Monday, February 22, 2010

The chip wars are about to become even more bloody...

In this next phase, the chip manufacturers fight a "Battle Royal" to supply the silicon for one of the fastest-growing segments of computing: smartphones, tiny laptops and tablet-style devices.

The NY Times analyzes the match. “The fight pits several big chip companies — each trying to put its own stamp on the same basic design for mobile chips — against Intel, the dominant maker of PC chips, which is using an entirely different design to enter a market segment in which it has a minuscule presence.”

Intel remains the last mainstream chip maker to both design and build its own products, which go into the vast majority of the PCs and servers sold each year. Most other chips are built by a group of contract manufacturers, based primarily in Asia, to meet the specifications of other companies that design and market them.

Intel’s Atom line of chips, used in most netbooks and now coming to smartphones, can cost two to three times as much as competitive chips. In addition, the Atom chips consume too much power for many smaller gadgets.

Intel executives argue that consumers will demand more robust mobile computing experiences, requiring chips with more power and PC-friendly software, both traditional Intel strengths.

“As these things look more like computers, they will value some of the capabilities we have and want increasing levels of performance,” said Robert B. Crooke, the Intel vice president in charge of the Atom chip.

I tend to be with Intel here, but I fear they may be making a dangerous mistake. The original Atom chips could support Intel’s Virtualization Technology. Those features seem to be missing from the newest Atom chips, making it unlikely that you can use virtual machine technology on a smartphone to make that phone a full participant in Cloud Computing.

Interestingly, articles from the NY Times are not available online unless you are a subscriber. But the same information is sometimes posted on the NY Times blogs, which are at present outside the “paywall.”

Find Ashlee Vance's article about the forthcoming battle here. You might also take a look at a blog post by Nick Bilton with a wish list of features for future cell phones A second advantage of reading the blogs is that you can also read the comments; the wish list attracted quite a few.

No comments:

Post a Comment