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Intel CEO on Competition: The Best Chip Will Win

By - Source: AThingsD | B 14 comments

A sign of arrogance or confidence?

In an interview with All Things Digital, Intel CEO Paul Otellini commented on the potential threat for Intel's business from ARM. The usual marketing pitches set aside, we have recently seen Intel rather modest and careful with its claims targeting ARM, in which the company typically states that it has the upper hand in manufacturing and performance, while the company concedes that ARM has some knowledge how to design very low power processors. However, in this specific interview, Otellini sounded different.

In a response to a question about Intel's rivals, including previous rivals such as Transmeta and Via, Otellini said:

"I happen to be around long enough to remember those guys," he said. "People come and go, and we’ve never had an exclusive, if you will. And, overall, the best chip has won."

Granted, All Things Digital did not reveal how the question was asked, but some people may have a different view on that. Back when Transmeta was a hot topic, the startup chipmaker put a spotlight on processors that consumed power more efficiently. While Transmeta had its own issues and never attained the credibility it needed to succeed, Intel's marketing machine contributed to Transmeta's decline.

While Intel surely did not have the most power-efficient processors at the time, I especially remember a podium discussion at the 2001 Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, which included Intel's principal engineer Bob Jackson, AMD's CTO Fred Weber, Transmeta's CEO David Ditzel and Via-Centaur president Glenn Henry, in which Henry cynically commented on Jackson's explanations of Intel's power efficient processors that he would not have to talk about Via's technology since Intel will always claim to have the best processor. Of course, he referred to Intel's arrogance about its technology and the frustration of other chip makers that could not hold against Intel's marketing power.

Other than Otellini's remark that "people come and go", this time Intel is not directly competing with one company, ARM, but with an array of vendors that include heavy weights such as Samsung, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Marvell, and Nvidia. It's unlikely that we speak of those guys as "come and go". There is much more marketing power Intel will have to match - and there will be new markets that will be  fought over as Intel is moving down market and ARM makers are moving upmarket.

In this scenario we expect potshots to be fired now and then, but Otellini's blank statement was surprising nevertheless. We all want the best technology to succeed, but we also know that a good dose of competition will promote the creation of ever better technologies.

 

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  • 11 Hide
    CaedenV , October 29, 2012 2:25 PM
    slow news day?
    Seriously, how can you make news out of such a statement? I mean, every company thinks they have the best thing on the market, or at least a feature that makes their product in some way better than the others. When it comes down to it, x86 is where the bulk of software lives for the moment, so nobody is going to be rushing to replace their x86 systems with ARM any time soon. The much larger issue is that the software focus on smaller power efficient systems has put a virtual end to any need to upgrade existing x86 systems. Because of that saturation in the desktop market Intel is now focusing their efforts into expanding into cell phone and tablet markets, and if the benchmarks we have seen on Haswell and Atom CPUs are to be believed then ARM is in for some stiff competition very quickly, and with the next die shrink in 2014 we will start to see Intel shipping chips that can do more than ARM at the same or lower power usage.

    I think Intel's bigger blind spot is in their graphics department. HD4000 is finally 'fast enough' for entry level use... but is not available on entry level chips. The Atom cell phone CPUs are freaking sweet... but the graphics bundled with them are 1/2 the speed (or less) than the competition, which is frankly unacceptable for most users. If they want to be price competitive on mobile platforms then they need to get a solid in-house graphics unit for their CPUs. They cannot continue shipping stellar mobile chips with crap GPUs, or rely on 3rd party GPUs that are too expensive for the performance they deliver. I know they are getting better... but not better enough fast enough to compete with the iGPUs that are bundled with their ARM and AMD counterparts.
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    amdwilliam1985 , October 29, 2012 2:19 PM
    Sounds good to me, looking forward to Intel making more splashes in the mobile market.
    I heard the Motorola Rzar Mi is pretty good over all, might lack a little bit in terms of battery. But considering it's the first generation and built on 32nm, we can expect Intel to bring on much better competition next year with better performance and battery with 22nm.
  • 5 Hide
    joz , October 29, 2012 2:19 PM
    VIVA LA VIA!
  • 11 Hide
    CaedenV , October 29, 2012 2:25 PM
    slow news day?
    Seriously, how can you make news out of such a statement? I mean, every company thinks they have the best thing on the market, or at least a feature that makes their product in some way better than the others. When it comes down to it, x86 is where the bulk of software lives for the moment, so nobody is going to be rushing to replace their x86 systems with ARM any time soon. The much larger issue is that the software focus on smaller power efficient systems has put a virtual end to any need to upgrade existing x86 systems. Because of that saturation in the desktop market Intel is now focusing their efforts into expanding into cell phone and tablet markets, and if the benchmarks we have seen on Haswell and Atom CPUs are to be believed then ARM is in for some stiff competition very quickly, and with the next die shrink in 2014 we will start to see Intel shipping chips that can do more than ARM at the same or lower power usage.

