Intel to ARM: Let the best man win

Today Intel held a second keynote headed by the be-hatted niche CPU comedian Mooly Eden which was essentially similar to the  Intel chest-beating for CES for a different crowd. There was a bit of Ivy Bridge and some more on those ultrabooks, followed by an interesting journalist Q&A.

Eden started the keynote by telling us that PCs are most definitely alive and kicking. It could have been a nod, or rather a shaked fist, at the analyst and press reports of tablet cannibalisation. He showed us a slide of “how Intel sees it” – which is PC buying is still in vogue around emerging markets such as Brazil, India, Etc. 

It’s a good thing netbooks are still in vogue because Intel is pinning its hopes on the forthcoming Ultrabook. Not a netbook, not a tablet, it’s both. The word Intel wants in our head is “transformation” – we’ve got to think differently, just as it did when it introduced the MMX, marketing the PC to the wider consumer, and then again with the Centrino. Now we have the Ultrabook.

You can make your own pre-Ultrabook prototype by attaching a Xoom to a Vaio laptop. 

Taipei was told a little about Ivy Bridge. It’ll impress us, says Eden, with its 22nm, better transistor performance and excellent power management. We really think Sandy Bridge was a stepping stone – and Ivy will be another one. Some journalists remarked: what do they have in common?

They’re named after trees. We’re predicting Intel’s Sycamore to turn up some time in 2067. Across the way from the packed keynote room was the secret press hut, where Eden arrived with some of his colleagues to take questions. 

Intel thinks the Ultrabook will have the capabilities of a PC but in a thinner form factor, 7.5 inches. We’re promised it’s going be more secure, just like a full PC  but with a better user experience.

Mooly said it’ll be part consumption, part creation, part confusion. Confusion because for a while, no one’s going to know whether it’s a PC or a tablet.

Another asked if Intel’s attempt at the Ultrabook is “admitting failure” – Intel said no, but admitted it had been late on the mobile market.

Which leads us to us. TechEye wondered how Intel has a snowball’s hope in heck of dominating the mobile chip market over the company which resembles Buster Keaton in its silence and buffoonery, ARM

“I have no intention of dominating the market, and to sell what I love,” Mooly replied. “We delivered a good solution for many years.”

But what does Intel think of ARM’s secret claims it could snatch the notebook market from under Intel’s nose?

“Let’s put it like this,” Eden begins. “In the last 25 years there have been quite a few people who have said they can take major share. Some of them are still trying, some of them are not on the map any more.

“With the technology we have, we will see two things – ARM will try to go up into the notebook space. We will go down to the mobile space. And let the best man win. One thing is for sure. Competition will be healthy for the overall ecosystem. 

“We respect them. If they are not respecting us, I know, they will in the near future. “

We’d hesitate to say the answer seemed prepared, but we reckon Intel’s conisdered the question.

Delivered like true fighting words. TechEye was also wondering if Intel’s commitment to releasing machines with different OSes could damage its relationship with Microsoft as a partner. Earlier today at the Maloney keynote it jokingly blamed Windows for getting a fictional man run over. Here comes Chrome and, yes, MeeGone.

“No, we are not trying to edge out Microsoft,” according to Mooly. “I dunno where you got this impression. What Sean said is that when we are developing our system we do it as a product of choice. 

“We will work close with MS on the next OS. We’ll also work with Chrome, and Meego.

“Eventually everyone will decide what they want to adopt, but we are working closely with our partners.

“Microsoft is a great partner.”