Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Front In The Mobile War Brewing: Intel Versus Nvidia

Intel doesn't like Nvidia and Nvidia's CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, doesn't care for Intel and has gone out of his way to be dismissive of Intel by framing the current mobile chip battle between itself and Qualcomm.  I disagree.  Nvidia knows very well that it's Intel it has to worry about.

In fact, Intel is already showing that it will not go quietly into the night and give Nvidia, Qualcomm, or anyone else the smartphone and tablet chip markets.

First, Nvidia's Tegra 2 is the sole chip that powers Google's Android tablets.  There is one or two other chips out there but their presence in the market is more like rounding errors.  It's Tegra 2 first and foremost.  However it's not to say that Android tablets are lighting up the tablet market at all.

Nvidia's chip roadmap was leaked and it showed just where it wants to go and it also sees its chips powerful everything from Android to Windows Phone and Windows 8. It doesn't matter to Nvidia what OS is being used as long as its using its chip to power it.

So, everyone is now turning their attention to Windows 8. And this is one battle that Intel will be fight hard over. Intel will be showing off tablets running Windows 8 that run on its own mobile chips at both the Intel Developer Forum and Microsoft's Build conference.  The devices include tablets as well as ultrabooks.

Intel is saying to OEMs that they've got the chips that phone, tablet, and PC makers will need to compete with Apple and Google's mobile platforms if they chose to go with Windows.  Intel will be running these chips on its low power Atom chips.  In the past, Atom chips powered much of the netbooks until that segment of the PC market collapsed under the weight of the iPad.

Still, I would not count out Intel given the financial and engineering powers it has.  Remember that AMD has a huge lead with dual-core chips before Intel fought back with the Core Duo chips.  Furthermore, there is a lot riding on this.  Intel is facing slower growth in the PC market due to the iPad effect and it needs something to break into the market.  Since it has no presence in the Android market and it shelved its mobile OS, Meego, last week, Windows 8 is its only option to get into the tablet market.

And Apple isn't likely to support Nvidia's Tegra 2 or Intel's Atom chips in the near future since its own A-series chips have proven to be quite powerful and power-efficient, both Intel and Nvidia are left to fight out for the rest of the tablet market.

And this war between the two will be brutal.  And ultimately, we mobile warriors will be the beneficiaries.  However, my suggestion to Nvidia is to look at where AMD is today and not be so readily to discount Intel.

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