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Intel starts to pull ahead of ARM-based competitors as Samsung stalls

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Intel starts to pull ahead of ARM-based competitors as Samsung stalls
During the height of PC dominance, Intel was the proverbial 800 pound gorilla – and it ate whatever (or whoever) it wanted. Upstart semiconductor companies like AMD faced a true David vs. Goliath type of challenge when they tried to take the behemoth on, with Intel often twisting the arms of computer makers like Dell to stay Intel-only if they wanted to maintain their “special pricing”.

In that era Intel earned the nickname “Chipzilla”, and it was an apt description of the manufacturing power and market dominance they enjoyed in the x86 chip-making arena. The problem with being large, of course, is you aren’t very nimble. Chipzilla was pretty much blind-sided when ARM chipsets rode the smartphone wave, culminating in the present situation where mobile devices outsell laptops and PCs by a margin that is only getting bigger as time goes on, with Intel scrambling to get a foothold in the rapidly evolving mobile market. Samsung, in particular, was threatening to unseat Intel as the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world.

Just because Intel was down the last few years, however, doesn’t mean it was out. Despite the fact that we are still waiting for a smartphone or tablet to reach the market with Intel inside, Intel has expanded its lead as the overall chip maker, according to data released by HIS iSuppli. Chipzilla expanded its take of the semiconductor market from 13.1% in 2012 to 15.6% of the market in 2011, while Samsung’s chips (lead by their Exynos SoC platform grew less than a percent to land in second place with 9.6% of the market.

How did Intel do this while they are still working feverishly to get their CPUs into smartphones and tablets? The PC market picked up a bit last year, but they also benefited from some of their strategic investment into the NAND flash memory used in mobile devices, as well as their purchase of Infineon, another wireless chip maker.

The short and long of this is Intel seems to have righted its ship, just in time for their first serious mobile chipsets to ship. With the rest of their business helping to generate industry-leading revenue, and their vast experience bringing new technologies to the market, Intel is probably the company to beat in the mobile industry, even if we still have a quarter or more to go before the first mobile product ships. Which can only mean fiercer competition for our smartphone dollars.

It appears that Chipzilla is back, and it looks hungry...

source: IHS-iSuppli via SlashGear

17 Comments
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posted on 26 Mar 2012, 13:13 1

1. NOKIA.8800.ARTE (Posts: 100; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


I dont think so¡ intel A15 is coming, along with the one and only
®EXYNOS®

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 13:19 4

2. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


wait.. wait.. im confused

are you comparing Intel's PC business against samsung's mobile exynos line??

what an odd comparison.

AMD had a pretty poor showing compared to some of the monsters Intel has been coming out with for the last year. (nothing wrong with AMD though, I just built my brother a phenom2 PC), which is where i'd wager a good portion of their pick ups for the year came from as well.

What does Intel PC have to do with samsung Exynos? thats not apples n oranges.. thats like comparing apples.. and fish. they dont have a single connecting market between sandy bridge PC's and exynos flavored smartphones. Whats next, comparing samsung's home appliances to Windows 7? lol

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 14:30 4

5. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Well they are just comparing chips sold and talking about upcoming emergence into the mobile platform. Samsung was on pace to be the biggest semiconductor manufacturer so its relevant I guess that Intel came back. Article isn't really saying much to be honest not a true comparison of chips that would just be silly. Thats my take on it anyway. And I agree with the conclusion the Chipzilla looks hungry.

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 15:45 1

6. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol, i get that, but they are completely seperate lines. They have nothing to do with each other. Lets compare chinese food to plastic cups.

Odd that those are the first 2 things that i thought of.. lol

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 17:14 6

8. Scott_H (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


Hey Remixfa - it's a comparison of market positioning. Intel can only muscle its way into fields because it has so much money (and expertise) it can throw at a new sector. For a while it looked like Samsung (and maybe other ARM suppliers) would pass Intel up as the x86 market contracted and the mobile market grew, but with some smart purchases, investment into mobile NAND chips (which now accounts for a significant portion of their revenue) and a slight resurgence in PC sales Intel has been able to solidify their market position, which they'll need as they move further into mobile chipsets, since that will be investment heavy (and won't be profitable until they achieve sufficient market share).

It's not a comparison of who sells more mobile chips (remember those aren't just mobile chips for Samsung either, they make lots of parts for PCs and embedded devices), just that Intel is positioned to weather the initial investment storm.