    I think Intel's bigger blind spot is in their graphics department. HD4000 is finally 'fast enough' for entry level use... but is not available on entry level chips. The Atom cell phone CPUs are freaking sweet... but the graphics bundled with them are 1/2 the speed (or less) than the competition, which is frankly unacceptable for most users. If they want to be price competitive on mobile platforms then they need to get a solid in-house graphics unit for their CPUs. They cannot continue shipping stellar mobile chips with crap GPUs, or rely on 3rd party GPUs that are too expensive for the performance they deliver. I know they are getting better... but not better enough fast enough to compete with the iGPUs that are bundled with their ARM and AMD counterparts.
  • 1 Hide
    redeemer , October 29, 2012 3:21 PM
    Intel has already set a milestone for transcoding with Quick Sync!
  • 1 Hide
    DRosencraft , October 29, 2012 3:22 PM
    Not yet arrogance, but could turn out to be. That's the most you can really say here. It's good to be confident. But sometimes a company can get too confident to the point of arrogance. That has happened to Intel in the past, and they recovered from it spectacularly. So, good luck to them for now. They are the leader and look to be holding on easily to that spot. They will keep it so long as they don't get complacent. If you're an Intel fan then hope they don't fall into the same traps they did in the past.
  • -4 Hide
    billj214 , October 29, 2012 3:38 PM
    It seems that most companies are walking away from X86 where Intel dominates (95%) and are focused on ARM low power chips for tablets and phones.

    I forsee that if ARM does not get built on the processing technology similiar to Intel has than it will be nothing but a memory. Newer Fabs offers lower costs, power consumption and increased speeds which regardless of ARM's benefits it will lose due to profitability.

    Buy Intel stock now while its dirt cheap, by the end of 2013 Intel will likely have 1000% increase in market share for mobile markets and likely Apple will switch over completely.
  • 3 Hide
    ojas , October 29, 2012 3:41 PM
    DRosencraftNot yet arrogance, but could turn out to be. That's the most you can really say here. It's good to be confident. But sometimes a company can get too confident to the point of arrogance. That has happened to Intel in the past, and they recovered from it spectacularly. So, good luck to them for now. They are the leader and look to be holding on easily to that spot. They will keep it so long as they don't get complacent. If you're an Intel fan then hope they don't fall into the same traps they did in the past.

    I didn't really see any arrogance here either. Sounded more confident, that yes Intel can dominate. He wasn't gloating over the fact that Intel has more market share than AMD, or that Intel's high-end is out of AMD's reach for now.

    I actually think ARM behaves more arrogantly towards Intel, making very public comments on how Intel won't be able to penetrate their market.

    Quote:
    I know they are getting better... but not better enough fast enough to compete with the iGPUs that are bundled with their ARM and AMD counterparts.

    The Clover Trail SoCs have much better GPUs, PowerVR 544/545 iirc. That's >= the VR 543 variant in Apple's A6.
    But yeah they need HD-4000 level graphics in those Atoms. Probably happen next year when they release the 22nm Atoms.
  • 0 Hide
    tripledouce , October 29, 2012 4:23 PM
    So nice to see a little healthy competition to help make the products better.
  • 4 Hide
    cookoy , October 29, 2012 4:45 PM
    May the best value chips win. No marketing to sweeten the deals. No strong-arm tactics to put pressure on distributors/retailers. And definitely no lawyers please.
  • 7 Hide
    alidan , October 29, 2012 5:55 PM
    yea...

    Quote:
    "People come and go, and we’ve never had an exclusive, if you will. And, overall, the best chip has won."


    no... amd should be FAR further ahead than they are now, but intel went monopoly when amd was dominating intel. if the best chip really won there... amd wouldn't be moving away from the desktop today.
  • 0 Hide
    Zingam_Duo , October 29, 2012 7:13 PM
    No news, we already know that ARM is going to win! ;) 
  • -2 Hide
    Zingam_Duo , October 29, 2012 7:15 PM
    amdwilliam1985Sounds good to me, looking forward to Intel making more splashes in the mobile market.I heard the Motorola Rzar Mi is pretty good over all, might lack a little bit in terms of battery. But considering it's the first generation and built on 32nm, we can expect Intel to bring on much better competition next year with better performance and battery with 22nm.



    :D  Hahahaha.... might lack a little bit in terms of battery.... hahahahah... you know how to joke! BATTERY is the most important feature of a mobile device ;) 
  • 5 Hide
    slabbo , October 29, 2012 8:47 PM
    best chip doesn't always win. it's how many companies you can bully into submission to restrict the competition that wins more often (ie. K7)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 30, 2012 2:18 PM
    Device manufacturers will price chips (CPUs) to see what will get the job done for the cheepest price, choose the product based on price/performence ratio, and build their products! most of the devices
    that are used do not need the hi performence Intel CPUs to get the job done. The Processing power
    of ARM chips has been sufficient to get the job done for most people for some time now, and processors
    are now more of a commodity, like pork bellys! The real race is not in the CPU but in the GPU, and the GPU paired with x86 or ARM, along with HSA and energy efficiency, will be what shapes the market.