Despite still performing well in the consumer space, it is clear that Intel is at something of a crossroad. The chipmaker faces increased competition, is changing its strategy, and has largely failed in mobile. Speaking of mobile, Intel-based x86 chips aren’t quite extinct yet, thanks to the company’s partner Spreadtrum.
The Chinese chip maker is still making x86 smartphone chips based on Intel’s doomed Atom architecture. The processor is named Airmont and will ship this year as an eight-core version of Atom.
The Spreadtrum Airmont SC9861G-IA is designed for mid-range devices, but it is more powerful that Intel’s original Atom processors. Intel is showing off the handsets that are coming later in the year at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2017.
Smartphone manufacturers get 4K video and display support with the SC9861G-IA. The chip has a PowerVR GT7200 graphics core.
Intel is also considering re-entering the mobile space. Aicha Evans, senior vice president and general manager of the Communications and Devices Group at Intel, discussed potential plans at MWC 2017. The company wants to help connected devices, including smartphones, with integrated modems.
Evan says the company’s focus is on the Internet of Things (IoT) and that chips will be made on a basis of customer’s demand.
Atom and the Future
Intel decided to discontinue its Atom processors last year. While the company has not closed the brand down entirely, it did cancel the Sofia and Broxton family of chips. There are also no signs of the Atom brand making a comeback. Intel struggled in the smartphone market, with its chips making little progress.
The company is still performing well in overall consumer processors, led by its PC silicon. However, as we reported yesterday, the AMD Ryzen chips launching this week and pose a serious threat to the Core i5 and Core i7 processors.
Intel has recently announced a decision to pass all its new technology to its datacenter business. Until now, the company’s consumer business has been given priority. The datacenter part of the company has grown and is thriving, while the consumer space is in decline as PC sales drop further.