Phy-gital Roundtable: Breakfast Roundup from Germany and Netherlands

02 May '15 | Debjyoti Paul

German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

15 January '15 | Ralf Reich

Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

15 January '15 | Anil Venkat

Modernize or Perish: Property and Casualty Insurers and IT Solutions

14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

Benelux Reaches the Phy-gital Tipping Point: Omnichannel Readiness is Crucial

13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

What does a mobile user want?

03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Crossing Swords – ARMed Intel

Posted on: 23 January '12

Intel announced multi-year pacts with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo to develop smart phones and tablets at ‘CES 2012,’ one of the largest consumer electronics show on earth which concluded a few days back in Las Vegas. These devices are based on its 32-nm Medfield platform and will hit the market in 2012. Motorola is believed to come out with Intel-inside tablets and smart phones in the second half of 2012, while Lenovo might hit the market with its Medfield based K800 smart phones as early as the first half of 2012. The Medfield platform is based on the Atom series of processors and has a top clock frequency of 1.6 GHz with the worst case power consumption of 800-mw.

On the other hand, in November 2011, HP announced a project called Moonshot which aims to develop less power consuming ARM RISC based Servers. HP has started working with a start-up called Calxeda which is supplying the ARM RISC processors targeted towards high-end servers. HP is soon planning to collaborate with other ARM suppliers also to develop servers targeted for less computing intensive applications such as social media.

Both these developments are unique. It has always been believed that Intel is meant for processors and servers. Its X-86 architecture has been used in PCs for ages. Similarly ARM and its partners, who supply processors based on ARM based architecture, are the indisputable leaders in the handheld devices space. These devices require lesser power consumptions and ARM architecture is the most obvious fit. However, both the companies – Intel and ARM aren’t with ruling their own territories and are crossing swords to invade each other. This battle started a couple of years ago and is now in full public view. The result of the battle is not going to be an easy answer. For that, we need to analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of them. Double-SWOT analysis is a proposed way to capture SWOT details of two companies in a single diagram; very often, the strength of a company is the weakness of the other and they are generally listed side by side.

The diagram shown below is a double swot analysis with SWOT details captured for Intel and ARM. The blue color refers to Intel while the orange color refers to ARM.

SWOT analysis

For all accounts, Intel is a behemoth in comparison to ARM and has all the skills, money and muscle to enter the smartphone and tablet market (as it has just announced in CES). However, the battle is not as much as about hardware than it is about software. Firms that have invested in silicon-and-software solutions for ARM processors will not be too willing to give Intel chips a chance. The same holds true for ARM. Server companies have invested in tons and tons of code written for Intel’s x86 architecture based server designs and applications and they need huge incentives to switch to ARM ( Although energy consumption seems to be one of those “huge” incentives!). So the journey for both of them is not easy – Intel into mobile devices and ARM into PC and Servers.

Let us look at other factors that make this battle interesting.

  • Although Intel’s ownership of multiple fabs gives it a distinct advantage in terms of bringing first-pass chips to the market, ARM’s lean and thin structure makes it much more agile.
  • When you use Intel Architecture, you are married to it as you do not have several options to choose from. But as ARM has such a huge ecosystem, if you are not happy with a company A, you can select the processors from company B.
  • There are some blue ocean categories such as “Internet of things” where it is equal opportunity for both of them to win the market share.

Considering all the above factors, it is difficult to put your weight behind either of these companies.

However, if I were asked to make a prediction, I would say that Intel will successfully invade the Smartphone market in the next two or three years. On the other hand, ARM is not going to stay low either. It will gain a substantial amount of market in the “Internet of things” market where even lower power consumption levels are required. Do share your views.