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 22:10 2

10. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


I get that.. I dunno.. it just seems like 2 opposite things to compare. Intel sells PC chips between 200-1200 a pop. My god, how expencive would phones be if the exynos sold for that much!?!? lol

Ok, maybe I got threw off by you specifically naming the exynos line in there. So your comparing total chip foundry worth between the 2? (cpu, nand, ect) That makes a little more sense. Though the bulk of their business dont overlap. Samsung's PC business is basically repackaging Intel equipment, throwing on some MS software, a samsung screen and maybe samsung ram & hard drive, and calling it a day. So every samsung PC sold is a win for Intel. I have no idea if the motherboards are internally made or outsourced though.
Ok, Im rambling. Share a beer with me :) lolz.

If your going by total foundry worth, then the tides should be shifting back into Samsung's favor relatively quickly. Samsung's growth in 2011 was severely retarded by its american smartphone sales. Having the Exynos 4210 line not be able to use HSPA+ 42mb/s or LTE all but killed its use in its largest market, America. Since the 4212 and 5250 have both fixed that ... smaaaall oversite.., there should be explosive growth for their CPUs as the Exynos should not be traded out in any devices for a crapdragon for radio compatibility like they are now. Also they built new foundries last year with the express purpose of having enough surplus to start licencing out exynos to other companies (which i hope holds true).
Of course, if intel based WP8 Tablets come out soon enough and explode in use due to PC compatibility mode, that could be enough to hold intel's position.

It shall be an interesting year. :)

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 13:25

3. NOKIA.8800.ARTE (Posts: 100; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


No, im comparing on the x86 vs A15

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 13:28 1

4. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


not you, the article itself.. dodo. lol

intel PC has nothing to do with samsung mobile.

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 17:54 1

9. NOKIA.8800.ARTE (Posts: 100; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


You dodo, you was confused more than i was! I was refering to intel mobile chip vs arm-exynos.....

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 22:14

11. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


I think the Intel smartphone chip is going to be a power hungry flop, myself. I think ol chipzilla is going to get slapped around thinking it can just stuff old things into new packaging. In the tablet market, with the availibility of much bigger batteries, i have hope for them, but its going to be an utter failure in the smartphone market.

Not only in battery use, but app compatibility. android will have to have many of its base kernels rewritten to use x86 code. Apps will probably have to be made compatible. That just means its going to be a giant, force closing, mess.

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 16:10 2

7. Guest_star (Posts: 231; Member since: 30 Dec 2011)


They are comparing semiconductor manufacturers, not what they produce

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 22:16

12. zothen (Posts: 12; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


Silly article. Pulls ahead??? Numbers from only one of about a bajillion ARM SoC makers are used for comparison which makes no sense. There is also Qualcomm Snapdragon, TI OMAP, Nvidia Tegra, and Apple Ax who are very major players. If Samsung and some other ARM SoC makers' numbers have actually stalled, it would most like be due to Apple's huge success in smartphone and dominance in the tablet market. That and Qualcomm chips being more widely used (even in Samsung phones) due to being a better total RF solution for LTE markets. Though Samsung has already state that have their own RF solution now for phones later this year, so the Exynos marketshare will surely increase.

There are also many other lesser known (to direct consumers) ARM SoC companies like ST-Ericsson, Freescale who is in the Amazon Kindle e-reader and Automotive, Marvel who's ARM SoC's are in various products, Broadcom, many more.

Seems like the author wanted to score points with some Intel people. Hope they treat him well for it because it looks awefully silly. There are other reason's for Intel's marketshare to increase in the future like their manufacturing technology lead and slowly but surely making lower power chips, but that info isn't given here. Also, weaker competition from AMD probably helped Intel some, though it seems AMD is finally trying to be more competitive but I'm not sure if they have the resources to really compete in the long term.

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 22:28

13. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


zothen,

Apple doesnt make a chip. Samsung makes the A4/A5 for apple, so I'd assume those numbers are built into samsungs worth already.

Apple is a software developer, they dont make any hardware at all. They license it from other companies (mostly samsung and LG)

posted on 27 Mar 2012, 08:49

14. zothen (Posts: 12; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


remixfa,

No, that is not correct. At one time, Apple purchased all their SoCs from Samsung (iPods, iPhone 3G/3Gs) but the A4 (iphone4, AppleTV2, iPod touch xth gen) and A5 and A5 variants are all designed by Apple. See these links to read about the company's Apple bought for designing their chips:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.A._Semi and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsity. The latter, Intrinsity provided technology used by both Samsung and Apple. I'm sure Apple has hired many more people for chip design since those purchases.

Just about all companies that do ARM SoCs (except Samsung) pay someone else to manufacture the actual chip. Most use TSMC. Apple happens to use Samsung to manufacture but is rumored to start using TSMC for at least some of their chips in the next year or two.

