Tag Archive | "chips"

Intel to steer its center of gravity into low-power microprocessors (exclusive)

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Sean Maloney, Intel’s newly appointed president of Intel China, plans to deliver a keynote speech at the Computex trade show in Taiwan next week where he will unveil a heavy-duty effort to steer Intel into the production of low-power microprocessors.

Maloney is expected to say that Intel will accelerate its efforts to make chips that are more appropriate for tablet computers, smartphones, laptops, and low-power desktops. Intel has been doing that for some time. But Maloney, a well-respected executive who recovered from a stroke that kept him sidelined last year, is expected to push that even farther, according to a source familiar with the matter.

This shift within Intel is similar to the shift that occurred when it launched its Centrino laptop processors in 2003 — which Intel referred to as a right-hand turn. This is another right-hand turn, since the current roadmap isn’t as ambitious when it comes to low power consumption.

Most of Intel’s mainstream desktop chips target power consumption of about 40 watts or so. That allows for very fast microprocessor performance, but such a chip generates enough heat that it can’t be so easily used in a laptop and has no chance of making it into a tablet or smartphone. Now, Intel plans to target mainstream chips that consume about 15 watts.

That’s a big difference, but it doesn’t mean Intel will cancel a bunch of chips in development. Rather, the company will modify the roadmap over the next couple of years so that the center of its efforts focuses on 15 watt or lower wattage chips.

The company has already been moving in this direction for a number of years. Intel recently announced a new manufacturing innovation dubbed Tri-Gate transistors that will allow it to use lower power and smaller circuits in its 22 nanometer microprocessors. (Intel’s current Sandy Bridge chips use 32-nanometer manufacturing; the smaller the number, the faster, lower power, and lower cost.)  At its recent annual investor meeting, Intel showed a working 22-nanometer microprocessor code-named Ivy Bridge that is one of the flagship chips for this new low-power strategy. The Tri-Gate transistors take advantage of three dimensions and allow for a 50 percent power reduction at a given level of performance with only a 2 to 3 percent increase in costs. Ivy Bridge will be followed by a chip code-named Haswell that will represent the fruition of Intel’s efforts to reduce the average wattage of its mainstream chips.

Intel is also accelerating development of its lowest-power Atom microprocessors, which are targeted at smartphones, tablets and ultrathin laptops. The Atom chips have been shipping for a number of years, but Intel will turn up the treadmill now. It will shift from 45 nanometer Atom chips this year to 32 nanometer chips and then 22-nanometer chips in 2012. With every manufacturing shift, Intel can make its chips cheaper, faster, smaller and lower power. That pace of innovation is faster than the pace of Moore’s Law (observed in 1965 by Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore), which says the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years.

Intel is also designing a brand new Atom single-chip computer architecture, code-named Silvermont, from the ground up. Those chips are also going to be designed for low power, and the cadence for introducing new chips will become increasingly faster. The 22-nanometer Silvermont chips are expected to be introduced around 2013.

“Intel will completely focus a huge percentage of consumer microprocessors toward mainstream, low-power, ultra-thin, no-compromise computers,” said the source. “The center point of the roadmap will be all about ultra-mobility.”

By the end of 2012, a large percentage of consumer laptops will be in the ultrathin category — think MacBook Air laptops that cost a lot less than they do today and have a lot more performance and all-day battery life. That’s the kind of machine that will use the chips that Intel is placing at the center of its efforts.

Asia is a good place to make the announcement since China is expected to be the largest PC market in the world starting next year. Maloney’s assignment to that region is significant. Maloney was considered the heir apparent to Intel chief executive Paul Otellini. But a stroke threw him off that path. He returned to work in January and is regaining control of his motor skills.

Intel’s Atom processors are beginning to appear in tablet computers and about 10 of them will be shown off at the Computex show in Taiwan.

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Intel to steer its center of gravity into low-power microprocessors (exclusive)

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Sean Maloney, Intel’s newly appointed president of Intel China, plans to deliver a keynote speech at the Computex trade show in Taiwan next week where he will unveil a heavy-duty effort to steer Intel into the production of low-power microprocessors.

