By Don Clark
Intel, widely known for microprocessors, has also been a longtime player in connecting computers together. But it’s not satisfied.
The Silicon Valley giant claims it has greatly boosted the ability of its general-purpose processors to move high volumes of data around–approaching the capabilities of chips that were expressly designed for that purpose.
Rose Schooler, a vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center group, says in 2004 the company had chips that could ship 250,000 data packets per second. On Wednesday, by comparison, the company is introducing a combination of chips that it says can move 255 million packets per second.
Most of that work is done by x86 circuitry, the technology used for most PCs, Intel says. In addition to new Xeon chips, Intel is adding companion accelerator chips that handle particularly specialized jobs, like inspecting packets for security problems and encrypting them to guard against data theft.
Schooler is not suggesting that Intel is going to replace all special-purpose networking chips, which are designed by companies such as Cisco Systems. But she adds: “Where we think you can extend the use of general-purpose computing is probably a bit further than where they would.”
To give some idea why Intel is interested, Schooler sees a $16 billion market that Intel could target for its technology–a niche where it only has a 5% share today.
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said Intel has gradually been improving the accelerator chips that go with its processors to the point that the combination could begin to have an impact on companies like Cisco.
“When Intel gets focused on something and there is a fire burning underneath them, they are a lot more motivated and a lot more successful,” he said. “Unless they grow in networking, they have no chance of growing in the data center.”
3. Here's the more subtle reason: While Intel is the largest semiconductor company in the world by sales, they are about number four in terms of wafers processed . Samsung (GM:SSNLF) is about twice the size of Intel in terms of wafers out. The new Micron would produce more wafers. Hynix (OTC:HXSCL) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM) also process more wafers than Intel. So what, you say. Just the fact of processing wafers in huge volumes leads to the disciplines that make process yields better. The semiconductor industry has always used memory as the process driver and verifier. Without the highest volumes, the companies processing larger volumes of wafers will eventually overcome the Intel manufacturing advantage. And, of course, there is the scale factor involved in the cost of raw wafers, chemicals, and the manufacturing equipment that is the lifeblood of advanced semiconductor processes. Intel doesn't want those advantages to go to Samsung by default.
Intel has the opportunity to develop and take a $35 to 50 billion SSD business. They are the only one with enough empty capacity to get the job started. Intel also has the opportunity to gain another $16-20 billion of scale by buying Micron at an earnings accretive price.
Combined with the base X86 business, Intel could go on a growth spurt to $100 billion and beyond. At that scale Intel would earn $25 billion, spread over about 6.5 billion shares or $3.85 per share. These stars are lining up and they won't stay in alignment for long. If Intel doesn't move on these opportunities within six months they will have a tough time from here on.
My play will, as always, be with options. If a deal isn't obvious by June, it will never happen. So, buy the stock or June calls and be gone in June if nothing happens.
This would certainly bring the growth that Intel shareholders and Intel analysts have been clamoring for.
The other part of my theory is a little more difficult to justify and, therefore I offer it as an "option".
I think Intel will ultimately, and maybe very soon, purchase Micron in its entirety. The counter to that is, "Why go through all that when Intel can just make all the SSDs it needs by itself?"
The answers are:
1. While Intel can configure those new plants to make SSD drives very efficiently and at very low cost and quite high margins, they still need DRAM and non-SSD NAND to go with the Application Processors they intend to swarm the tablet and smartphone markets with. There is at least as much revenue and profit in the memory that goes with an application processor (AP) as there is in the AP alone. And the memory is almost always mounted with the AP in a multi-chip package (MCP) or a package on package (PoP) module. The memory revenue might even be necessary to fully justify going after the mobile business at all. Intel having access to APs with memory would certainly give Qualcomm (QCOM) some heartburn and give Samsung a run for their money. Intel without memory means they must buy it from a probable competitor.
2. Micron would add the scale and top line growth that Intel desperately needs, and any purchase at under $40 per Micron share would be immediately accretive to Intel earnings. If done with Intel shares, the acquisition would be cash free. Remember, Interest rates will not always be near zero.
