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

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

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