Intel still struggling in smartphones as ARM rivals move forward

Intel makes only incremental smartphone chip improvements, while Nvidia and Qualcomm made power and performance improvements on ARM chips

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

Intel didn't expect overnight success in smartphones, with ARM being the dominant architecture, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

"My sense is that given where they started from and where they are, it's taken them time to make a product that is sufficiently interesting," McCarron said.

Intel may not have made major chip advancements like Nvidia or Qualcomm, but the company's position is better this year with the customer wins and growing software support, McCarron said. Companies including Motorola and Orange also offer Intel Inside smartphones.

But market share will ultimately matter, so the challenge for Intel will be to unseat the dominant ARM architecture and to get people to migrate from ARM smartphones, which is easier said than done, McCarron said. Chips from Nvidia and Qualcomm are in many smartphones today, with performance and power consumption continuously improving.

Intel has promised to develop smartphone chips at a breakneck speed to catch up with ARM. The company this year is expected to release new 22-nanometer Atom chips for budget and high-end smartphones. The latest ARM chips are made using the 28-nanometer process. Intel has also said it would release smartphone chips made using the 14-nanometer process next year, which could give the company power efficiency and speed advantages over its ARM rivals.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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