SAN JOSE, Calif. - ARM Holdings plc and Intel Corp. are on a collision course in the systems space.
The winner? Intel, according to one analyst. Another analyst disagreed.
''So far, Intel is missing the wave in the ultramobile market and is not likely to gain traction in 2011,'' said Auguste Gus Richard, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, in a recent report. ''The issue for Intel is that software developers are increasingly focusing on ARM platforms. As this momentum grows and the number of applications grows it makes it more difficult for Intel to turn the market in its direction.''
There are other issues. ''We do not expect Intel's 32-nm Medfield platform for smartphones, expected in 1H:11, to gain significant share in 2011 and perhaps 2012. We understand Intel is dropping legacy x86 features in order to lower power consumption in future products, but it is not clear if this is Medfield or the next generation,'' he said. ''We think Intel may have to abandon its legacy x86 architecture or significantly improve its SoC design capability to be competitive. We think the train is leaving the station in the ultramobile era and so far Intel is not on board.''
Intel, however, is leading in some respects. ''We expect that the lead customers for ARM's new A15 core to tape-out around the end of Q1:11. We expect the ARM camp to be in production at 32-nm in 2012 as Intel is moving to 22-nm. Intel leads in manufacturing and ARM leads in mobile architecture,'' he said.
''While we believe over time Intel's process advantage could drive a performance advantage, we do not think this is likely to occur in 2011. Moorestown is facing tough market acceptance due to high power consumption. Moorestown is a two chip solution with the Atom processor (45-nm) on one chip and the I/O (65-nm) on the other,'' he said.
''We understand that the I/O consumes a lot of power and the combination is not likely to be successful in the mobile phone market. The Medfield mobile processor will integrate the I/O with the processor and will be implemented in 32-nm. This will likely significantly improve power consumption and performance. Medfield is
not expected until mid-2011, and we would not expect Medfield based products to enter the market until 2012,'' he said.
The other problem for Intel? The PC market is slowing. ''We expect PC unit growth to decline from 12 percent to 5 percent over the next several years as tablets gain momentum. However, we also expect PC prices to stabilize after 20 years of an 8 percent annual decline. The net is we expect PC and Intel's revenue to grow mid single digits unless the company can move beyond the PC market,'' he said.