Maloney is expected to say that Intel will accelerate its efforts to make chips that are more appropriate for tablet computers, smartphones, laptops, and low-power desktops. Intel has been doing that for some time. But Maloney, a well-respected executive who recovered from a stroke that kept him sidelined last year, is expected to push that even farther, according to a source familiar with the matter.

This shift within Intel is similar to the shift that occurred when it launched its Centrino laptop processors in 2003 — which Intel referred to as a right-hand turn. This is another right-hand turn, since the current roadmap isn’t as ambitious when it comes to low power consumption.

Most of Intel’s mainstream desktop chips target power consumption of about 40 watts or so. That allows for very fast microprocessor performance, but such a chip generates enough heat that it can’t be so easily used in a laptop and has no chance of making it into a tablet or smartphone. Now, Intel plans to target mainstream chips that consume about 15 watts.

That’s a big difference, but it doesn’t mean Intel will cancel a bunch of chips in development. Rather, the company will modify the roadmap over the next couple of years so that the center of its efforts focuses on 15 watt or lower wattage chips.

The company has already been moving in this direction for a number of years. Intel recently announced a new manufacturing innovation dubbed Tri-Gate transistors that will allow it to use lower power and smaller circuits in its 22 nanometer microprocessors. (Intel’s current Sandy Bridge chips use 32-nanometer manufacturing; the smaller the number, the faster, lower power, and lower cost.)  At its recent annual investor meeting, Intel showed a working 22-nanometer microprocessor code-named Ivy Bridge that is one of the flagship chips for this new low-power strategy. The Tri-Gate transistors take advantage of three dimensions and allow for a 50 percent power reduction at a given level of performance with only a 2 to 3 percent increase in costs. Ivy Bridge will be followed by a chip code-named Haswell that will represent the fruition of Intel’s efforts to reduce the average wattage of its mainstream chips.

Intel is also accelerating development of its lowest-power Atom microprocessors, which are targeted at smartphones, tablets and ultrathin laptops. The Atom chips have been shipping for a number of years, but Intel will turn up the treadmill now. It will shift from 45 nanometer Atom chips this year to 32 nanometer chips and then 22-nanometer chips in 2012. With every manufacturing shift, Intel can make its chips cheaper, faster, smaller and lower power. That pace of innovation is faster than the pace of Moore’s Law (observed in 1965 by Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore), which says the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years.

Intel is also designing a brand new Atom single-chip computer architecture, code-named Silvermont, from the ground up. Those chips are also going to be designed for low power, and the cadence for introducing new chips will become increasingly faster. The 22-nanometer Silvermont chips are expected to be introduced around 2013.

“Intel will completely focus a huge percentage of consumer microprocessors toward mainstream, low-power, ultra-thin, no-compromise computers,” said the source. “The center point of the roadmap will be all about ultra-mobility.”

By the end of 2012, a large percentage of consumer laptops will be in the ultrathin category — think MacBook Air laptops that cost a lot less than they do today and have a lot more performance and all-day battery life. That’s the kind of machine that will use the chips that Intel is placing at the center of its efforts.

Asia is a good place to make the announcement since China is expected to be the largest PC market in the world starting next year. Maloney’s assignment to that region is significant. Maloney was considered the heir apparent to Intel chief executive Paul Otellini. But a stroke threw him off that path. He returned to work in January and is regaining control of his motor skills.

Intel’s Atom processors are beginning to appear in tablet computers and about 10 of them will be shown off at the Computex show in Taiwan.

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Intel to steer its center of gravity into low-power microprocessors (exclusive)

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Sean Maloney, Intel’s newly appointed president of Intel China, plans to deliver a keynote speech at the Computex trade show in Taiwan next week where he will unveil a heavy-duty effort to steer Intel into the production of low-power microprocessors.

Maloney is expected to say that Intel will accelerate its efforts to make chips that are more appropriate for tablet computers, smartphones, laptops, and low-power desktops. Intel has been doing that for some time. But Maloney, a well-respected executive who recovered from a stroke that kept him sidelined last year, is expected to push that even farther, according to a source familiar with the matter.

