Competing in cable/STB/CE markets is not easy even (or should I say especially?) for intel. The ASP's and margins are so pitifully low that even an intel (used to 100$+ ASP's) will not find it easy to make money out of the business. For starters what advantage can intel provide over the competition (STM and Mediatek) - unlike the PC market there is no legacy/replacement market that will support meaningless performance chase? There are enough chips out there doing MPEG/H264 decoding and encoding. Unless intel offers something that directly creates a new market for a large group of end-users (like Apple/Google) intel could find it tough to profit from an SoC game in CE space. Companies like TI have played this game till recently and shifted priorities to analog-dominated products. Perhaps intel has some tricks up its sleeve?!
Besides the Atom+FPGA, which I think is really useful for embedded programming, I found the fact that the CE4200 could do transcoding very cool. There was a demo of this in the smart TV pavilion. I think the opportunity for this in the cable market could be amazing. A head end that can redistribute to the other devices in the house, reformatting for handhelds or tablets.
This is the future, SoC, and it is great that US firms are picking that. The area of standalone microprocessor is passing. WIth McAfee, Intel can even compete with Ant-virus companies at the level of hardware. This is a huge opportunity and I am happy it is a US firm
If we are playing 'I remember', how about when Intel gave a keynote address at ESC where they talked about how wonderful their Xeon processors were for embedded system designs? I think more than a few of us left that session convinced that Intel would never figure out the whole embedded thing.
Fast forward to this and it is apparent that Intel is finally putting it together. Atom is still a bit power-hungry for many applications, but they are certainly going in the right direction. The Wind River acquisition is probably helping as well.
I remember awhile back when Intel's CEO speculated that it wouldn't be long before Intel sells more SoC's than stand-alone microprocessors. With the IP that Intel is now integrating in Atom-based SoC's, that prediction seems very likely.
When you have 32 nm process technology, what else do you put on the die besides a processor core or two? Everything in the system, of course!