What Can Haswell and Silvermont Do for Intel Corporation (INTC)?

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Intel CorporationIntel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) may be lagging behind in its sector, but the chipmaking behemoth is still a force to reckon with. The company has poured its resources in its R&D efforts, and is now on the verge of unveiling its new power-efficient processors. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is looking to replace its Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge range of processors with the new Haswell series.

Market for Haswell

The new chips are generating good buzz. Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) has unveiled its new desktops and laptops featuring Haswell chips. Intel’s unique selling point for the chipset is its energy frugality. With these chips, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) plans to hit ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH) at its core competence. Intel has been a laggard in the emerging tablet and mobile segment; its chips are performance powerhouses, but also big energy guzzlers. This feature does not sit well with ultrabook and tablet makers, since their products need to be energy efficient.

Intel plans to release its new chips during the Computex trade show in June. The company is also tight-lipped about the specifications of its new chips, but has thrown around some tidbits to suggest that Haswell will be able to provide up to 50% more battery life. Ostensibly, Haswell consumes seven watts of energy, in comparison to the 10 watts consumed by Ivy Bridge processors.

Another area Intel plans to tackle with Haswell is gaming. MSI has already introduced a gaming laptop with Haswell chips. Apart from its energy efficiency, the new chip also offers enhanced graphic performance over Ivy Bridge. Its 22nm manufacturing process combines processing and graphics functions on a single chip.

Future Direction with Silvermont

While Haswell boasts energy efficiency, the real trump card held by Intel against mobile chip rival ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH) is its Silvermont-microarchitecture-based chips. Silvermont is the advanced iteration of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s Atom series, chips specially designed for mobile devices. The specifications are indeed impressive, but only time will tell how well the new system fares in the market.

I am a bit skeptical given Intel’s past history of Moorestown and Medfield. While Moorestown, owing to its complex structure and huge set of requirements, never received much support from mobile market, Medfield also failed to breach ARM chips’ dominance in the market. However, both these chips have build the solid framework for upcoming chips from Intel.

Silvermont reportedly consumes only 20% of the power required by current Atom processors. It also packs roughly three times the processing power as its predecessor. But will that be enough to corner a meaningful share in mobile market?

Dominant mobile processor players like Qualcomm rely upon ARM architecture as the foundation for their designs. While these users have to pay royalties to ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH), Intel stands on more solid ground, since it integrates the entire design and manufacturing process — including the actual fabrication of the chips — in its own foundries.

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