LONDON – Toshiba Corp. has cancelled plans to sell computers that run the Windows RT operating system from Microsoft Corp. and that are based on an ARM-based processor, due to delays in getting adequate supplies of components, according to reports.
Toshiba was planning to use OMAP processors form Texas Instruments Inc. (Dallas, Texas) in the design and in June TI had produced a video showing off Windows RT running on a Toshiba tablet.
Because of poor chip supply Toshiba will now focus on making machines running the alternative Microsoft operating system called Windows 8, which runs only on x86 processors, which come from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Toshiba did not say which components are in so short supply as to force the cancelling of its Windows RT product, but many leading chip companies are either fabless, or have gone fab-lite, meaning that they are all dependent on foundries for their leading-edge 28-nm silicon. In particular, most are dependent on the leading foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan). There has been much discussion of low yields and shortages of supply of 28-nm silicon during this year.
"Toshiba has decided not to introduce Windows RT models due to delayed components that would make a timely launch impossible," Bloomberg quoted Eric Paulsen, a U.S.-based spokesman, as saying in an emailed statement. "For the time being, Toshiba will focus on bringing Windows 8 products to market. We will continue to look into the possibility of Windows RT products in the future while monitoring market conditions," Bloomberg also quoted Paulsen as saying.
Microsoft reportedly had restricted the number of companies and chip makers who would work on the initial release of Windows RT computers and tablets. Nvidia Corp. has been working with Asustek Computer Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. while Qualcomm Inc. is chartered with supplying Dell Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Executives with both Nvidia and Qualcomm have spoken out about their inability to get enough 28-nm chips from TSMC and that the undersupply was expected to last through until the fourth quarter of 2012. Texas Instruments gave a weak outlook for 3Q12 in discussing the most recent financial results.
The main reason why Toshiba cancels the Windows RT is because of poor chip supply from TSMC. In my opinion it is not capacity, but device performance issue because some time ago Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm chairman and CEO made a similar statement that it has a strong demand for its Snadragon S4 processor chips manufactured by TSMC, but TSMC couldn’t deliver. Toshiba now plan to make machines that run MS Windows 8 OS. In order to run the full blown Window 8 PRO, however, very high speed or ultra-high performance is required as well as ultra-low power. TSMC’s planar bulk 28nm transistor technology can’t deliver such high performance because when the performance is increased, power or leakage current also increases. On the other hand, significantly lower power and higher performance compared with TSMC’s bulk 28nm are achieved by Intel 22nm FinFETs based Ivy Bridge chips, thus ideal to run Windows 8 PRO. Recently, Microsoft announced to adopt Ivy Bridge chips to run Windows 8 PRO and may adopt Window RT that is a strip-down version of the Windows 8 PRO. TSMC has no capacity issue for manufacturing the low power and low performance for ARM, but not for Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. That is why Mr. Jacobs is so disappointed that he is even contemplating having his own fab. S Kim
The Kindle was intended to prime the pump and create a market for ebooks Amazon could sell. It was a case of "Give away the razor and sell the blades."
I can see MS being willing to take a loss on Surface tablets to prime that pump. If the technology is as cool as MS wishes us to believe it is, having units out there where people can see and play with them may well generate demand and get other manufacturers to toss their hats in the ring.
Of course, some folks here may remember the UMPC that MS and Intel were trying to push on everyone some years back. The folks who actually made them were people like Samsung, Via, and Asus, who weren't known here for complete systems, and the products never really achieved the sort of success hoped for because MS and Intel couldn't provide a compelling use case that would get people to buy them. (And ironically, tablets are now doing the sorts of things MS and Intel pushed the UMPC for.)
If Surface gets a killer use case or two, MS has a chance. If not...
Is Intel involved? Even if they are, they are not responsible for the divergence of the ARM vendors (all 850 licenses to 300 partners with 30 billion devices shipped as per ARM-Investors page). To buy a low-cost ARM quad core (Samsung $129 at hardkernel.com as an example) compares poorly to the Apple miniMac x86-64 at $599 with 64-bit, packaging and ready for work). Apple are not the cheapest, so Intel x86, particularly low power will take a while to displace. The promised ARM 64-bit is so far into the future that it compares to Xilinx with 20 months between ARM announcement to silicon, and another six to eight months before boards appear at reasonable prices. Lastly, there is always AMD if you don't like Intel, who are certainly value for money.
Maybe, but now is not the time to jump into a fab as NEC/Renesas and others seek to get rid of fabs when they certainly had customers. If food retailers took as big a hit as the semi vendors, we would all be baking our own bread long ago as they simply shut shop. Without a long history in manufacturing at leading nodes, what are the chances of jumping in now and beating TSMC to better yields? Tricky this close to leading edge.
I was wondering if Intel was involved or not..maybe we will never know. It does seem to be more likely a chip shortage rather than something else. I hope that at some point the big guys get back into the fab business as a way to both differentiate themselves and ensure supply.
This is a deeper issue than shortages. The essence of the matter is Intel has a lot of Leverage over PC suppliers like Toshiba, HP, Dell and others, and can easily play the Wild Card at anytime. The wildcard is as follows:
If you don't buy my Low End PC Processor (i5,i7), I will hike up your pricing on my Server Processor (Xeon family). So leaves the PC Suppliers with no choice but to cave on the PC Processors and stick to x86.