Intel desperately tries to deflect ARM’s march into servers

Analysis: Hamstrung by their own market manipulations again

In the mean time, the world is moving on, and Intel is in serious danger of losing huge chunks of the data center, especially the fast-growing cloud market. Few if any OEMs seem to care though, SemiAccurate’s checks show that most of them are hip-deep in designing ARM boxes that do all the things that Intel won’t allow Atom to. Intel may come groveling back a year late, but several vendors that SemiAccurate chatted with seem to be more interested in allowing ARM to take a foothold as a long term hedge against abusive Intel monopoly pricing.

To make matters worse, the ARM architecture is open and very widely licensed, there are literally hundreds of vendors making ARM chips right now. Intel is notoriously closed, and their meager attempts to license the Atom core were laughed out the door when people saw the terms.

The end result is that you can buy half a dozen ARM chips that will do the things you want, at a much better performance per watt number, and a lower price too. If the exact chip doesn’t exist, you can quite easily take an existing design and add one of hundreds or thousands of hardware based accelerator blocks to it. It isn’t a trick, and there are dozens of design houses that will happily do this for you. You can get what you want, how you want it, and make what you need if it isn’t easily available off the shelf if you go ARM. Intel charges you a premium to get the basic functionality back, if they can provide it at all.

In the end, the PR drum beating from Intel is too little too late, a panicked reaction to a tidal wave of ARM products that they have no response too. They have annoyed customers, and the customers have moved around them. Now Intel has to play a reactionary game vs a competitor that is cheaper, more capable, more nimble, and offers better performance in every category. If a new niche emerges, ARM players will always get there faster than Intel too.

What you are seeing is nothing more than a repeat of the failed strategy for Atom to take the phone market by storm. If you search and replace ‘phone’ with ‘micro-server’ from the early Atom releases, you will see the same pattern playing out. That one failed. This one will fail for the same reasons. If you don’t think so, you might want to count the number of Atom based phones out there, it is currently zero.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate
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