As I mentioned in an article published yesterday, there are about 550 million Hard Disk Drives (HDD) sold each year, half of which would really like to become SSDs at about an average density of 192GB. To summarize the arithmetic in that article, the HDD to SSD conversion effort is about five million NAND wafers short of doing the job. That is if you only consider the current and traditional manufacturers of NAND memory.
My other continuing theme in SA articles has been that Intel has a gargantuan amount of real and potential fab capacity that apparently will never be used. Stacy Smith used up a large part of his presentation trying to persuade us that Intel is running at 80% of capacity.
The world's largest and second largest semiconductor fabs are located in Oregon and Arizona and both are owned by Intel. Neither of these enormous fabs have produced even one wafer yet. So, obviously these fabs could not have been included in the capacity utilization calculation cited by Mr. Smith. If they were, the Intel utilization rate would be somewhere in the 40% area and investors hearing that would quickly take the stock price down by half.
I have a theory about what might be going on here.
Consider that Intel likes the SSD business AND Intel will very soon run out of the NAND chips it needs to continue to expand the SSD business AND Intel has what might be as much as three million wafers of excess capacity sitting in Oregon AND Arizona. Those "ands" in caps are in the Boolean sense. The only reasonable output of the above three input Boolean expression is the output that… drum roll, please… Intel will use those huge semiconductor fabs to build not just NAND memory, but finished SSDs to begin to satisfy the soon to be burgeoning demand for the advantages that SSDs bring to the computing continuum. This would include near instant boot time, extreme speed performance, low power, ruggedness, etc.
by Russ Fischer
Intel (INTC) makes Solid State Drives (SSD). Judging from comments made during the recent Intel investor meeting, Intel LIKES the SSD business. According to Diane Bryant, Senior Vice President of the Data Center Group, Intel is the number one supplier of SSDs to the data center business. She also mentioned interest and work in other non-volatile memory technologies. Much of Diane's presentation involved storage in the data center business. Storage is simply another word for memory, usually of the non-volatile persuasion.
In his presentation, CFO, Stacy Smith referred to NAND (slide 32) as, "dear to my heart". He mentioned that the "Non Volatile Memory Solutions Group" was profitable and expected to double in 2014.
So, NAND memory and SSDs are alive and well at Intel. Let me repeat that in a different way, Intel IS IN the memory business.
Currently, Intel receives the NAND memory chips for the SSDs from a joint venture (IMFT) with Micron Technology (MU). Intel owns 49% of the joint venture and either party can buy the other out entirely by exercising an option to do so. The Lehi UT plant is the IMFT fab. Let's assume the fab is capable of 700,000 wafers of NAND per year. Intel would be entitled to about half of those wafers at a price that, "approximates cost", according to every mention of the IMFT JV. Cost on those 350,000 wafers (at $1500 each) would be about $525 million; made into SSDs at 60% gross margin, the wafers would turn into about $1.3 billion worth of SSDs. The level of Intel SSD business is now about $1 billion and, according to Stacy Smith is expected to double in the next 12 months. At $1.3 billion Intel runs out of supply of those great 20nm and 16nm High K metal gate NAND chips.
By Shona Ghosh
Posted on 4 Dec 2013 at 10:40
A new, slimmer USB connector packing faster transfer speeds into thinner devices is on the way - but it won't be compatible with existing ports.
The new design, called Type-C, finally heralds reversible USB plugs, fixing the issue of jamming your charger cable in the wrong way round.
But the new standard won't be compatible with existing USB plugs, which will mean forking out for additional cables or adapters.
The USB 3 Promoter Group, which includes Intel, Microsoft and HP, has said the new connector is currently in development and should lead to "thinner and sleeker" devices.
"Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable an entirely new super-thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to two-in-ones, to laptops to desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices," said Alex Peleg, vice-president for Intel's Platform Engineering Group.
