Intel Corp. (INTC:US), the world’s largest semiconductor maker, unveiled chips and technology designed to help it benefit from the shift to smartphones and tablets, away from personal computers.
Executives introduced an Atom processor targeting low-cost smartphone manufacturers and power-sipping Core series chips for tablets and laptops at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company also outlined a product that offers the ability to view video on multiple screens in homes.
Intel is stepping up efforts to help it compete in the mobile market as investors bet that Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM:US) is better placed to capture growth. The San Diego-based company last year surpassed Intel for the first time to become the largest chipmaker by market value. While Qualcomm increased sales (QCOM:US) 28 percent in its last fiscal year, Intel is estimated to have suffered its first annual decline (INTC:US) in three years.
“You haven’t seen Intel or Qualcomm trade market share yet, but you’ve definitely seen the mobile area encroach on traditional PCs,” said Patrick Wang, a New York-based analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR:US)
Intel also outlined plans to introduce a so-called quad- core version of its tablet chip lineup, code-named Bay Trail, which will be available in devices for the end-of-year holiday shopping season. The chip will feature four processors built into one piece of silicon, according to Vice President Mike Bell.
In addition, Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, has developed phone reference designs based on its new Lexington chip for areas of the world where consumers are buying their first smartphone. Acer Inc. (2353) will be one of the first customers for the device, Bell said.
“We’ve built this device targeted at emerging markets,” Bell said. “This segment is one of the fastest-growing segments in the smartphone market.”
Intel’s Haswell design for larger computers and tablets is the first one created from scratch for so-called Ultrabook laptops, which are thin machines that can run all day on a small battery without being plugged in.
The new design will draw as little as 7 watts, allowing customers to build machines that double as tablets and laptops, said Intel Vice President Kirk Skaugen. The devices will be able to run as long as 13 hours before recharging, he said.
Intel also talked about what it calls “perceptual computing” and demonstrated devices capable of understanding voice commands and more readily recognizing gestures. Such functions are part of a push by the company to make personal computers attractive to consumers again after 2012, when PC shipments fell for the first time in more than a decade, according to IHS iSuppli.
Among the plans for hardware are devices that will do things like recognize when a TV viewer has left the couch and automatically pause a show, according to Daniel Berenbaum, an analyst at MKM Partners LLC. Features that are of practical value may make PCs popular among consumers again and drive demand for powerful chips needed to run them, he said.
“It’s symptomatic of this frustration they’ve expressed with the pace of innovation in the PC industry,” Berenbaum said.
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