In a recent interview with Forbes, Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated that the group of companies that manufacture ARM-based mobile processors are beginning to create a dent in Intel’s impressive global CPU market share lead. Granted, as smartphone sales have recently surpassed PC sales, this is obviously something Intel should watch out for in the future. But when it comes to numbers, Intel still accounts for more than 80% of PC and server processors sold in 2011. I wouldn’t call that a dent.
The entire interview seems more like a marketing jab, especially considering the fact that Intel is about to release their own smartphone processor (codenamed Medfield). On this note, Huang went on to claim that Intel is so far behind in the mobile SoC game that their factories should focus instead on manufacturing ARM-based chips for companies such as Nvidia (of course), Qualcomm, Apple, and Texas Instruments. It’s much like telling Pepsi that they should give up their battle with Coca-Cola and start making Fanta and Sprite instead.
As it turns out, Intel spokesmen were polite in their statements regarding the matter. I would have personally went for a “go shove it up…”, but the Intel representative was more eager to point that Intel’s semiconductor technology is so advanced, there is no way they would give that advantage up to produce another company’s products: “Our process technology is a huge advantage going forward in 2012 and 2013, so our focus at this time is on building Intel products, not on building products for our competitors”, said the spokesman referring to Intel’s latest 22nm manufacturing technology.
A few years ago, many speculated that a clash between Intel and ARM was inevitable, with both companies aiming to expand into the markets controlled by the other. Fast forward to present day, and it seems Intel was faster to expand (probably mostly due to their vast resources) to the smartphone processor market, than ARM was to provide a solution for personal computers.
While there still are concerns regarding its power-consumption, preliminary benchmark results showed that the Intel Medfield might be a lot faster than Nvidia’s Tegra 3 CPU. Recent reports also claim that the Medfield chip might make its way into the entry-level smartphone market, so there is a chance the Medfield will be a cheaper alternative for OEMs.
The major difference between Intel and other companies that make processors rests in the closed circuit of the Santa Clara company: Intel designs, Intel implements, and Intel manufactures the processors, while Nvidia, Qualcomm and the rest of the bunch use ARM designs for their processors, in turn manufactured by silicon companies such as TSMC and Globalfoundries.
If you’re into more Intel trash talk from Nvidia’s CEO, you can read the Forbes article here, but let me assure you that everything Jen-Hsun Huang says needs to be ingested with the proverbial grain of salt.