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Otellini: ARM way is no way to make money

Posted: 19 May 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:processor? intellectual property? IP licensing?

Chip giant Intel Corp. sees no threat to its business from ARM Holdings plc and has no intention in participating in any alternative processor architectures to its own, according to CEO Paul Otellini.

Speaking to an audience of analysts and investors on May 11, Otellini also criticized as inferior to its own a business model that splits the creation of value between multiple players including the IP licensor, the chip designer and a foundry.

When asked about the competitive landscape and the fact that ARM is beginning to enter what has traditionally been Intel's territory in notebook and server computers Otellini said: "All architectures live under the same laws of physics. There's nothing unique about ours or theirs. At the end of the day it is the quality of the architecture and the quality of the implementation of the silicon it goes on. Today we have the most popular architecture in terms of the installed base of cores and the best silicon in the world."

"If you look at Intel margins versus, say, foundry margins, which is what you would get if you are building ARM-based devices or MIPS-based devices, we are substantially higher. So we get paid for our intellectual property and for our silicon. To me, that's a better value proposition," he continued. "It's very difficult to make money in that [IP licensing] environment," he concluded.

During his 45 minute talk to the investors meeting Otellini stressed that Intel was much more than a chip company and was now a computing company that encompasses processors, platforms, software and services.

Otellini said that over its entire history Intel had shipped 3.3 billion processor cores by the end of Q1. By the end of this year that number will be closer to four billion cores, he said. "The architecture, which is the most popular on earth, the one that has 14 million developers writing to it today, is getting more popular every day."

He added: "We're still the only high volume architecture that offers backwards and forwards compatibility generation to generation to preserve that software investment."

Otellini emphasized that the Internet, with 1.8 billion users, is still the driver of its business, dropping the fact that 18.8 trillion minutes were spent on the Internet in 2009, a number that is going up by 21 percent y-on-y. And although the growth of the user base has slowed to 4 percent in the United States in the BRIC countries growth is in the 20s of percent per year. China, which has nearly 400 million users Otellini described as "the mother of all markets."

"It is still the fundamental driver of computing for the foreseeable future," Otellini said.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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