This shift within Intel is similar to the shift that occurred when it launched its Centrino laptop processors in 2003 — which Intel referred to as a right-hand turn. This is another right-hand turn, since the current roadmap isn’t as ambitious when it comes to low power consumption.

Most of Intel’s mainstream desktop chips target power consumption of about 40 watts or so. That allows for very fast microprocessor performance, but such a chip generates enough heat that it can’t be so easily used in a laptop and has no chance of making it into a tablet or smartphone. Now, Intel plans to target mainstream chips that consume about 15 watts.

That’s a big difference, but it doesn’t mean Intel will cancel a bunch of chips in development. Rather, the company will modify the roadmap over the next couple of years so that the center of its efforts focuses on 15 watt or lower wattage chips.

The company has already been moving in this direction for a number of years. Intel recently announced a new manufacturing innovation dubbed Tri-Gate transistors that will allow it to use lower power and smaller circuits in its 22 nanometer microprocessors. (Intel’s current Sandy Bridge chips use 32-nanometer manufacturing; the smaller the number, the faster, lower power, and lower cost.)  At its recent annual investor meeting, Intel showed a working 22-nanometer microprocessor code-named Ivy Bridge that is one of the flagship chips for this new low-power strategy. The Tri-Gate transistors take advantage of three dimensions and allow for a 50 percent power reduction at a given level of performance with only a 2 to 3 percent increase in costs. Ivy Bridge will be followed by a chip code-named Haswell that will represent the fruition of Intel’s efforts to reduce the average wattage of its mainstream chips.

Intel is also accelerating development of its lowest-power Atom microprocessors, which are targeted at smartphones, tablets and ultrathin laptops. The Atom chips have been shipping for a number of years, but Intel will turn up the treadmill now. It will shift from 45 nanometer Atom chips this year to 32 nanometer chips and then 22-nanometer chips in 2012. With every manufacturing shift, Intel can make its chips cheaper, faster, smaller and lower power. That pace of innovation is faster than the pace of Moore’s Law (observed in 1965 by Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore), which says the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years.

Intel is also designing a brand new Atom single-chip computer architecture, code-named Silvermont, from the ground up. Those chips are also going to be designed for low power, and the cadence for introducing new chips will become increasingly faster. The 22-nanometer Silvermont chips are expected to be introduced around 2013.

“Intel will completely focus a huge percentage of consumer microprocessors toward mainstream, low-power, ultra-thin, no-compromise computers,” said the source. “The center point of the roadmap will be all about ultra-mobility.”

By the end of 2012, a large percentage of consumer laptops will be in the ultrathin category — think MacBook Air laptops that cost a lot less than they do today and have a lot more performance and all-day battery life. That’s the kind of machine that will use the chips that Intel is placing at the center of its efforts.

Asia is a good place to make the announcement since China is expected to be the largest PC market in the world starting next year. Maloney’s assignment to that region is significant. Maloney was considered the heir apparent to Intel chief executive Paul Otellini. But a stroke threw him off that path. He returned to work in January and is regaining control of his motor skills.

Intel’s Atom processors are beginning to appear in tablet computers and about 10 of them will be shown off at the Computex show in Taiwan.

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Nvidia beats forecasts for graphics chip sales

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Nvidia, the largest stand-alone maker of graphics chips, beat earnings estimates for its first fiscal quarter ended May 1, thanks to stronger PC graphics chip  sales and the beginning of revenues from its Tegra mobile chip business.

It is starting to look like Nvidia is doing a good job balancing its investment in two markets: PCs and mobile devices. If it can do this, it will be able to adapt from one era of computing to another, a trick that few companies can say they have done.

The company reported a net profit of $135.2 million, or 22 cents a share, down about 2 percent from $137.6 million, or 23 cents a share a year ago. Revenue was $962 million, down 4 percent from $1 billion a year ago due to pricing pressure in the PC market. Analysts expected revenue of $947.8 million.

Adjusted income was 27 cents a share. Analysts were expecting Nvidia to report earnings of 19 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters. Shares of Nvidia rose a few percent after closing at $20.50 a share, up 3 percent in trading on Thursday.

“Our core GPU businesses are solid, with expanding revenues and margins. And this quarter, our Tegra
mobile business took off,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia.

