Intel Loses Steam Thread

Discussion in 'Graphics and Semiconductor Industry' started by Raqia, Jan 21, 2014.

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  1. Raqia

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    With Intel laying off 5% of its workforce and delaying opening of its AZ 14nm foundry, perhaps it's time to start an Intel Shows Signs of Strain / Execution Gloom Thread.

    Even Intel is now succumbing to the massive costs of process refinements and seeing the need to open itself to fabbing for third parties as well as slowing down Tick-Tock with the delay of Broadwell. Meanwhile, the likes of TSMC have now had years of experience as a foundry partner, and Intel is a fledgling with its own design rules that are only familiar to itself.

    Atom was a second class citizen at Intel and languished for far too long while Intel focused on pushing its high end far past the knee of the curve when it comes to performance per watt. Atom was a barely acceptable as a netbook part and at the same time, too power hungry to be a great mobile platform. As a result, ARM compatible systems are now dominant, with the added plus of flexibility for custom implementations. Apple's A7 shows very impressive performance and interesting design choices in on die cache for instance that wouldn't be as exclusive or custom had they gone to Intel instead.

    Xeon Phi has seen extremely limited acceptance so far compared to the relatively well established GPU architectures. The new Silvermont module will be the basis of future designs but we shall see if this is enough to find acceptance and keep existing GPU architectures at bay.

    I also wouldn't be surprised to see a full stop to money losing ventures like Itanium in the near future in an effort to shore up now limited resources.
     
  2. Grall

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    Isn't itanic basically dead anyway right now, with what remains in the way of development only to "clear the pipe" so to speak, with no future projects being started?

    Intel clearly missed the ship initially with mobile, but you know from past fumbles how quickly they can bounce back from that. We saw it with pentium-m/the original core, after the ongoing debacle that had been pentium4.

    Calling doom and gloom on this company is way premature. They're going to have to change some habits in their normal way of doing business, sure, but what company can just keep on trucking business as usual decade after decade?
     
  3. entity279

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    it's tempting to answer your rhetorical question but this is not RSPC :wink:
     
  4. Wynix

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    Your thread title isn't very clear; I thought it had something to do with Valve.
     
  5. Raqia

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    Apologies for the unclear title, I wasn't aware of any existing deal Intel had with Valve or any reason why Valve wouldn't support Intel platforms. It's not meant to be the same as the AMD thread (hence "Losing Steam"), however the new reality seems like Intel is slowing down and executing in a slowing PC environment and a upstart in mobile rather than head and shoulders above anyone else in a PC growing environment. It's not anywhere close to AMD in terms of finances, I agree; earnings last quarter were merely disappointing, not negative.

    There are some differences between the environment Intel faces now and what it faced back with its x86 competitors. It doesn't own the instruction set anymore and the modern paradigm seems to be to design your own SoC against open standards and to find your own fab. I'll point to Apple's excellent A6 and A7 as poster children of this, and I doubt the likes Apple would really want to revert to a model where Intel owns a lot more of the intellectual property present in their silicon. The one positive rumor that I've heard in Intel's favor is that the next Nexus will be based on a Silvermont SoC. JITers are making it easier to be hardware agnostic though there probably will still be compatibility headaches. Intel doesn't have monopoly status in mobile and though the market is growing, its margins will be thinner here, and even though it will do respectably here, it's hard to see how it will seize a dominant position here going forward.

    If Intel opens its foundries in the future, it transitions to a less profitable mode of filling its capacity since it's not getting the profit at the point of sale anymore, and I expect its 1 node advantage over the rest of the industry won't last forever especially with slowing profit margins and dwindling expenditures on new capacity; the transition to 450 mm wafers will also be expensive. It will gradually be one among many peers rather than head and shoulders above the rest in the foundry business although certainly a force to be reckoned with.

    I don't see Intel losing its dominance for traditional PCs and servers, though microservers and APUs are chipping away at its market share and margins in this space. Intel will be solidly profitable based solely on this, but last quarter we saw the effects of this new reality on its bottom line.
     
  6. homerdog

    homerdog donator of the year
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    Me too :smile:

    Intel will soon dominate the mobile landscape. Their process advantage cannot be overcome, and the Atom architecture is getting much better each generation. They will simply have to learn to play the higher volume, lower margins game in this market.

    Of course they can continue to charge whatever they want in the foreseeable future for the high end stuff since they are so far ahead there nobody is even trying to compete.
     
