Is Intel Crashing and Burning? Q4 Expectations Fell 20%; Well Below Previous Guidance

I love Intel as a company and have been using their products for all of my digital life, but I have to say that I noticed a big change in the company over the past few years – it’s got this sinking feeling. Now Erik Savitz is reporting that Q4 Earnings are not great and below guidance (translation Intel missed their numbers). 2008 has been a bad year for business all around and Intel is no exception.

Intel has been slowly laying off employees and cutting back on almost all expenses especially marketing. We’ll see how much impact Intel has at CES. It would be a shame if Intel continues to sputter because it certainly will leave a crack in the door for AMD and others to get back into the leadership position.

I miss the old Intel. Maybe Andy Grove can come back and give a pep talk to management.

Google and Intel – Weaving the Web Of Relationships

Interesting article on Intel. This brings up some interesting data points. The relationship between these companies is compelling.  The Intel CEO sits on the board of Google and the CEO of Google sits on the board of Apple.

Within five years, they estimate that Google will purchase one-third of all microprocessors

Google already exerts significant monopoly power in the market, since when they construct a new standard build, the chips have to come either exclusively from AMD or Intel. AMD’s last few profitable quarters a couple years back can be traced to their holding of the Google contract.

The best business development has always been with the CEO.

Apple and Adobe Roll With Nvidia and AMD – Not Intel

Apple is the bellweather for standards in User Interface and graphics. That is why this is a sad story for Intel. Apple has voted to go with Nvidia over Intel for their graphics according to Fortune magazine. – the comments section of the Fortune article are worth reviewing – very entertaining.

This is a blow to Intel and their corporate reputation. Not only for users but to developers. If Intel loses the developer community then they are in trouble. For now the Intel Inside for graphics isn’t there. Specifically the Intel-powered machine failed to display some ceilings and walls in the Iron Man game, and sputtered during complex scenes in the movie; the AMD-powered machine handled both smoothly.

This is really bad news and it came from Adobe when it threw its weight behind Nvida’s point of view not Intel.

Here is a clip from the Fortune article: Really Bad News for Intel

When Apple (AAPL) unveiled new MacBook laptops last week, the specs turned a few heads. Unlike the other mainstream PC makers, Apple has chosen to stop using the standard-issue integrated graphics that come packaged with Intel (INTC) chips, and switch to a new setup from Nvidia, which Apple says can run about five times faster. Apple will continue to source the main laptop processors from Intel, but those Intel processors will now work in tandem with a respectable graphics chip, part of Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M chipset.

Could this endorsement from tech’s hottest company finally put graphics processors on the map? The folks at Nvidia certainly hope so. The day after Apple’s announcement, I caught up with Drew Henry, general manager of Nvidia’s media communications processor business unit, and he was practically gushing.

“I think this is the beginning of the era of visual computing,” he said. “I believe that Oct. 14, 2008 will be remembered as the moment when an inflection point happened.” He said other computer makers have already expressed more interest in the chipss. “You’ll see other designs over the next few weeks and months,” in time for the holiday season, he said, though Apple won the opportunity to release it first.

Apple just weighed in on one of the most intense battles brewing in technology. Nvidia and AMD’s ATI graphics unit have long vied for supremacy in their niche. Patrick Moorhead, AMD vice president of advanced marketing, recently showed me a demo to drive home this point; he displayed two computers, one with AMD graphics and one with Intel’s basic integrated graphics, running the popular Iron Man game and playing “The Simpsons Movie.”

Can AMD and Nvidia keep the business? Time will tell.

Rumors have been swirling for months about how dire it is inside Intel since their layoffs last year. I’ll be certainly be asking around next time I’m down there at Intel. I hope the old Intel vibe can come back – one of bold moves and innovation.

Google Chrome – Google Wants to Say It – Just Say It Sergey- It’s a Modern OS and Where is Intel?

Platform for web apps bla bla bla. A couple of observations on Chrome – It’s good, it’s an OS, and where the hell is Intel. Multi-process?? Hello multicore on the desktop – Hello Intel? Wake up.

I think that Google is being smart by not calling attention to the OS issue. Why? Because the definition of an OS favors Microsoft – and all the legacy baggage with PC centric stuff. Why get into that conversation – just let the technology speak for itself. We need a redefinition of what a modern OS is?

The reality is that this is an operating system for a modern environment – web centric computing. Google is proud and should be. They have been focused on advancing computer science to provide a better users experience rather than fluff marketing. Oh yeah why not make a few more billion in the process.

When I had a moment with Sergey to talk he was excited (except not having a Mac version). Expect a Mac version in short order. Sergey is emailing the team daily he said. Anyway it was interesting yesterday when Sergey outright dismissed the operating system question yesterday by Rob Hof of Businessweek. He then goes on to answer my strategic question about V8. After Rob’s question I asked Sergey the following question:

John F: “so Lars (super guru on V8) said that the three components of the v8 are: Compiler, Linker/Loader, and Memory management.. is that correct.”

Sergey responses “Hmm .. Right on John (nice pickup) yes except I wouldn’t call the 2nd piece a Linker”….

I can see that Sergey was parsing the semantics of the question and certainly didn’t realize that he just admited that this is a modern OS. He right in a traditional sense, but it’s an OS from my seat. It’s not a full blown OS as we know by Microsoft’s definition but certainly it is by computer science and Google’s definition. Linking is the process of combining various pieces of code and data together to form a single executable that can be loaded in memory. Compiler, Linker, Memory Management – V8 OS engine has some compelling features for loading more code to be executed. Very good for developers.

The elephant in the room is that Google is an OS. It’s a good thing. We need a new OS – a modern one. What that will end up meaning is still under development by the top comp sci guys around the world (and they are employed by Google).