Tegra and Tegra 2 chips are used in the latest smartphones and tablet computers. Those mobile chips represent Nvidia’s big effort to stay on the leading edge of graphics and to diversify away from PC graphics chip sales. Nvidia earlier this week bought Icera, a maker of baseband wireless communications processors. Huang said that deal means that Nvidia now makes the two most important chips in mobile devices.

Nvidia’s consumer product business generated $122 million in the quarter, up 78 percent from a year ago. That business includes sales of Tegra chips as well as products for embedded devices. Nvidia said that notebook graphics chips sales took off, particularly as many computer makers used Nvidia’s chips alongside Intel’s Sandy Bridge microprocessors (which combine graphics and processors in a single chip).

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Nvidia: Icera Deal Brings Them Closer To QCOM; Trouble For TI?

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Response is trickling in to Nvidia’s (NVDA) announcement this morning it will purchase baseband chip maker Icera for $367 million in cash in order to boost its mobile semiconductor offerings.

Linley Gwennap with The Linley Group writes this afternoon that Icera’s programmable baseband, the “DXP,” can be a quarter of the size of chips offered by Qualcomm (QCOM) and others, because programmable firmware can replace the separate modem blocks that those other chips require for each wireless protocol — EDGE, Wideband CDMA, HSPA, and LTE, among others.

“In the near term, both companies should benefit by cross-selling their products to largely non-overlapping customer bases,” writes Gwennap. “For the longer term, the acquisition gives Nvidia an opportunity to expand the market for “Tegra” [Nvidia's application processor] by developing single-chip products that combine the application and baseband processors.”

Gwennap observes that over half the smartphones shipped last year included an integrated app and baseband processor, and, “this percentage will exceed 70% by 2015.” Tablet computers, too, are destined to ship with integrated cellular going forward, he thinks.

It should be “straightforward” for Nvidia to merge the chips on a single semiconductor, as they both are made in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing’s (TSM) 40-nanometer process, he observes. Such an integrated system-on-chip might appear in phones in the first half of 2013.

(I would note that, as I mentioned earlier, Icera’s baseband is oriented toward data, not voice applications, though Nvidia clearly intends to extend the Icera parts to voice.)

Jim McGregor of In-Stat writes that Texas Instruments (TXN) could have problems: it’s winding down its baseband operation and has dependend on Icera for some chips. Like Gwennap, McGregor believes an integrated baseband offering will be important for design wins in future tablet devices.

Romit Shah, with Nomura, who has a Neutral rating on Nvidia, thinks the deal is a positive for the company in that it expands the addressable market. He notes Qualcomm currently has almost 50% of the integrated baseband chip market.

He also, however, thinks Nvidia now needs to buy WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS chip expertise in order to “compete effectively with Qualcomm.”

“Furthermore, we believe that this announcement highlights a hole in TI’s argument that there is a sizable opportunity for standalone app processors,” writes Shah.

Nvidia shares are up 31 cents, or 1.6%, at $19.62.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Nvidia acquires Icera mobile wireless chip maker for $367M

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Updated with internal memo:

Moving deeper into  mobile chips, Nvidia said it has agreed to buy mobile wireless chip design firm Icera for $367 million.

Icera specializes in making baseband processors for 3G and 4G cellular phones, and it has more than 550 patents. The deal will put Nvidia in a better position in a $15 billion market to compete against Qualcomm and integrate Icera’s technology into Nvidia’s own solution for tablets and smartphones.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia already makes its Tegra family of mobile gadget application processors. The Icera technology enables Nvidia to advance further into making baseband processors, or the actual radio chips in cell phones. By offering both major chips in a cell phone, Nvidia now has a chance to double its revenue opportunity within each device, the company said.

‪“This is a key step in Nvidia’s plans to be a major player in the mobile computing revolution,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia, in a statement. “Adding Icera’s technology to Tegra gives us an outstanding platform to support the industry’s best phones and tablets.

