McGregor noted that companies using ARM or MIPS architectures to build embedded and consumer products currently have many choices of chip vendors, something that would change if they moved to x86, where Intel is the only choice. Moving to an x86 architecture would also require huge changes in design and software, McGregor said.
"Intel, by some accounts, is guilty of its own success," McGregor said. "No matter what, they are skewed as the 800-pound gorilla when they enter a new market." This adds a layer of concern for anyone considering doing business with Intel, McGregor said.
Still, McGregor believes Intel is bound to propagate x86 deeper into other markets beyond the PC. He noted that x86 now dominates in the field of medical imaging systems, whereas 12 years ago the Power PC architecture reigned supreme in the niche. Intel's embedded group already has more than $2 billion in annual revenue, McGregor said.
"Intel is targeting hundreds of applications with Atom," McGregor said. "Some they'll win, some they won't. The area will they will probably have the biggest initial impact is embedded applications."
McGregor added that he had received no official word that the Intel-TSMC partnership is on hold. But, he said to his knowledge TSMC has not manufactured any Atom products for Intel. "As far as I know, Intel has not secured the volume of design wins that would necessitate that," McGregor said.