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back to article How Intel's faith in x86 cost it the mobile market

You can’t fault departing Intel CEO Paul Otellini by claiming he didn't spot the way personal computing was becoming more mobile. He certainly did. But you can argue that his strategy for adapting the chip maker to the trend really wasn’t the right one. But as a 40-year Intel veteran it was never very likely he would reject one …

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Intel aquired the 64 bit RISC Alpha CPU from HP (who got it from DEC via Compaq) in 2001. If they had pursued this CPU design the computer world would have been a very different. I once ran Linux on an Alpha PC.

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Licence

The earlier chips were cloned by various manufacturers without any licences. (i.e. they were different internally, but behaved the same.)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2001/mar/08/onlinesupplement5

"Originally, Acorn planned to use Intel's 286 chip in its Archimedes computer. But because Intel would not let it license the 286 core and adapt it, Acorn decided to design its own. "

Surprised the article didn't include this.

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Just remember this...

If IBM had chosen the 68k over the 8088 for the original PC, Intel would probably be dust right now. They wouldn't be making CPU chips, but probably EPROMS, and DRAM chips like jellybeans.

Yes, I believe that the 68k is a much better processor, and might have cured several mistakes that were made back in 1981 for the original PC. Wishful thinking (*SIGH*).

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it's the licensing

1st the desktop world is rapidly going 64bit... but that's largely AMD IP, licensed *by* Intel.

2nd a major factor in losing out everywhere else by refusing to license x86 or any other IA *to* competitors, except where they'd already been forced to in court last century. After AMD there was no credible alternative and never going to be another. That's a powerful incentive to switch platform even if Intel managed to deliver the low power CPUs the world needs. Few will willingly tie their future to a single supplier, especially one with Intels history of abuse.

The licensing issues means even if Intel deliver a perfect CPU there won't be mass migration to use it. It cedes control of company futures to Intel, with no backup plan.

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Plenty of faith in Atom smashing their profits.

Ultrabook chipsets was their last great cash grab in the mobile market.

Cheap and cheerful Intel Atom always had to be stopped/limited.

Apple stepped in with ARM and the rest is history.

The problem now is that even Apple's Intel Macs have problems selling.

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RISCy business for ARM

Intel could do a lot worse than buy up or licence the MIPS architecture. Direct competitor to (and architecturally similar to) ARM, and unlike ARM, has already made the jump to 64 bit some time ago...

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Power consumption?

Maybe when passive an Atom can use as low power as some ARMs. But actually running the lowest power x86 system can be x5 consumption of ARM system, excluding screen and Transmitters.

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Re: Power consumption?

Atom SoCs are using the same amount of power as ARM. That's 1x the consumption of ARM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Atom SoCs are using the same amount of power as ARM"

Citations needed.

Power (watts), watts vs performance, board area + chip count (ie what else besides "the computer" is on the SoC), system cost, etc, even things like developer support for the non-Wintel market, all come into this. And ARM licencees generally knock spots off the x86 competition in those areas.

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Amen

IA = Intel Architecture; must be why they chose to fall on their sword; it WAS their sword lol.

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Boffin

In tech we eat our own

Intel has a singular linguistic problem. The word "cannibalize" is seen as an argument against any new technology, as in "we could do that, but it would cannibalize our (desktop/laptop/server) sales." Guess what: if you don't do it, somebody else will. Intel needs to embrace the Fine Young Cannibals that bring progress by eating the slow-moving ill members of their pack. They need to take up cannibalism as a core corporate ethic.

Intel needs to find some Young Turks and tell them: Kill a business group if you can. Count coup and you will be the boss of that realm until another younger, faster, hungrier Turk comes to supplant you.

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Anonymous Coward

ARM for baseband chips and Mobiles OS's

The success ARM achieved was due to the fact that manufactures could license the ARM CPU and include it with their base band chips responsible for communicating over the airwaves. It is designed to be as simple as possible to aid other manufactures incorporating the CPU on the same silicone with their RF modules.

Integrating many chips is what led to the early mobiles being smaller and less power hungry.

Mobile phone manufactures could create their own custom RF chips and include the ARM core which would enable running the vast software written for the ARM platform.

The ARM CPU would struggle to compete on performance with the highly sophisticated designs from Intel. It has succeeded in being incorporated into the majority of base band chips and running many mobile operating systems that don’t require heavy compute power.

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