AMD to Make Its Tablet Move
AMD, which has been less aggressive in pursuing the tablet space, reportedly is looking to hire Android driver development engineers as it steps up its efforts in both tablets and smartphones. In the recent past, AMD executives have said they would eventually pursue a tablet strategy, but that there was no hurry. However, that reluctance to enter the mobile device space reportedly was a core disagreement between the board of directors and Dirk Meyer, who resigned as CEO in January. Meyer's resignation came soon after AMD unveiled the first of its Fusion processors, which offers discrete-level graphics and the CPU on the same piece of silicon. AMD officials also have said that the company's "Brazos" APUs (accelerated processing units), aimed at lightweight laptops and netbooks, also can power tablets.By 2015, tablet sales will be in the 200 million range, and Apple-with its own ARM-based chips-will have a market share of 35 to 45 percent. That will leave more than 100 million units primarily running Android-with some Windows-based devices and others from RIM running QNX-and given Intel's manufacturing prowess and aggressive road map, it could grab 20 to 30 percent of the market over the next three to four years, Gold said. It will take longer for Intel to gain ground in the smartphone market-Gold said it will be another one or two generations of Atom before it can compete with ARM-designed chips. But, he said, Intel will compete. "ARM's competition with Intel is not intense yet, but will become so in 2012," Gold wrote. "That's when Intel has competitive silicon for phones to supplement its chips for tablets available this year. Intel has the manufacturing clout to make Atom chip prices attractive and potentially buy market share. We believe the marketplace, which has often been skeptical of Atom's chance of success, is discounting Intel much too heavily at this point, given that the battle is just now getting under way and there are no clear long-term winners for next-generation technology needs."
According to analyst Jack Gold, ARM should continue to hold a commanding position in the mobile device space for the rest of the year, but he expects Intel will begin gaining traction starting next year, as it ramps up its Atom innovation and moves quickly from 45 nanometers to 32 and then 22. In a research note April 14, Gold said he expects that by the time it hits 32 and 22 nanometers, Atom will match ARM chips in energy efficiency and, he noted, Intel not only will increase the core count, but will include other hardware-based features around such areas as security, disaster recovery and syncing.