New Intel CEO Institutes Big Changes
New Intel boss Brian Krzanich wasted no time making changes at the company, including the creation of a "new devices" business unit and announcing a push to develop marketable mobile chipsets faster, a spokesman for the chip giant said Tuesday.
Krzanich sent an internal memo to Intel employees on Monday outlining "a sweeping company reorganization," according to Reuters. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy confirmed the basic details of the Reuters report to PCMag, including the existence of the memo.
The "new devices" unit—the name is a working title, according to Mulloy—will be headed by former Apple and Palm executive Mike Bell. Bell's team will be charged with "future-casting" markets for Intel products, Mulloy said. Right now, that means making Intel more competitive with Qualcomm and others in smartphones and tablets, but the unit will be focused on "more than just mobile," he added.
Krzanich, who last week officially succeeded Paul Otellini as the sixth CEO in Intel's history, will be directly responsible for the company's client and datacenter businesses, currently under Intel Architecture Group (IAG) general manager Dadi Perlmutter. IAG division heads will now report directly to Krzanich and Perlmutter will work with the new Intel CEO to "map out how that re-organization happens," Mulloy said.
It wasn't clear what the veteran Intel executive would do following the transition, but Reuters quoted an unnamed source as saying that Perlmutter and Krzanich would "define his next significant contribution at Intel."
Intel Introduces New 22nm Atom Lineup
SANTA CLARA, Calif. —Intel on Monday raised the curtain on a next-generation, 22-nanometer Atom core microarchitecture code named Silvermont, promising major improvements in power and power efficiency compared with current-generation Atom System-on-a-Chip (SoC) cores.
"Silvermont is a leap forward and an entirely new technology foundation for the future that will address a broad range of products and market segments. Early sampling of our 22nm SoCs, including 'Bay Trail' and 'Avoton,' is already garnering positive feedback from our customers," said Intel executive vice president and chief product officer Dadi Perlmutter.
The first Atom products featuring Silvermont will be quad-core SoCs aimed at tablets and convertibles, Intel said at a press event at its campus here. Code named Bay Trail, these chipsets will arrive in products in time for the holiday season this year, according to the company.
The other Silvermont-based SoCs coming down the pike are Merrifield, a dual-core aimed at smartphones and also arriving before the end of 2013, the microserver-targeted Avoton, Rangley, built for networking and security infrastructure like routers and switches, and an unnamed SoC optimized for in-vehicle systems.
Silvermont delivers big boosts to the Atom line's performance and performance efficiency, Intel stressed. The new microarchitecture is three times as powerful as the cores in current Atom SoCs, but it can also reduce power consumption five times when running at the same performance level as its current chips.
Intel also said it will be introducing new Atom designs on a yearly basis going forward, mimicking the "tick-tock" cadence with which the company alternates between process improvements and microarchitecture changes with its Core and Xeon products. When the chip giant moves to the 14nm process node in 2014, an Atom microarchitecture code named Airmont will be introduced, Perlmutter said.
Perlmutter made it clear that Intel has ARM directly in its sights these days. Silvermont products based on Intel's x86 architecture will outperform the next wave of ARM-based SoCs in power efficiency and offer support for 64-bit instruction sets, while also baking in technologies like Intel's new "intelligent burst" throttling of central processor and graphics cores, he said.
Intel’s Rough Quarter Reflects Moribund State of PC Industry
Intel on Tuesday divulged declining numbers across the board in a first-quarter earnings report which pointed to continued struggles for the PC industry.
The chip giant, the world's leading supplier of processors and chipsets for Windows-based laptops and desktops, reported $12.6 billion in sales for its first quarter, down 7 percent sequentially and down 2 percent year-over-year. Net income of $2 billion represented a decline of 17 percent from Intel's profits in last year's final quarter and a 26 percent drop from the first quarter of 2012.
Intel's declining financials reflected ongoing problems for PC makers and suppliers faced in recent years with stiffer competition from makers of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Microsoft's release of Windows 8 last October has apparently done little to reinvigorate a moribund PC market; nor has Intel's own Ultrabook initiative to push ultra-thin, fast-booting laptops with long battery life to better compete with mobile devices.
Still, Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini put a brave face on the numbers.
"Amidst market softness, Intel performed well in the first quarter and I'm excited about what lies ahead for the company. We shipped our next generation PC microprocessors, introduced a new family of products for micro-servers, and will ship our new tablet and smartphone microprocessors early this quarter," Otellini, who will step down as the company's chief executive next month, said in a statement.
