The story of arguably the most significant tectonic shift to occur within the semiconductor industry in 2009 can be read between the lines of two sizable and seemingly unrelated checks written by Intel Corp.
In June, the world's largest chip maker announced it would buy embedded software specialist Wind River Systems Inc. for $884 million. Five months later, Intel settled long-running legal disputes with rival microprocessor vendor Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) for the tidy sum of $1.25 billion.
|Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini told an audience of 4,000 at the Intel Developer Forum in September that he could see a time when Intel would ship
more SoCs than standard microprocessors.|
No connection, you say? With the Wind River buy, Intel telegraphed--more clearly than ever before--its ambition to extend its tentacles beyond the PC processor space into a host of new and growing markets. With the AMD settlement, Intel buried the hatchet with a comparatively diminutive but pesky foe, putting the past behind it so it could focus fully on the bigger fish it intends to fry.
Intel already won the war with AMD--years ago. While pitched battles have been staged in recent times over a point or two of market share, the bottom line is that Intel owns more than 80 percent of the microprocessor market. AMD holds about 10 percent, sometimes slightly more.
With the Wind River buy, Intel gained valuable software expertise as well as Linux and RTOS code to help it expand into systems-on-chip targeting mobile, consumer and embedded applications. Acknowledging the shift in focus, Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini told an audience at the Intel Developer Forum later in the year that he could foresee a time when Intel shipped more SoCs than micropro- cessors.