Intel CEO Paul Otellini today spelled out how his company will compete with the burgeoning ARM chip ecosystem, which has taken the lead in tablet designs, during the chipmaker's fourth-quarter earnings conference call.
In the call, Otellini was quick to address tablets, a market currently centered on Apple's iPad, which runs on Apple's flavor of the ARM processor design. Motorola, RIM, and Samsung have also based their tablet products on power-efficient ARM processors. He discussed a few ways Intel could ultimately prevail in the tablet and smartphone markets.
Operating system three-fer: "In 2011, you will also see Atom in a wide array of tablets running three different operating systems: Windows, Android, and MeeGo," he said. When asked by an analyst how the Android development partners can differentiate between Atom and the ARM-based tablets, Otellini said, "By designing an Atom-based tablet, they have the opportunity to run multiple OSes on it, which I think is a unique value proposition with Intel."
Manufacturing: Intel's biggest advantage going forward is its manufacturing prowess, according to Otellini. "As we have done for decades in the traditional computing markets, we will apply the world's most advanced silicon transistor technology to these new segments to deliver the lowest power, highest performance, lowest-cost products on the planet," he said.
Embedded: Atom's success in embedded devices (such as medical and in-car devices) will spill over into tablets and smartphones. "Atom is much more than notebooks. We exit 2010 with excellent momentum in our embedded business with over 4,900 total design engagements and over 1,700 design wins for embedded Atom devices," Otellini said. "I mention this momentum to highlight that the main drivers of our success with Atom in the embedded business are very applicable to the smartphone, tablet, and consumer electronics segments. Software compatibility, performance, power, and architectural consistency really matter to our customers. Many of the wins in this space are architectural conversions against ARM and MIPS [processors]," he said.
Intel will also indirectly benefit from the surge in device like tablets and smartphones because its processors power most of the world's servers, which, in turn, are the engines for cloud computing, he said.
"In 2010, total traffic crossing the Internet was 245 exabytes. This is greater than all of the previous years combined. Over the next five years, over a billion more people will join the global online community with 15 billion new connected devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, embedded devices, and smart TVs. We estimate this will increase the data footprint across the internet to over 1,000 exabytes," he said.
Otellini continued. "This dynamic will require high-performing servers from Intel for years to come. And it's not just servers. Intel continues to grow its presence in the data center with processors for storage systems and networking infrastructure. With plans to refresh the entire Xeon server product line in the first half of 2011, Intel is very will positioned to benefit from the growth of the data center and the build out of cloud computing."