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Mobile: Intel Will Overtake Qualcomm In Three Years

Is A Changing Of The Guard Imminent?

When you are done reading this article, you will agree that Intel is going to overtake Qualcomm in three years. We know that Intel's technology hasn't gone into any smartphones yet, while Qualcomm realized more than $4 billion of revenue in the last quarter. 

So, to make our point, we have to perform a magic trick. All magic tricks have three acts. The first part is called "The Pledge." That's where we do something ordinary: talk about CPU architecture. Any editorial team can do that. The second act is called "The Turn." We take our ordinary article and make it do something extraordinary. This is where we get into the details of chip fabrication and the history of mobile GPUs, something only a few editorial teams can do.

Now you're looking for the punchline. You still don't believe Intel has what it takes. But you won't see the secret because you don't know where to look. You don't really want to know. You are waiting to be fooled, and you're not yet ready to clap because writing about CPU architecture, chip fabrication, and mobile graphics isn't enough. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige."

Three years ago, Internet Explorer was the industry’s dominant Web browser. Today, Google Chrome is in the lead. Today, Qualcomm is the dominant player in the mobile system-on-a-chip (MSoC) industry. In less than three years, Intel will take that position away.

That’s a bold claim, sure. But our team has been following the tech industry for over 15 years, and we’d like to think that experience gives us a unique perspective. We’ve seen AMD and Intel duke it out, ARM overtake MIPS and Super-H, and PowerVR and BitBoys rise from the ashes.

MSoCs are going to be a hot topic for the next three years, so you’re going to see a lot of prognostication. You’ll have completely crazy predictions, such as Robert X. Cringley’s. He’s the former tech writer for PBS.org who was once caught faking a Ph.D. from Stanford University and recently predicted that Intel was going to buy Qualcomm.

In our analysis, Intel will actually prove itself the company to beat.

A Difference Of Opinion

White papers and architectural analysis are very different from actual implementation and real-world testing. When most tech writers discuss a company’s developments, they use the abstract. But companies don’t create technologies; individual people do.

Take sports teams as an example. The Lakers might be better some years than others, but players like Kobe Bryant and coaches like Phil Jackson make Los Angeles a championship team. Put simply, when a company gets bought, rarely does the buyer want the whole company. Rather, it’s paying a premium for access to certain patents and, more importantly, access to critical human talent within the company.

To that end, the future of MSoCs will depend on, first, SoC architecture, second, fabrication skill, and third, graphics technology.

FTC disclosure: We own no stock in any of the companies discussed today. We work with all of them, though, and we review hardware that includes technology from each of the involved organizations.