Intel to Double Transfer Rate With Next-Gen Thunderbolt
Intel this week offered a peek at its next-generation Thunderbolt controller, code named Falcon Ridge, which is capable of 20Gbps transfer rates—double that of the current-generation Thunderbolt hardware interface protocol.
The chip giant on Monday also introduced its Intel DSL4510/4410 Thunderbolt controllers, adding DisplayPort (DP) 1.2 support to the protocol while also improving power management capabilities and lowering PC platform material costs, the company said.
Intel demonstrated early prototype Falcon Ridge silicon on Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, saying its next-gen Thunderbolt chips will begin initial production before the end of 2013 with a volume ramp planned for next year.
Falcon Ridge's increased transfer speed enables "4K video file transfer and display simultaneously," Intel said in a statement.
Thunderbolt was jointly developed by Intel and Apple as a project called Light Peak, and first appeared in Apple's 2011 lineup of MacBook Pro laptops. The protocol combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) I/O on the same bi-directional serial signal, with DC power transfer also included in a Thunderbolt cable that can support up to seven computer peripherals via daisy chaining.
Last year, Intel began positioning Thunderbolt within its ultrabook initiative, saying at Computex in June that the "technology will first and foremost be considered an 'ultrabook amplifier' that extends the capabilities of the super-light systems by giving them considerably greater storage and display potential."
Could Next Wave of iPhones and iPads Have Intel Inside?
Apple has used ARM-based A-Series processors for several generations of the iPhone and iPad, but a rumor out of Taiwan this week has the company turning to Intel for at least a portion of its future mobile device chip production.
Does this mean x86-based chips will finally find a place inside Apple's best-selling iDevices? The short answer is an emphatic "no," at least in the near future.
Rather than a move to the Intel architecture akin to Apple's sea-changing switch from IBM PowerPC chips to x86 for its MacIntosh products in 2005-06, this rumored move would utilize Intel's foundry services to produce some 10 percent of Apple's future A7 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) parts, according to DigiTimes.
Those SoCs would presumably still be based on the ARM architecture, especially given Apple's major investments in the architecture, both materially and in terms of an evolved app ecosystem built around ARM. Further on down the road, say a few years out, is anybody's guess. Intel has arguably been making major strides in catching up to ARM in terms of producing competitive Atom-branded x86 processors for smartphones and tablets, which provide the kind of battery life bang mobile device makers value.
Intel Gearing Up to Launch Web TV Service This Year
An Intel executive has confirmed that the company is indeed gearing up to launch an online television service this year, according to reports.
The chipmaker will sell a set-top box that can stream live TV and movies, as well as provide content on-demand, Erik Huggers, general manager of Intel Media said at the AllThingsDigital "Dive into Media" conference in Dana Point, Calif. on Tuesday. The company is currently working to negotiate deals with content partners, according to Reuters.
"We have been working for (the past) year to set up Intel media, a new group focused on developing an Internet platform," Huggers said.
Beyond offering a set-top box for televisions, Intel may also extend its service to tablets and mobile devices, according to AllThingsD. Customers shouldn't expect to be able to pay for programming a la carte. The company will be offering bundled programming similar to what's offered by cable providers.
One potentially controversial feature of the device is a built-in camera that watches a user's movements and TV viewing habits to deliver personalized ads and content.
"My kids may watch programming geared towards them, and I'll watch programming geared towards me," Huggers said, according to AllThingsD. "If there's a way to distinguish who is watching what, advertisers can then target ads at the proper parties."
Intel to Shutter Motherboard Business, Reallocate Resources
Intel today announced that it will shutter its long-standing retail desktop motherboard business after the imminent rollout of 4th generation Intel Core processors (aka Haswell).
Those resources will be reallocated to other forward-looking product teams like the one that recently developed Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) and other groups working on ultrabooks and all-in-one desktops.
Intel's Desktop Motherboard group is responsible for bringing retail-level motherboards and motherboard kits to the market, for use by do-it-yourselfers as well as boutique PC system builders. While desktop motherboards for the end user have been an Intel staple for the past 20 years, other motherboard manufacturers like MSI, Asus, Sapphire, ASRock, and Gigabyte offer many more choices in interfaces, form factors, and added features.
