While mobile chip makers mocked Intel for not moving faster to provide them with decent competition, there are signs that the industry is a little spooked when it finally showed up.
At his keynote address at CES Qualcomm Chief Executive Officer Paul Jacobs showed off the new Snapdragon 800 and 600 processors which will find their way into phones and tablets by the end of the year.
The claim is that they will perform 75 percent faster, although Qualcomm did not say faster than what. We assume it meant its older chips, but it could mean Intel, or an arthritic tortoise with a heavy load of shopping.
Qualcomm has been doing rather well in the mobile boom. According to iSuppli it is the third largest chipmaker behind Intel and Samsung. But it has 42 percent of the mobile-application processor market, which is where Intel wants to be.
Competition with Intel is rather like bull fighting. It can be rather fun when the bull has not noticed you dancing around and twirling your cape. It is less fun when 128 stone of bovine aggression starts to focus its attention on sweeping you from the ring.
Qualcomm, which licenses ARM technology and designs its own processors, insists that this combo is enough to see off Chipzilla.
The new 800-series chip has four processors, each capable of running as fast as 2.3 gigahertz, the company said. It integrates the latest long term evolution, or LTE, something that no other manufacturer can do.
Executives from Intel yesterday talked of its plans to introduce new lower-power computer and tablet chips. Intel plans to offer a quad-core version of its tablet chip lineup, code-named Bay Trail, for devices to be sold during the end-of-year holiday shopping season.
At the moment investors think that Qualcomm is better placed to capture growth.
Qualcomm shares rose 13 percent last year, while Intel’s declined 15 percent in 2012. But this is not necessarily a good measure. Last year investors thought Facebook was a good bet and few people have become rich by underestimating Intel.