During its 43 years in business, Intel, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based processor maker, has built an international reputation based on making high-quality x86-type processors for uses that generally involve personal computers, enterprise servers, storage arrays and other familiar IT machines.
Now, as the proliferation of various types of other connected devices explodes into all corners of the globe and spreads over all income levels, more chips-and more powerful variations thereof-are going to be needed to carry these ever-increasing data loads and deliver them in a timely fashion. This includes thousands of devices that are not known for being in Intel's marketing sweet spot.
For example, Intel is just beginning to supply chips for tablets and phones-by far the world's fastest-selling IT items. When addressing Intel's investors earlier this year, CEO Paul Otellini said: "There's been so much written about tablets that I don't know where to start, except to say we're on track.
"We're tracking 35 designs on multiple operating systems. Some are shipping now with Windows. We're demonstrating some Android devices now. The tablet race is nowhere near finished. No one really knows the size of this market, but it's real clear that everyone's putting energy into it."
Otellini also said that, thanks to a well-ballyhooed partnership with Nokia that blew up in February 2011, Intel won't be powering smartphones until sometime in 2012. He stated: "We have freed up those [Nokia] resources and turned that design into a form factor/reference design. We're shopping that now to a number of manufacturers ... and we've had good success. You'll see the first Intel-based phones [using new Medfield chips] in the market the first part of next year. ... In hindsight, Nokia was the wrong partner to have picked."