May 4, 2011

Intel Apple Together in Mobile at 22 nm

Intel Apple together in mobile at 22 nm?  Intel’s Tri-Gate 22 nm chips in future iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices? It is not impossible and, it could happen within the next 2 years.

Today’s Intel announcement of its Tri-Gate, 3D transistor is the biggest breakthrough in semiconductor manufacturing in a long time. And, it is not just a technology announcement, the first microprocessor, Ivy Bridge, built at 22 nm with tri-gate transistors will be in production in 2011.

What Intel’s 22 nm tri-gate transistor process will deliver is chips that consume a lot lower power, have better performance and at a lower price. Think of iPad’s, iPhone’s with a lot longer battery life, much better performance and potentially at lower prices. The 22 nm tri-gate process gives Intel a huge lead of 3 - 4 years over the rest of the industry – ARM, TSMC, IBM, Global Foundries etc.

This is what Intel does best – use superior manufacturing to outclass all competitors.

This will also be Intel’s unique advantage in the mobile market where it has been looking for success. The consumer market may shape up like this - Apple has superior consumer design skills, Intel has superior chips, neither is good at what the other does, both need each other to deliver awesome product to the consumers.

How Soon Can This Happen?
Given the long product development cycles for Apple and Intel, about 2 years. So expect to see Intel chips designed into Apple’s mobile lineup (iPad, iPhone and more) in a major way by 2013. And, of course, Intel will get designed into other mobile products in the market as well – Android, BlackBerry, etc.

What May Slow Things Down for Intel?
With their high levels of integration, the mobile products require a lot more of mixed signal design, as opposed to just digital design. Intel is good at the latter, not so good at the former. But regardless, Intel has rosy years ahead of it.