Intel rides chip-making strength to push other components

May 27th, 2009 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

By Himank Sharma
New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Intel Corp intends to ride the fame of its computer chips to push its less-known graphics processor and a memory controller later this year when it launches its latest low-cost processor Pine Trail.

In a move clearly aimed at taking competition head-on, Intel will club its graphics processor and memory controller - the two critical components of a computer that it is not renowned for - into a single unit for netbooks and nettops.

Netbook and nettops, at which the new central processing units (CPUs) are aimed, are low-cost limited functionality devices designed for Internet browsing, emailing and word processing as against the high-end graphics processing, gaming and multiple functionality computers.

Intel dominates the global market for CPUs, also known as the ‘brain’ of a computer. It, however, has formidable competitors in the graphical processor sphere - especially in the high-end segment.

“The integrated architecture enables power saving, cost advantage, improved performance and significant area saving for small form factor devices,” Sujan Kamran, Intel’s regional marketing manager for the Asia Pacific region, told IANS on phone from Singapore.

“It will be launched in the second half of this year,” Kamran said.

The category, which has been in the in the market for some time now, has jumped up the popularity charts in the past two years.

According to The Information Network, a leading semi-conductor, computer and telecom consultancy, an estimated 11.4 million netbooks were sold in 2008, up from 400,000 in 2007. The market is expected to grow 189 percent to 21.5 million in 2009.

Intel commanded over 80 percent of the global netbook processor market share in 2008.

Ironically, increasing netbook sales have cannibalised Intel’s more profitable notebook market and eaten into its revenues. As The Information Network says, if it were not for netbooks, users would have had to purchase notebooks.

Acknowledging that the percentage of cannibalisation was open to debate, the firm said 50 percent of netbook purchasers in 2008 and 2009 would have bought notebook if the new category had not caught the fancy of consumers.

In other words, 5.7 million less notebooks were sold in 2008 on account of cannibalisation, the firm calculated, and estimated this to touch 11 million in 2009.

Rival chip maker Nvidia, which specialises in graphics memory, had last year showcased a system platform integrating its graphics card with Intel’s Atom processor. Dubbed the ION, the system was certified by Microsoft earlier this year but is yet to hit the market.

Intel’s latest development with an already integrated graphics chip will not support the ION, which Kamran said “was never validated by Intel”.

Pine Trail, the new low-cost processor that was codenamed Pine View during development, will succeed Intel’s existing Atom processor for low cost nettops and netbooks.

(Himank Sharma can be contacted at himank.sharma@ians.in)

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