Intel (the corporation) will still produce the motherboard chipsets that are found on these motherboards, but the end consumer will no longer be able to buy an Intel-branded motherboard after the Haswell board life cycle ends in 18 months to two years. Warranty and driver support for upcoming motherboards will continue for their respective warranty periods. That said, the Intel desktop motherboards supporting Haswell evidently will be the last batch of retail-level desktop motherboards from the company.
Intel Pushes Home and Mobile Platforms Further
LAS VEGAS—At Intel's press conference for CES 2013, the theme of the presentation seemed to be "further." Smartphones were pushed further into the emerging markets. Intel Atom is being pushed toward platforms that do more. Fourth-generation Intel Core (Haswell) is helping push ultrabook prices further down the price scales, while you can go further on a charge. And Intel is hinting at further features for its all-in-one and ultrabook wish lists and requirements.
First off, the Intel Atom Z2420M (Lexington) processor is bringing the smartphone to developing markets like Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Like e-ink feature phones and hand-crank phone chargers, we're unlikely to see this technology in the states, but it shows Intel isn't leaving the rest of the world to Qualcomm and other mobile chip makers.
While 32nm dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 (Clover Trail) is coming into its own with Windows 8 tablets from the top 10 PC makers, Intel is continuing to introduce new platforms with the next generation Atom (Bay Trail). Bay Trail will shrink the technology to 22nm and bring true quad-core to the Atom platform. Intel showed off several reference designs from manufacturers like Compal and Wishtron, heralding tablets that are capable of running both Android and Windows. Look for these tablets closer to the holidays in 2013.
Report: Apple, Intel Working on Smartwatch for 2013
The year 2012 was another one in which Apple defied market skeptics and delivered an unlikely hit, the iPad mini , in the face of stiff competition.
But it wouldn't be a normal Apple year without at least one last rumor to send us scratching our heads into the new year, anxiously wondering what the company has up its sleeve next. The latest rumor isn't necessarily earthshaking, but it is nevertheless surprising: Sources based in China claim that Apple is working on releasing a smartwatch.
According to a report on China's TGbus.com, the Bluetooth-enabled smartwatch will feature a 1.5-inch touchscreen display and work directly with the iPhone, allowing users to make phone calls and perform other operations from their wrists. First spotted by tech site TheNextWeb, the watch is supposedly a joint project between Apple and Intel.
This new talk of a smart watch might seem outlandish on its face, that is, until you begin to examine some of Apple's recent moves.
Earlier this year, Apple decided to update the iPod nano with a totally new design, one that instantly rendered obsolete iPod nano accessories that essentially turn the device into a kind of smartwatch. Kickstarter projects like the TikTok and LunaTik iPod nano watch straps had raised just shy of $1 million, proving that a healthy market exists for iPod nano owners who want to turn the music device into a kind of smartwatch.
So months later, when Apple inexplicably changed the design of the iPod nano to a form factor that many agree is something of a step backward, market speculation immediately focused on the notion that Apple might be attempting to displace would-be smartwatch competitors, and thus clear the table for its own, forthcoming smartwatch.
Intel Reports Flat Q3, Offers Cagey Outlook for Next Six Months
Intel on Tuesday reported third-quarter sales of $13.5 billion and net income of $3 billion, flat against the chip giant's second-quarter performance but beating financial analysts' projections and its own revised outlook.
Looking ahead to the final quarter of 2012 and the start of 2013, Intel offered a pessimistic forecast that reflects uncertainty in the global economy and the PC industry in particular—and sent Intel stock tumbling by around 2 percent after its earnings were made public before market close.
"Our third-quarter results reflected a continuing tough economic environment," Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement.
The chip maker is banking on thin-and-light ultrabooks, a product category Intel has been pushing hard in recent months, as well as redoubled efforts to penetrate the smartphone and tablet markets, to help light the way forward to growth more in line with the sort that the company enjoyed in the PC boom years.
"The world of computing is in the midst of a period of breakthrough innovation and creativity. As we look to the fourth quarter, we're pleased with the continued progress in ultrabooks and phones and excited about the range of Intel-based tablets coming to market," Otellini said.
Intel reported positive news for its server and storage business—Data Center Group revenue of $2.7 billion was up 6 percent from the third quarter of 2011, though down sequentially—but the company had a more distressing picture to offer for its PC division, responsible for the lion's share of its overall business. The PC Client Group had third-quarter revenue of $8.6 billion, flat against the second quarter but down 8 percent year-over-year.