Lynley Gwennap, an analyst at the Lynley Group, said that Icera can design chips that are about a quarter of the size of competing chips from Qualcomm. If true, that could give Icera a big advantage in both manufacturing cost and power consumption compared to the rival. Gwennap estimates that the purchase price was about four times Icera’s 2010 revenue, which means its revenue last year was about $91.7 million or so. In the near term, he said that the companies could sell their chips separately. But in the long term, the could combine the chips into a single chip.That will enable Nvidia to reach a broader market.

Icera was founded in 2002 and is based in Bristol, England. It has more than 300 employees in seven countries, and its senior executives have backgrounds in microprocessor design and cellular communication. Icera’s chips are used in wireless modems and have been approved for use by 50 carriers around the world. The company makes next-generation, multi-protocol wireless processors with radio components. A single chip can offer everything from 2G to 4G service and can be custom configured. Stan Boland is the company’s chief executive.

The deal is expected to close in 30 days, subject to customary closing conditions. The transaction will be slightly dilutive to Nvidia’s earnings through the first half of calendar 2012.

Here’s the internal memo that Huang sent today:

Hi everyone,

We announced just moments ago our acquisition of a really cool company called Icera.

Icera is a pioneer in next-generation wireless modem technologies called SDR (software-defined radios).  They have created an ultra-low power, high-performance processor specially designed for processing multiple modem protocols.  And because it does not suffer from many years of patched-up circuitry, as modem protocols evolved, Icera’s baseband processor is super elegant and much smaller. In a way, Icera’s DXP (deep execution processor, a flexible processor designed to execute communications algorithms at extremely low power) is the moral equivalent of the programmable shader processors in our GPUs which, as you know, have revolutionized the graphics industry.  Icera’s technology is protected by 550 patents that have been granted or applied for, and its modems have been certified by 50 networks across the globe.Stan Boland, Steve Allpress, and Simon Knowles founded the company in 2002.  With their reputation and talent, they were able to secure nearly $260M in funding from some of the finest VCs.  This level of funding was necessary to execute the audacious plan to create a new processor architecture that offers a unfied data and voice solution for 2G/3G/4G.  Icera today has 300 employees, headquartered in Bristol, UK, with offices in Cambridge; Sophia Antipolis, France; Texas; as well as Korea, Taiwan, and China.   They’re a lot like us – entrepreneurial, engineering-focused with great people and great technology.

Our immediate plans are to accelerate Icera’s entry into voice modems, followed by introduction of 4G/LTE modem.  Together, we will offer the two most important processors that make up a modern mobile computer.  Not only is this combination strategically powerful in the market, it will also drive growth for both Tegra processors and Icera modems.  Icera will leverage Tegra’s momentum and deep customer engagements globally.  We estimate the modem market TAM to be approximately $15 billion.

I’m thrilled to welcome the Icera team to NVIDIA. They’ll fit right in.

Join me in welcoming our new colleagues.  Let’s go drive the mobile computing revolution and create the future together.

Jensen

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PCs aren’t dead yet, as Intel blows past earnings estimates

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Intel said that its net income for the first quarter was $3.3 billion, up 34 percent from $2.4 billion a year ago. Revenue was $12.9 billion, up 25 percent.

The record results show that a full-blown tech recovery is in high gear despite worries about the state of various regional economies. And it also shows that smartphones and tablets — two markets where Intel doesn’t have huge business — aren’t taking away sales in the core PC market.

Intel is the world’s biggest chip maker and its results are a bellwether for the PC market and the tech economy as a whole.

Earnings per share were 59 cents, compared with 43 cents a share a year earlier. Analysts had expected 46 cents a share on revenue of $11.6 billion.

“The first-quarter revenue was an all-time record for Intel fueled by double digit annual revenue growth in every major product segment and across all geographies,” Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said in a statement. “These outstanding results, combined with our guidance for the second quarter, position us to achieve greater than 20 percent annual revenue growth.”

Intel credited the strength of enterprise server and PC sales for the big improvement. Data center chip revenue was up 32 percent compared to a year ago, while PC client division revenue was up 17 percent. Intel Atom revenue was up 4 percent. Average prices for microprocessors, which are the brains of personal computers, were up compared to the previous quarter.