  7. Raqia

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    Intel's process dominance in the past doesn't guarantee its dominance going into the future. Continuing to refine the foundry process requires ever increasing investments which they're starting to postpone. The missing income from sustained growth and additional capacity will likely hurt in the future when very large investments are needed to develop around hard physical limits past 10nm that everyone will face. Intel themselves have said that they see a "clear path" to 10nm, but it'll be challenging even for them past that and their relative advantage now might seem smaller in the face of a physical limit. And though Intel is ahead process wise, its competitors are not as far behind as the name of their nodes seems to indicate. (See: http://www.chip-architect.com/news/2010_09_04_AMDs_Bobcat_versus_Intels_Atom.html) It's looking more like Intel is sitting amongst peers as time goes on.

    As for mobile, it won't enjoy monopoly pricing power in mobile or have its shady "rebates" program to sway customers going forward. When it comes to SoCs, other companies like Qualcomm, Apple, and AMD have just as much expertise and excellent existing products based increasingly on licensed 3rd party IP like ARM CPUs and PowerVR GPUs. Intel will certainly be very competitive, I seem to remember interesting technologies like on chip, CMOS modems, but I seriously doubt it'll achieve the heights of the Intel of old since it will have to make do with its sliver of the mobile pie.
     
  8. UniversalTruth

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    Guys, do you really think that 'sustained' growth with "limits" somewhere in the skies or in the infinity, is a sane idea, in the first place, on a planet with limited resources and actually no real need for a corporation to get even richer beyond a certain sane point?

    Doesn't 'sustained' growth lead exactly to this:

    'sustained growth' is exactly where capitalism as a world system is extremely vulnerable because it is not possible...

    And I think they need to get used to it and at least try to keep the corporation as big as it is without going into unknown adventures and challenges, because Nokia (someone who wasn't expected, just few years ago, to be in a so bad shape) can tell them a good example
     
  9. nutball

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    See, in the RWT thread on this subject, several people said just the opposite, ie. their competitors are not as close as their node names might suggest.

    As for mobile - well I certainly wouldn't bet against them getting it right eventually.

    The other side of mobile is that all these mobile devices don't exist in a vacuum - a large part of the mobile boom relies on big data centres to feed the mobile devices, and this is where Intel has no competition. Personally I don't believe that the ARM micro-server stuff will gain any traction outside one or two companies that do stuff on a such as different scale that they can afford to mess about with custom CPUs. Put it this way - I think that Intel will make more progress in mobile than ARM will in the data centre.
     
  10. Raqia

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    That's fair and thanks for the heads up to the RWT thread. Intel will be solidly profitable and a leader in process for the foreseeable future, but we're getting well into diminishing returns when it comes to fab investments and keeping the same distance from the field will start to get harder and harder especially without the growth in income Intel was expecting. I think these rumblings mean that it is unlikely that Intel will enjoy the kind of dynasty it had for x86 during the 90's and 00's going forward.

    As for monopolies, I have nothing against benevolent and efficiently run monopolies but of course, Intel was anything but that.
     
  11. Raqia

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    BTW, are you talking about the thread root entitled: "14nm Fab 42 killed before birth?"
     
  12. eastmen

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    maybe more cores in the consumer market will get people buying again . 6 and 8 core chips with the new batch of games like star citizen will start a buying spree
     
  13. nutball

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    No I don't think it was in there. I think(*) it was a sub-tentacle of the sprawling death-of-Calxeda thread. That thread touches on a number of the issues you raise, and some of the non-trolly/flamey bits are interesting (to me at least).

    (*) Please don't blame me if you read it all and find out I've mis-remembered :)
     
  14. UniversalTruth

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    So, they postponed the installation of equipment in that fab in Arizona, but will ask TSMC to manufacture their chips, right? :lol:
     
  15. Malo

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    Can we change Steam to Impetus or something? Or at least not capitalize every word?
     
  16. Raqia

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    I see that the title really is causing some cognitive dissonance!
     
  17. karlotta

    karlotta pifft
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    Wow...14nm is so old school. Wasnt worth the effort, ARM is rolling well at that.

    But I give you one word times two; "D1X". Google that. And there will be two of them. Intel wants out of AZ(can you blame them?). Even slowing down at Rancho.

    Intel has a sweet deal in Oregon, and will dominate with 10nm...

    @UT; The only "resources" are peoples minds. "Sustainability" is a Economic model for a business, the earth doesn't do econ. All that matters is your perception of your quality of life.
     
  18. Sxotty

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    I thought it was a good title especially in comparison to the others. A good idea of where they are.
     
  19. milk

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    I suggest changing the thread's title to "Intel is Nearly Out of Windows" as in it's window of oportunity to make it big in the mobile space.
     
  20. Sxotty

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    Intel running out of windows of opportunity, but that is getting long. In any case Intel is still well positioned. I am much more worried about nvidia's continued viability. I feel that anti trust actions will keep AMD around regardless of how poorly they do, but nothing will keep nvidia around if serious mistakes continue to be made. Any company taking risks will make mistakes and intel is no different, but they have way more latitude in taking risks still as they can absorb losses associated with them more easily.
     
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