with 70 something CPU cores on them. Intel gets its corporate head around these things just fine - at several thousands of dollars per chip.
Intel is in the storage business and judging from the past comments of two senior VPs, they like that business. Storage = non-volatile memory. Something new there could be interesting.
I haven't seen a new product release from Intel for months. In the last couple of days, I've seen one leaked and one from Intel.
I'll bet from here we see a tsunami of product and technology announcements from Intel leading up to the IDF and the first couple of days of the gathering. All we need is one big one to tack on a few bucks to the share price.
In the absence of a complete economic meltdown (2007-2008), or what many claimed was the terminal decline of the PC, Intel has always added a buck or two during the US IDF.
As usual, I will be event-playing the 2014 IDF with short term near-the-money call options.
Good luck everyone.
Disclosure: The author is long INTC.
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