Is Intel actually serious about reviving the desktop?

Opinion-ish: Devil’s Canyon and unlocked Pentiums are the start of it

Intel - logoIntel is officially keen on a desktop revival spearheaded by a new unlocked Pentium CPU but are they actually serious about it? SemiAccurate’s conversations with some key partners answered that one nicely with two data points.

The story is a tried and true one at Intel, every time there is something that enthusiasts like to do with CPUs, Intel sees it as a threat to something else they make. This then leads to killing the feature in short order with some very tenuous excuses used to justify the death. Then amid howls of protest a new version emerges that brings back a pale shadow of that feature. For a price. An unfairly high price. And removes other key features too for no apparent reason.

Why the stupidity? Intel is afraid of internal cannibalization and those who are theoretically being cannibalized tend to hold more executive sway than those pointing out the negatives of such moronic moves. As far back as the author can remember the idiots have always won and lets face it, Intel’s CPUs are so dull they are almost pointless. The morons won comprehensively but it is a Pyrrhic victory.

This isn’t to say they aren’t fast, they are without peer in CPU performance and no one else is close. The problem is that Intel has hamstrung the enthusiast so many times in the past few generations that they have mostly given up on their hobby. Greener pastures awaited them, none of which contained Intel hardware. In short Intel purposefully killed off the mainstream enthusiasts leaving only a scant few, by Intel numbers anyway, hardcore enthusiasts. While some of the author’s compatriots disagree on this subject, other than a niche I feel the sector is irretrievably dead and gone.

Intel on the other hand has now realized how much money they are losing with desktops cratering and mostly being replaced by non-Intel CPU’d devices. This is bad so they have to somehow reverse that trend and reverse it soon. One thing that both SemiAccurate and Intel agree on is that the company is indeed saying the right things even if their actions are laughable. By that we mean the Devil’s Canyon and an unlocked Pentium.

Yes a de-lidded CPU and a painfully crippled but now unlocked chip are the answer to the better part of a decade spent crushing the joy from an entire segment. Both are unlocked and only one is crippled to the point of uselessness, the other is just partially crippled for no apparent reason. These actions are real but does the rhetoric match the long-term plans at Intel? That is the millions of dollars question and that is exactly what we asked various key players in the industry about.

Note: The following is analysis for professional and student level subscribers.

Disclosures: Charlie Demerjian and Stone Arch Networking Services, Inc. have no consulting relationships, investment relationships, or hold any investment positions with any of the companies mentioned in this report.


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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