Intel’s Next-Gen Atom Processors to Only Arrive End of 2013
Behind the scenes, Intel is trying to raise uncertainty around its competitors in the mobile field which have as crushing share as Intel has on the PC market. However, with continuous delays of their next-gen hardware, one must ask is "Intel's manufacturing advantage" really all that?
Over the course of last couple of weeks, the author of these lines traveled 38,000 miles back and forth between three continents and the amount of information received sometimes leaves a person analyzing for week or so – where the shift in the industry actually is.
Quite a good example is the comparison between four recently held conferences – NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference, AMD Fusion Developer Summit, Freescale Technology Forum and Qualcomm UPLINQ. However, there was one common thread between all four mentioned conferences – where is Intel, what are they doing with their mobile lineup, have you seen their reference phones etc.
Given that we have a tendency for demanding meat rather than listening to lovely FUD stories, we started digging to see where is Intel hiding its Valleyview SoC processors which threaten to "unleash the power of Intel's manufacturing" and all other typical marketing stereotypical statements. When we spoke with sources within Intel last year, we were told that their true mobile attack will come in 2012. When Mobile World Congress ended in February, we were told that the full out attack will start on the next MWC (February 25-28th, 2013). According to the latest roadmaps, that target is becoming more and more distant, with Valleyview SoC and the corresponding BayTrail platform won't see the light of day before the end of 2013, with the proper rollout of respective products (mobile phones, tablets, microservers) during 2014.
On paper, the whole platform looks promising. We have Bay Trail-T and Valleyview-T for mobile phones (until then, you're stuck with Oak Trail-based Atom Z6xx processors) which will support LPDDR3 memory from Day 1. Valleyview-T will be available in quad-core format as well, which means that by Q4 2013 both Qualcomm and TI need to have their processors candy-dandy, given the lead from HiSilicon, NVIDIA and Samsung.
The only problem is that taking a look at competitor's roadmaps, they seem to be more than ready for continuously-delayed "Intel chips that will change the world". Ultimately, Intel plans to utilize its 22nm fabs to the full extent, with the future migration to 14nm, but the mobile platform is looking to lag one process node behind the traditional desktop/notebook/server processors. The official line is that the company still prepares 22nm mobile node, but that node slipped deep into the 2013 and as we all know, you can buy 22nm processors from Intel… today.
All in all, the company has a lot of work on its plate and while you can never discard Intel's size and the will to put billions of dollars (if needed be) to get their products right. But for now, Valleyview's main competitor will be custom 64-bit ARM architectures such as Project Denver from NVIDIA and Qualcomm, as well as 64-bit ARM processing cores from HiSilicon, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Marvell and countless others. Furthermore, AMD will have their first generation of hybrid x86 + ARM + GPU processors.
Love the smell of napalm in the morning.