Type-C is an addition to the new USB 3.1 specification, which boasts transfer speeds of up to 10Gbits/sec.
The new connector will be around the same size as existing micro-USB ports, and the group said specifications should be ready by the middle of next year.
According to some newly-leaked slides, Intel is planning quite a solid state drive release spree for the second quarter of 2014, one that will see the introduction of three storage solutions - the SSD Pro 2500 Series (codename Temple Star), SSD DC P3500 Series (Pleasantdale) and SSD DC P3700 Series (Fultondale). All three SSD families are going to utilize 20 nm MLC NAND Flash memory, will be available in two form factors and will be backed by a five-year warranty.
The SSD Pro 2500 Series drives come in 2.5-inch and M.2 sizes and deliver sequential read and write speeds of up to 540 MB/s and 490 MB/s, respectively. Capacity-wise, the SSDs will be available in 80 GB, 180 GB, 240 GB and 480 GB versions.
The SSD DC P3500 Series will reach read/write speeds of 2800/1700 MB/s and are set to ship in 2.5-inch and PCIe add-in-card (AIC) form, in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB capacities. As for the SSD DC P3700 Series, the only models packing HET (High Endurance Technology) NAND chips, these will also be available in 2.5-inch and PCIe AIC versions, and top 2800/1700 MB/s when reading/writing, but they will come in 200 GB, 400 GB, 800 GB, 1.6 TB and 2 TB capacities.
For Intel, perceptual computing remains a way to re-invigorate the PC, still the platform that Intel has hitched its wagon to. (Rival AMD has sewn up the console market with its own chips, including the Microsoft Xbox One and its Kinect sensor.) However, Intel is facing a PC market that is declining faster than expected. Intel began showing off its perceptual computing chops earlier this year (although the head of that effort, Mooly Eden, recently left the company). And several PC OEMs have said that they’ll begin integrating Kinect-like depth sensors into the laptop bezel, giving apps makers like Shikumi the hardware necessary to develop upon.
Intel also previously named three grand prize winners of the first phase of its contest: Matthew Pilz’s Magic Doodle Pad; Lin Yunfan’s “JOY” dynamic phrase generator, which also controls track playback via gestures; and Matthew Hoban’s “Mystic Blocks” game. We were also impressed by Unicorn Force’s game, Head of the Order, which uses “Ultima Underworld”-style glyph drawing to cast spells at enemies.
For now, perceptual computing remains more of a curiosity than anything, with a few niche applications. But Intel, Microsoft, and others hope that will change. Intel will have more to show in the perceptual computing space at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Let’s face it: aside from the tired “put your hands in the air” schtick, modern DJing can be a pretty low-key affair. But a new app from Japan’s Shikumi Design could put the energy back in the booth.
On Tuesday, Intel announced the winner of the Perceptual Computing Challenge—Shikumi, whose Kagura app won $100,000 from the chipmaker for its use of gestures that could be interpreted with a Microsoft Kinect-like camera attached to a PC. (Microsoft also gave Shikumi its own award for the app earlier this year.)
Kagura—which, like so many contest winners, appears to be a proof of concept—allows users to play a number of virtual instruments just by waving their hands. Placing a hand over a drum icon, for example, plays a beat, while a user could wiggle his or her virtual fingers to “play” a mandolin. The app appears to be fairly sophisticated, allowing users to control the tempo via gestures, for example, or record sound samples on the fly.
As the demonstration video below plays, your first thought might be: how is this any different than a turntable, keyboard, or touch screen? But as the music plays on, there’s a glimpse of what this app could be: a fusion of dance and gestures, allowing the DJ to play pre-recorded samples or tracks, mix in a custom instrument or two, and do it in a way that’s visually engaging.
