Intel’s quarterly report was a mix of positives and negatives, but the most interesting nugget of information to come out was that Intel was finally taking the fight to ARM with heavy investment in mobile with a $13 billion investment in mobile research and development.
That figure is up a third on 2012, and demonstrates that Intel has finally understood that outside of servers, the future is mobile and that future is looking for efficiency and not just pure speed. There may be a handful of Intel-inside mobile phones and tablets on the market, but their uptake has been negligible as manufacturers compete in the ARMs race against each other, with chips coming from NVIDIA, Samsung, Qualcomm, amongst others – with each smartphone looking to get more juice and more power from their devices. NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3 and 4 chips actually come with a fifth very low power core to take on basic tasks like email and browsing the web – leaving only the heavy lifting to the four more powerful and power hungry cores and improving battery life.
More and more people work and play through their smartphones and tablets, and they are currently ARM dominated arenas. Intel currently dominates the laptop and desktop market with its x86 processors, but as the line between laptops and tablets and even phablets gets ever smaller, and the ARM chips ever more powerful – ARM will be starting to take a bite out of Intel’s bottom line. Moreover, even with servers – a place where computing power and speed have historically been the deciding factors – more and more companies are again looking for power efficiency and ARM servers are coming online at an ever increasing rate.