You'll also find a recent article where Nvidia teased about using Intel as the manufacturer of their SoCs. That doesn't make it an Intel chip just like iPhone is still an Apple designed phone, not a Foxconn phone.

posted on 27 Mar 2012, 10:38

15. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


wikipedia is never an allowed source, ask any professor. :)

Samsung originally used that company that apple bought for chip designs. The A4 and the hummingbird are the exact same chip except that the hummingbird uses a slightly newer version of the powerVR GPU. The Exynos and A5 are also the exact same CPU, but Apple decided to stick with powerVR while Samsung went with Mali-400.
Those are samsung chips. They are made by samsung. The only thing apple did was buy the company that samsung got the original designs from. They still dont make a single chip themselves. They get every last one of them from Samsung. Which is why any Apple A4/A5/A5x production counts for samsung, not Apple.

There is a rumor that they might be getting away from samsung for the A6, which means the chip designs might finally differentiate, but for right now, they are rebranded samsung chips.

Thats also not true about ARM manufacturing. Samsung, Ti, Nvidia, and Qualcomm all have their own chip foundaries. With the exeption of Qualcomm, they all use modified ARM archetecture. Qualcomm makes their own designs.. which is why its pretty much always junk. Cheap.. mass produced.. very radio compatible.. but performance wise, they are behind.

posted on 28 Mar 2012, 12:00

16. zothen (Posts: 12; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


Remixfa, that is just more bad information. Please list your sources. As for mine, I listed wikipedia as it is in a quick and easy to read format. But you only need to google to find sources saying the exact same thing. What sources you find credible is up to you. But again I challenge you to list sources to support what you are saying (even wikipedia). And if you really believe what you are saying, go ahead and modify the wikipedia pages with your information.

As for me, I work one of the above companies and know without doubt you are incorrect. To correct your misinformation from the start:

"Apple is a software developer, they dont make any hardware at all. They license it from other companies (mostly samsung and LG)"

You don't even have the slightest knowledge of the history of Apple. Their starting out sell what then was considered PCs. This of course includes hardware. Their recent product all have arguably some of the best industrial design (enclosure hardware, board design, etc.) on the market. Do they contract some of that out? Possibly, but the design starts with them and ends with them. On to chip hardware...

"The Exynos and A5 are also the exact same CPU, but Apple decided to stick with powerVR while Samsung went with Mali-400.
Those are samsung chips. They are made by samsung. The only thing apple did was buy the company that samsung got the original designs from. They still dont make a single chip themselves."

You don't seem to understand this basic terminology enough to even discuss this. A5 is an SoC (or now a family of SoCs) which means System on a Chip. You can think of it like a PC with the motherboard and processor functionality all on one die. Exynos 4xxx is a family of SoCs as well. They share the same ARM cortex A9 CPU technology as TI OMAP4 and others I listed. There are some options and various circuitry in the CPU core that can differ. While not a strict definition, a "chip" usually refer to a packaged die, which in this case the die is the SoC which includes the CPU, GPU, VPU, USB controller, memory controller, media controller, buses, PHYs (I/O), other analog. Because all these parts use ARM IP for the CPU, all these other parts of the system are the major differentiators between the various ARM SoCs.

So do the A5 and Exynos4410 have the same or very similar CPUs? Since they are both based on the Cortext A9, one could say that, yes, along with OMAP4 and many others. Are they the same SoC/chip? Not even close. You've already mentioned the GPU differences. You can imagine all the other differences as well.

posted on 28 Mar 2012, 12:16

17. zothen (Posts: 12; Member since: 26 Mar 2012)


""They are made by samsung. The only thing apple did was buy the company that samsung got the original designs from. They still dont make a single chip themselves. They get every last one of them from Samsung. Which is why any Apple A4/A5/A5x production counts for samsung, not Apple."

The cpu (not SoC) work Intrinsity did was for used by both Apple and Samsung. Google Intrinsity to find out more about the details of this actual work. If Apple bought them, this is now part of Apple and they own this design. So you could say the Samsung cpus are actually using technology from Apple.

"Thats also not true about ARM manufacturing. Samsung, Ti, Nvidia, and Qualcomm all have their own chip foundaries."

I already said Samsung was one of the few with their own foundries. I challenge you to send link to any site that states TI and Nvidia produce their OMAP and Tegras in their own foundries. Then search for OMAP or Tegra or Snapdragon and TSMC...

"...With the exeption of Qualcomm, they all use modified ARM archetecture. Qualcomm makes their own designs.. which is why its pretty much always junk. Cheap.. mass produced.. very radio compatible.. but performance wise, they are behind."

No, Qualcomm starts with an ARM IP also but they have an architectural license which allows them to make major modifications to the design. One of the bigger reasons why their recent parts don't perform as well in MIPS/MHz is that they are based on Coretex-A8 technology which they modified for multicore and other changes whereas their competitors used Cortex-A9 for multicore ARM. The next Snapdragon will use A15 based technology with Qualcomm's custom modifications allowed by their architectural license versus others who will use the straight A15 license and options it allows.

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