For the second quarter, Intel projects revenue to be flat at $12.8 billion, plus or minus $500 million. It is also targeting a gross profit margin of 61 percent. For the full year, Intel expects to spend $10.2 billion on capital spending, such as new chip factories. Uncertainties include the situation in post-quake Japan, where a market slowdown could have an effect on Intel’s business.

Intel got a boost of $496 million in revenue during the quarter from its acquisitions of Infineon Wireless and McAfee. Both deals closed during the quarter. Interestingly, even though Intel spent more than $7.6 billion in cash on McAfee, the company still has $11.5 billion in cash after today’s report. That’s what you call a cash-generation machine. Intel also benefited from an extra week in the first quarter, compared to the usual 13 weeks. Intel’s goal is to grow earnings by double digit percentages this year.

Intel’s stock price rose 5 percent in after-hours trading. Intel now has 93,500 employees, compared with 79,900 a year ago.

While the consumer markets were slow in Europe and the U.S. in the first quarter, the enterprise strength and the growth of consumer markets in emerging regions made up for that. Emering markets such as China and Brazil now have more than 2 billion consumers who could buy a PC at a cost of one or two months of income.

Intel also had its best launch ever with the debut of its Sandy Bridge chip, which combined a microprocessor and graphics in the same chip. There was a flaw in the Cougar Point chip set that accompanied Sandy Bridge, but Intel said it recovered from that flaw more quickly than it anticipated.

[picture credit: world2do]

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PCs aren’t dead yet — Intel blows past earnings estimates

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Intel said its net income for the first quarter was $3.3 billion, up 34 percent from $2.4 billion a year ago. Revenue was $12.9 billion, up 25 percent.

The record results show that a full-blown tech recovery is in high gear despite worries about the state of various regional economies. They also show that smartphones and tablets — two markets in which Intel doesn’t have huge business — aren’t taking away sales from the core PC market.

Intel is the world’s biggest chip maker and its results are a bellwether for the PC market and the tech economy as a whole.

Earnings per share were 59 cents, compared with 43 cents a share a year earlier. Analysts had expected 46 cents a share on revenue of $11.6 billion.

“The first-quarter revenue was an all-time record for Intel fueled by double digit annual revenue growth in every major product segment and across all geographies,” Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said in a statement. “These outstanding results, combined with our guidance for the second quarter, position us to achieve greater than 20 percent annual revenue growth.”

Intel credited the strength of enterprise server and PC sales for the big improvement. Data center chip revenue was up 32 percent compared to a year ago, while PC client division revenue was up 17 percent. Intel Atom revenue was up 4 percent. Average prices for microprocessors, which are the brains of personal computers, were up compared to the previous quarter.

For the second quarter, Intel projects revenue to be flat at $12.8 billion, plus or minus $500 million. It is also targeting a gross profit margin of 61 percent. For the full year, Intel expects to spend $10.2 billion on capital spending, such as new chip factories. Uncertainties include the situation in post-quake Japan, where a market slowdown could have an effect on Intel’s business.

Intel got a boost of $496 million in revenue during the quarter from its acquisitions of Infineon Wireless and McAfee. Both deals closed during the quarter. Interestingly, even though Intel spent more than $7.6 billion in cash on McAfee, the company still has $11.5 billion in cash after today’s report. That’s what you call a cash-generation machine. Intel also benefited from an extra week in the first quarter, compared to the usual 13 weeks. Intel’s goal is to grow earnings by double digit percentages this year.

Intel’s stock price rose 5 percent in after-hours trading. Intel now has 93,500 employees, compared with 79,900 a year ago.

While the consumer markets were slow in Europe and the U.S. in the first quarter, the enterprise strength and the growth of consumer markets in emerging regions made up for that. Emerging markets such as China and Brazil now have more than 2 billion consumers who could buy a PC at a cost of one or two months of income.

Intel also had its best launch ever with the debut of its Sandy Bridge chip, which combined a microprocessor and graphics in the same chip. There was a flaw in the Cougar Point chip set that accompanied Sandy Bridge, but Intel said it recovered from that flaw more quickly than it anticipated.

