Chip analyst Gus Richard, who works at securities firm Piper Jaffray, Intel has been knocked into an underdog role by Apple.
Reported by Cnet, Richard said that it no longer mattered about Moore’s Law but rather how the “blocks” of circuits are put together and the “nexus” with the software that runs on those circuits.
Tablets and smartphones using silicon system-on-a-chip tech, don’t need the latest and greatest chip manufacturing technology but just need to get the job done, he said.
Richard claims that the economics of technology has shifted. In the SoC era, system performance and development costs are not dominated by cost per gate but rather by design and software.
He said that while there is nothing leading edge about Apple’s A5 processor, the performance of an iPad is perceived by users as better than a PC. This is because the product has a longer battery life, instant on, and a fast internet connection.
Hang on, just pause that. It has nothing to do with the product, it is based on users’ perception of the product. So a large steaming dog poo is going to be superior to a PC if users think it is? Last I looked my PC didn’t need any battery life and its internet connection is just as fast a tablet but because I think that a tablet is better it is… QED.
Richard goes on to say that the A5 processor is not faster than an Intel processor but instead has a large number of IP blocks that execute different functions with lower power and typically more quickly than a general purpose CPU from ntel.
This is fair enough. Intel chips are not as successful at low power or for mobile work. But that has not given Apple a lead in the market. The mobile market is still developing and in comparison to the PC/Server market it is just a drop in the bucket. If perception is everything, then Richard might be right. There have been shedloads of stories which claim that mobile is replacing the PC, which could create that perception. However it does not make it so.
Richard claims that Apple’s software is written to work with one set of hardware resources, wrote Richard, streamlining development compared to Windows “that needs to run on an infinite combination of hardware resources.”
That is faulty logic. Because Windows can run on an infinite combination of hardware resources it means it can be shoved into any situation. Apple software can only be deployed in a limited range of eco-systems. The theory of evolution suggests that any life which can adapt to a wider range of challenges will succeed much better than those niche evolutionary loops.
Richard admits that while Intel’s manufacturing is in the lead, but claims that Intel has not yet demonstrated that it can design its way out of a PC. A general purpose processor can not compete with a purpose-built SoC with dedicated IP blocks like the A5. Intel’s manufacturing process is not optimised for SoC integration therefore it will lose, he said.
Hang on. Apple does not even manufacture chips, where as Intel is going to built SoC for mainstream laptops in in 2013. Chipzilla is also spending a fortune developing graphics and media-accelerating silicon. Meanwhile Apple is having problems getting its suppliers to behave. It is currently suing Samsung and while it is trying to shift to TSMC that will take some time.
If Intel is really the also ran to Apple then why are its chips in all Jobs’ Mob gear? Why can’t it produce anything that is remotely able to sit in a laptop.
For Richard’s future to be valid, all computers would have to move to systems-on-a-chip which is not going to happen for a very long time. Of course unless Richard believes it to be so, and thanks to Apple marketing, perception is everything.