Despite tough economic times the world over, the processor market grew by 10.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, driven in large part by continued demand for Intel's Atom processor. That being the case, one would think we'd see more Atom-based mobile Internet devices (MIDs) or ultramobile PCs (UMPCs) show up in the market place, so why aren't we?
That's the question news site Arstechnica set out to answer, and what they discovered was pretty interesting. After failing to find many Atom-based MIDs or UMPCs for sale on the web, Arstechnica took a jaunt over to Intel's online list of MID/UMPC products intended to showcase what the company's technology can do, only to discover an outdated page. Everything listed is based on Intel's old McCaslin platform and out of production, which would seem to indicate that MIDs and UMPCs aren't a high enough priority for Intel to even bother updating its page.
"MIDs are very much alive and well, still are very central to our strategy in the mobile handheld space," said Shane Wall, VP of Intel's Mobility Group. "And we have a roadmap that certainly goes beyond 2012."
Walls went on to describe the MID sector as a work-in-progress, saying "it's what we had hoped it would be at this point. And in terms of volume it's above what our internal targets are." If only the retail channel agreed.
The rich get richer, so the saying goes, and it applies to Intel's x86 CPU business. Already the No.1 CPU maker in the world, Intel's x86 processor market share rose to 80.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009, up from 78.2 percent in the first quarter.
According to market research firm Mercury Research, Intel's recent market share growth is attributable to the chip maker's aggressive desktop CPU price cuts, as well as increased inventory alleviating continued shortages in certain segments.
Meanwhile, competitor AMD saw its shares drop from 20.9 percent in the first quarter to 18.7 percent in the second, a trend the No. 2 chip maker can't be happy about. It was almost a year ago that AMD announced a split into separate design and manufacturing firms.
VIA's market share remained relatively unchanged, claiming just under 1 percent for the second consecutive quarter.
Intel has appeared reluctant to talk about its Core i5 processors ever since the new series was discovered last March by a motherboard spec sheet, and the chip maker still isn't saying much. No matter, as the new parts have started showing up on at least two computer hardware e-tailer sites, offering up some insight on what to expect.
According to FadFusion, the Core i5 570 processor will run at 2.66GHz and include 8MB of cache. The vendor lists a retail price of $250, but plans to sell it for $233.
Computer Connection, a campus computer store at the University of Maine, is also carrying the Core i5 570 CPU with the same listed specs and at a similar price point ($244).
Intel isn't commenting on the existence of the chip, but if the two above vendors are any indication, Core i5 will likely appear soon, with the 570 part priced in the $250 range.
Intel and GridRepublic joined forces this week to launch a Facebook application that will tap into your PCs spare processing cycles to both fight diseases and study climate change.
Intel calls the application 'Progress Thru Processors,' which is built on the Facebook platform and gives users the ability to choose up to three distributed computing projects, including Rosetta@home (find cures for diseases), Climateprediction.net (aimed at gaining an increased understanding of global climate change), and Africa@home (currently focused on finding optimal strategies to combat malaria).
"By simply running an application on your computer, which uses very little incremental resources, you can expand computing resources to researchers," Deborah Conrad, Intel vice president and general manager of corporate marketing, said in a statement.
The application, which was launched Monday as a public beta, will only fire up when the PC has processing cycles to spare. You can download the app here.
Thanks to swirling rumors suggesting that Intel is in the process of killing off its Atom Z CPUs early in favor of focusing on their new Pine Trail platform, Intel has come out to debunk any heresy, stating that they have no such plans.
“Rumors of 'industry sources' stating that Intel is no longer taking Atom Z processors orders for netbooks, or any other products, or ending production by end of year are 100% inaccurate,” stated an Intel spokesperson, regarding the matter.
It should be noted though, that once Pine Trail is introduced the Atom Zs will be eventually phased out. Intel still plans on a later part of this year to do so.
Getting bored with Core i7 already? That's okay, because word on the web is that Intel plans to release its six-core Gulftown processor sometime in the first half of 2010, and possibly by Q1.
What's believed to be the first product shots of the six-core part have been leaked to the web. Likely to be called Core i9, the pictures show off the new chips in a dual-socket motherboard that's either an existing Xeon-based socket LGA1366 mobo or a next-gen Skulltrail platform. Either way, that's 12 cores of processing power, and 24 cores with hyperthreading enabled.
According the alleged screen grabs, the engineering sample spied in the photos comes clocked at 2.4GHz courtesy of a 133MHz bus speed and 18X multiplier, along with 12MB of L3 cache.
Citing un-named "industry sources," news and rumor site DigiTimes says Intel has informed customers that it is no longer accepting orders for its Atom Z processors for use in netbooks, as the chip maker looks to clear out remaining inventory. But more than just an inventory dump, Intel apparently is looking to better distinguish between CPUs targeting netbooks and those aimed at the Mobile Internet Device (MID) market.
Intel is expected to completely cut off supply to netbook makers by the end of 2009, but sources say it will still fulfill orders already placed by Acer, Asus, and MSI, all three of which have been players in the netbook market since early on. There's no mention of Sony and its Atom Z-powered Vaio P, which has been rumored to be getting a refresh in October anyway.
Moving forward, Intel will begin focusing on its next generation netbook (Pine Trail) and MID (Moorestown) platforms, which are slated for a 2009 release.
Not all rumors turn out to be true, and according to Intel, recent reports suggesting the chip maker was delaying its next-generation "Pine Trail" Atom until next year are completely false.
"Pine Trail is on schedule," Mooly Eden, general manager of the Mobile Platforms Group at Intel, said at the Intel Technology Summit on Wednesday in San Francisco. "We are going to ship revenue shipments in the second half of the year. You come to IDF (slated for September) and see the maturity of the product."
Pine Trail will consist of an integrated graphics processor built into the same slice of silicon as the main processor, which will also share space with the memory controller. This will shrink the number of chips in the Atom platform from three to only two, which is expected to result in a cheaper platform with a lower power draw.
According to recent reports, it’s not expected that neither Asus or Acer will launch any more netbooks during the second half of 2009, thanks to Intel’s push to launch their new Pine Trail-M platform.
Asus is still planning to go forward with their touchscreen Eee PC T91 and T101, as well as an Android-based netbook during the second half of this year. Acer, on the other hand, doesn’t look to be doing a whole lot until Intel makes their big release.
Pine Trail-M is slated for the first quarter of 2010, so the delay shouldn’t be too long.
According to Jon Peddie Research, a firm that specializes in tracking the graphics market, AMD is on the up and up when it comes to graphics card shipments, beating out both Intel and Nvidia.
According to their latest report, many graphics vendors stopped ordering new cards and made sure that their inventories were depleted for the first quarter of this year. But, during that same first quarter, improvement was shown for the sales of Intel, Nvidia and most notably, AMD, who had a growth of 41.5 percent.
It’s expected that Q3 of this year is gearing up to be a very healthy one, thanks to Apple’s Snow Leopard, Windows 7, as well as AMD and Nvidia’s 40nm designs, which should bring better performance and aggressive prices.