Professor MD Tuesday, 12/03/13 09:28:16 PM
AMD to leave the CPU market:
Leaked roadmap shows new focus on APUs
Aava Mobile Inari (8.3" and 10")
Acer Iconia W4 ($330)
Asus Transformer Book T100 ($349 includes MS Office)
Dell Venue 8 Pro ($299 includes MS Office)
Dell Venue 11 Pro (with Bay Trail,Core i3 or Core i5)
Fujitsu Stylistic Q584 10"(2560x1600, 10-hour battery, 4GB RAM)
HP Omni 10
Lenovo Miix2 8" Windows 8.1 tablet ($299 with MS Office)
Medion Akoya P2212T (2-in-1, FullHD, Celeron N2910 (Bay Trail-M))
Sharp Mebius Pad (2560x1600 display)
Toshiba Encore (rumored $329)
To be announced:
Asus "M80T" (Windows, Android, or Dual-Boot)
Acer Iconia A1 refresh (Android)
Lenovo Miix 10 refresh (rumored $449)
Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 refresh
Ramos i10 Pro (Dual Boot, Full HD)
Surge Tab PH-101 (dual boot - Windows 8 and Android)
There will be alot more. Intel says they have over 140 Bay Trail design wins.
Acer Aspire R7
Asus Transformer Book Trio (3-in-1, dual-boot)
Asus Transformer Book T300
Dell Venue 11 Pro (with Bay Trail,Core i3 or Core i5)
Dell XPS 11 (Yoga-like)
Dell XPS 12
Fujitsu Stylistic Q704
Fujitsu Lifebook T904 Convertible
Fujitsu Lifebook T734
HP Spectre 13 X2 (fanless)
HP Split X2 (with Haswell)
Lenovo Yoga 2
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga
Lenovo Yoga 11s
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Sony VAIO Tap 11
Sony VAIO Flip
Sony VAIO Duo 13
To be announced:
Acer Bulgari (rumor)
Acer Aspire P3 refresh
Lenovo Helix 2
Note: I'm not including the traditional notebooks/ultrabooks form-factor with touchscreens.
If Intel and friends can pull-off the dual-OS trick in a slick way they’ll have a valuable selling point and a ‘bridge’ between the app-gap in Windows and the consumer richness of Android. Ramos already have a set of Intel-powered Android tablets in China but the Ramos i10 Pro is said to be coming with a dual-OS option on a Baytrail core.
There aren’t enough details available to see how Ramos are going to offer the dual-os option. Will it be dual-boot (not desirable), or Android in a Windows runtime (like Bluestacks), a BIOS-driven instant switch / sleep like Insyde are offering (video below), a dual-CPU option as in the Samsung Transformer Book Trio or virtual machines on a hypervisor. If Intel develop the latter, (and given that they develop i86/i64 Android in-house and own most of the comms and controller hardware now, there’s more possibility than ever before) then they have a very interesting proposition, assuming BayTrail is powerful enough to run it.
The Ramos i10 Pro is likely to be based on the i10 which offers a 1920×1200 10-inch display. The source says, however, that it may ‘wait until next year.’ Keep an eye out for this at CES in Jan.
I’ve seen Android running on Baytrail-T and I’ve even handled a few Ramos devices recently. The potential offering here is an exciting one and something we’ll be tracking closely. Could this be the ultimate 2-in-1 solution?
"Insyde Muiltiple Android Windows and Fast OS Switching. 5 second OS switching. Acer have been using Insyde and Android for a couple of years and this was being demontrated on an Acer V7 so I wonder if the next Acer laptops will use this."
It’s clear that Baytrail-M PCs will be the low-cost options in the touch notebook and 2-in-1 space. This Medion Akoya P2212T, spotted in Austria, comes with a Celeron N2910, a Full-HD 11.6-inch screen, 64GB SSD + 500GB HDD and costs only 399 Euro, inclusive of taxes. There’s even an AC-capable WiFi module. Where’s the catch?
An 840 gram tablet seems acceptable, especially when it’s an 11.6-inch one at 399 Euros but to turn it into the laptop you’ll have to double that weight. Having said that, you do get the 500GB HDD, additional battery and keyboard which, it has to be said, is the important bit we don’t know about yet. The screen is an IPS-like one, if “Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle” does what it says, and at FullHD resolution there’s nothing to moan about there. You’ve got USB 3.0 and USB2.0 on the tablet along with audio, MicroHDMI and a microSD slot. On the base unit there are two further USB2.0 ports. (Shame those aren’t USB3.0.)