[picture credit: world2do]

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Marseille Networks raises $4.5M for fast chip protoyping

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Marseille Networks, a startup that makes it easier to design chip prototypes, said today it has raised $4.5 million in a second round of funding.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is relatively rare as a chip company that successfully raised venture capital money. Chip startups are rare these days because it usually takes a lot of money to create a new chip and bring it to market. But Marseille is offering a way to bring down chip costs significantly.

Marseille is making its own line of consumer electronics chips. But it has also created the Virtual Silicon platform, which can be used by other chip companies or system companies to design their own chips. The platform lets engineers design chips in software and test features in real-time prior to fabricating the first chip. That allows for early collaboration with customers.

The company will use the money to kick off production of its own first line of consumer electronics chips — the VTV-1200 series of video up-converter chips, which make video images sharper.

The company has moved from development to production of its 65-nanometer chips with less than $12 million in overall investment. The Virtual Silicon platform uses a hybrid of hardware emulation (where one machine pretends to act like another) and software simulation, where a software program simulates the final product. By doing this kind of prototyping rapidly, big companies can work the kinks out of their designs early and get their products to market on time and at lower costs.

The Virtual Silicon platform also allows Marseille to build chips that have been tested and approved by consumer electronics manufacturers. That reduces the overall risks of manufacturing. Amine Chabane, chief executive of Marseille Networks, said the company reduces the risk and cost associated with making new chips.

Marseille was founded in 2005 and has 30 employees. Rivals include Marvell, Silicon Image, and Realtek. But Marseille says the Virtual Silicon technology helps its stand out from rivals. Investors include KMP and Kumpulan Modal Perdana Sdn Bhd.

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Oracle and Intel get into spat over Itanium chip’s future

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Oracle and Intel are in a high-stakes spat over the future of Intel’s Itanium chip. Oracle announced last night that it had stopped all development on Intel’s Itanium, a 64-bit heavy-duty computing microprocessor, because Intel expressed weak support for it. Intel’s chief executive shot back that Intel fully supports Itanium.

In a press statement, Oracle said, “Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life.” That’s a big blow to Intel’s high-end computing investments, since Intel has invested billions of dollars in the program since 1994. At stake is the future direction of the high end of chip technology.

Oracle has its own interests at heart. Oracle now owns Sun Microsystems, a hardware and chip business that is now run by co-president Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. While Oracle used to be a pure software company, now it makes hardware and chips that compete directly with Intel’s Itanium chip.

But the loss of Oracle will hurt Intel, as it isn’t the only one to abandon Itanium. Microsoft and RedHat abandoned making optimized software for Itanium last year. Microsoft said that last year’s Windows Server 2008 R2 was the last operating system to support the Intel 64-bit chip, while RedHat’s final support was Enterprise Linux 6.

HP-UX remains the only big supporter of Itanium, from an operating system view. HP dominates the market for Itanium-based servers. Talking to Cnet, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said five years ago, “There is no more important platform for Oracle than HP and Itanium.”

During his own strategy talk last week, HP CEO Léo Apotheker didn’t say anything about Itanium. But Intel is still promoting its next-generation Itanium chips, as Intel CEO Paul Otellini pointed out today. In February, Intel unveiled its 10th-generation Itanium chip, code-named Poulson, a beast of a chip with 3 billion basic components known as transistors.

“We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture,” Otellini said.

The Itanium has had a long rollercoaster history. Started as a joint venture with HP in 1994, the first chip was a relic of an age when power consumption didn’t matter. It was supposed the debut in 1999, but the code-named Merced chip finally came out in 2001, just in time for the post-9/11 recession. Intel’s primary competition was its own 32-bit Xeon chips, which were faster at running 32-bit software than the 64-bit Itanium was. So the great migration of computing from 32-bit to 64-bit didn’t happen for the masses, as had originally been expected, and Intel added 64-bit technology into its Xeon line-up.

Intel continued to invest, challenging the shrinking number of players in the reduced-instruction set computing (RISC) computing business such as Sun Microsystems and IBM. Intel says that it is still attacking the $15 billion RISC market with Itanium. Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices seized its chance to get a foothold in 32-bit server chips and it has succeeded in grabbing a chunk of that market.

Intel’s new Itanium chip, code-named Poulson, is slated to come out some time in the future, as will another one code-named Kittson. Otellini said those chips are on schedule.

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