Warning: A Crouching Tiger Is Set to Attack

Piyush is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

It seems like the war between semiconductor manufacturers is never ending. PC sales have been declining, which has made it essential for companies like Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and AMD (NYSE: AMD) to innovate and branch out. This year both AMD and Intel launched their Trinity APUs and Ivybridge processors, respectively. Trinity APUs offers integrated graphics performance at par with mid-range GPUs. Intel’s revolutionary 22nm manufacturing process, showcased in its Ivybridge line-up further boosted its performance/clock, with up to 50% ramp up in graphical performance. According to scores of benchmarks, it’s clear that AMDs Trinity loses out to Ivybridge CPUs in terms of raw processing power, but offers higher graphical performance. However in this battle, there were a few casualties: mid-range GPUs from AMD and NVidia (NASDAQ: NVDA).

However, despite having better integrated graphics, AMD has failed to attract consumers, as its targeted consumers are cost and performance conscious. Even the highest Trinity APU offerings can’t compete with Intel’s most basic i3, and consumers feel left out on processing power. It is due to this reason that 2012 has been a good year for Intel.

Additionally I believe that Intel’s technological advantage will continue in 2013, as the company is due to release its Haswell range of CPUs mid-year. According to recent announcements, Haswell series CPUs will deliver up to twice the graphical performance as compared to its Ivybridge series. This would give Intel a serious advantage over AMDs iGFX, and would further cause problems for NVidia. 3-4 years ago, dedicated graphics were required to support the most basic PC operations, but with integrated graphics getting more power, only gaming enthusiasts would feel the need for dedicated graphic cards.

To further bolster its growth, Intel also released its Medfield processors, to compete with Qualcomm’s  (NASDAQ: QCOM) Snapdragon and NVidia’s Tegra 3 offerings. Though its mature rivals beat Intel’s processors in terms of performance, Medfield somehow manages to win the “performance per $” battle. Additionally, Intel plans to launch its Merrifield range of processors in 2013, to succeed Medfield processors. Merrifield processors would enjoy Intel’s revolutionary 22nm manufacturing process with trigate technology, and going by the success of Ivybridge series, significant ramp ups in graphical and processing capabilities can be safely expected. A new entrant in mobile processor market would further strain NVidia’s market share.

However it’s the Broadwell range that seems to be interesting. Several reports have popped up recently indicating that the Broadwell range would be Intel’s first line of non-replaceable CPUs. According to tech reports, Broadwell would have locked features, and users will have the option to unlock them with a software patch by paying extra. This would ease out the upgradability procedure and also generate better margins for Intel. Additionally Broadwell is expected to boast a 14nm manufacturing process which would be 36% thinner than current Ivybridge series and 50% thinner than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 series. If Intel decides to port the 14nm manufacturing process in its range of mobile processors, it would get a serious performance advantage over Qualcomm’s upcoming “Prime” and NVidia’s upcoming “Tegra 4” processors.

No doubt that the mobile chip market competition is heating up, and according to Intel’s roadmap, the company seems to be well on track to take on the competition. Intel has been the king of desktop/laptop processors, and it would be unwise to think that this beast would remain overshadowed by its peers for long.


PiyushArora has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Qualcomm. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Intel and NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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