Front cam, microphone, Dolby Advanced Audio and the Intel AC 3160 WiFi module (dual-band, 433Mbps, WiDi capable) round-off the specs for this Windows 8.1 2-in-1.
The Celeron CPU does have some limitations when you consider that it’s a 1.6Ghz processor with no Turbo Boost, no Hyperthreading and no Intel Quick Sync video (video encoder/decoder – we’ll have to see how video playback performs.) Coupled with 2GB of RAM it’s obviously aimed more at home and student usage.
Medion say you’ll get 10 hours of battery life.
Sales start in Hofer, an Aldi company, in Austria and we would expect the offer to spread to Germany and possibly the UK. Given the timing, the price and the coverage (Aldi have over 9000 sales locations,) expect this to sell good numbers, in the same way that the first Aldi netbook did in 2008. Remember that Medion is a Lenovo company too so we might see a variant of this under the Ideapad Miix Brand. Miix 11 anybody?
Spotted in UAE and Singapore is a new 10-inch Lenovo Flex 10. We’ve seen the 14-inch version of this running a Core CPU but here’s something that lines up with the new class of netbook-style devices. Available with four different CPUs, up to 4GB of RAM and weighing 1.2KG it is priced locally at around S$699 (US$562.)
◦Intel® Quad Core™ Pentium™ N3510 processor
◦Intel® Quad Core™ Celeron® N2910 processor
◦Intel® Dual Core™ Celeron® N2810 processor
◦Intel® Dual Core™ Celeron® N2805 processor
Retail outlets are starting to offer the product. For example we spotted a 10.1-inch, Windows 8, 508 GB (indicating an SSD-cache), 2GB RAM, Celeron 2Ghz dual-core, 1366×768 for the equivalent of 340 Euro.
There’s no SD card and no removable battery and the screen is a basic 1366×768. Pentium models will come with 4GB RAM .
Lenovo have the Lenovo Flex 10 on their website here.
Two laptops running Celeron-branded Baytrail-M processors have been spotted for sale in Germany. The Toshiba Satellite NB10t runs the 2.0Ghz dual-core N2810 (7.7W TDP) while the Packard Bell Easy Note ME69 runs with a cheaper 1.4Ghz dual-core N2805 (4.5W TDP.) Prices are interesting, especially considering they have touchscreens.
For the 10-inch Packard Bell you’ll pay just 299 Euro. it weighs 1.08KG and comes with 2BG RAM, 1366×768 touch, 28Wh battery, Windows 8.1 and Office Home and Student. That’s really not a bad price.
The Toshiba is likely to be the more productive though as it takes the screen size to 11.6-inches and includes 4GB RAM. It also includes the 2.0Ghz dual-core CPU. Weight is 1.3KG and it costs a little more: 369 Euro-400 Euro. There’s no Office software included.
Remember you’re getting USB3.0 and SATA-interfaces for the drives on Baytrail-M. The CPU has 64-bit support but you’re getting 32-bit Windows. It’s technically possible that these devices could support Connected Standby / InstantGo but with a spinning hard drive inside both, it’s not within the required specs. SSD upgrade and BIOS hack anyone?
Intel are expecting low-cost 2-in-1’s to appear with Baytrail-M. When we see performance and efficiency figures for these two laptops we’ll get an idea of how those 2-in-1’s will perform. That should come when these devices become available in November. The HP Pavilion X2 2-in-1 is one of the first expected with Baytrail-M. We’re not expecting that before Christmas though.
VeeCee Tuesday, 12/03/13 06:20:22 PM
We have not finished 2013 yet. All of of 2014 is still ahead of us. I am not sure any rumors at this stage has any value.
This is a full resolution tablet (1920x1080). Great price in comparison to other 10" tablets.