To me it’s search, advertising, new software model, communications technology (broadband), and collaboration tools.

One thing that no one picked up yesterday – Where is Intel? Is Intel sleeping at the wheel on this? Google just validated Multi-core. This is relevant to Intel on the desktop. Multiprocess software needs multicore computing power. Where is Intel on this? If Intel was worried that cloud computing will kill their multicore desktop business then that is over. All Intel has to do is keep serving up multicore “crack” to Google engineers and the desktop will be a robust edge client to a ever growing ‘cloud’ and ‘datacenter’.

I think that Google’s advances are important to Intel. The desktop computing paradigm isn’t going away – just the definition of an OS is.

Intel Yahoo Announce Platform for Web TV

Intel and Yahoo announced a partnership (also with Comcast) that they will be providing the embedded technology for set top boxes to provide widget for a TV environment. I’m here at IDF and had a chance to talk to a few Intel super geeks and basically it’s all vapor at the moment. It’s mainly a developer oriented showcase so it’s not meant to be a shipping product. The demo they are showing is very sexy but it’s vapor – at least for now.

The demo really shows the benefit of the user experience. The notion of having prefabricated widgets coming from Yahoo will make for a compelling experience. What’s more interesting is the idea that users or families will be able to create their own widgets. I can see this really working well for parents putting together microcontent widgets for their kids – a kinda set top box playlist concept.

So as of today it’s concept and this offering should attract developers with the open architecture. The Intel guy said that developers can integrate any clients side innovation directly into the stack. This makes sense for emerging areas that need innovation – like video acceleration and other problem areas like managing the storage issues. Today big video content providers have to to store multiple file formats like Flash, Windows, and Silverlight. This is a big problem and generates a ton of costs. At least the CDNs can make more money.

I love this concept with the Intel set top box and think that this is where Yahoo needs to be successful. By pushing out content from their system to the edge the users are happy. Yahoo goes to where the users are instead of today where Yahoo makes the users come to them.

The question in my mind is what is the video user experience like when there are so many problems in delivering video over the Internet (speed, cost, concurrency).

HP Delivers on March Announcement – Nice Job – How Can I Leverage This?

HP speed and execution has often been compared to an aircraft carrier, but not in this case.  HP moves fast with the announcement of the gobal cloud research initiative. Last March I was predicting that HP Labs would move in this direction.  Well they did and fast.

This shows me that HP can move fast on their promises and with some sizzle and steak.  The partnerships of Intel and Yahoo show some real meat on the bone.  I’m not expecting any massive products soon out of this initiative but certainly some innovation.

The test bed will initially consist of six centers of excellence at IDA facilities, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Steinbuch Centre for Computing of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, HP Labs, Intel Research and Yahoo!. Each location will host a cloud computing infrastructure, largely based on HP hardware and Intel processors, and will have 1,000 to 4,000 processor cores capable of supporting the data-intensive research associated with cloud computing. The test bed locations are expected to be fully operational and made accessible to researchers worldwide through a selection process later this year.

The test bed will leverage Yahoo!s technical leadership in open source projects by running Apache Hadoop — an open source, distributed computing project of the Apache Software Foundation — and other open source, distributed computing software such as Pig, the parallel programming language developed by Yahoo! Research.

With this test bed, not only can researchers test applications at Internet scale, they will also have access to the underlying computing systems to advance understanding of how systems software and hardware function in a cloud environment.

Researchers at HP Labs, the central research arm of HP, will use the test bed to conduct advanced research in the areas of intelligent infrastructure and dynamic cloud services.

This has a kind of DARPA feel to it.  I have many questions.  How will it be organized?  What will prevent it from becoming ‘vendorland’ of hidden agendas?  How can I as an entrepreneur use it?  What is the requirement to participate?

Final question:  Where is Google and Microsoft on this?

Not Supporing an OS on a PC? What the Hell is Wrong with Intel

I woke up this morning to the news that Intel is moving backwards. Are we at the end of the Moore’s Law?

Has the Internet Operating System displaced Intel primary asset – the CPU?

Intel not supporting an OS on the PC? Am I reading this right?

Will cloud computing kill Intel core value proposition?

Is the company confused?

What the hell does Intel Inside mean?

To many questions?

On the debate on Vista and Intel falling behind by not supporting it. All bullshit. Fact is Vista Sucks! Everyone knows it. Why should Intel risk dealing with all the support nightmares. They should push back on Microsoft if Microsoft develops a crappy product.

I’ve had many private conversations with Intel people about the state internally. The word is that there are camps divided on what to do. They grew up with CPU focused engineering mindsets. Now the world has changed. Intel was known for think bold and being bold. Andy Grove used to be paranoid but very aggressive.

I am curious to see how Intel goes over the next year.

Memo to Intel: Do Users Know Who You Are? Intel’s New Intel Inside Has To Be HD

I was browsing the web today and found this interview that I did with Sean Maloney at Intel. It got me thinking. Intel needs a new intel inside consumer branding theme. I found it for them. It’s HiDef – HD. Sean Maloney gets it. He’s old school Intel, but he understands what new users are looking for.

In the old days the CPU powered software. Today it’s a entire new paradigm -rich media and broadband. It’s the ‘new software equivalent for processors and subsystems”. The Intel Inside brand is getting stale. Intel Inside clicked for consumers back in the 90s, but I think that Intel is confusing to a new breed of consumers now. The new net users don’t have that historical connection that guys like me have with Intel. Intel needs to connect with those new users while keeping it’s image up with the existing users.

Answer: HiDef – HD. HD touches all consumers both online and offline. Intel needs to own image in the mind of the consumer. I would argue that HD is yet to be owned from brand association perspective by any one vendor. HD is everywhere but yet unbranded.

More importantly HD requires a boatload of processing power and storage (and cloud computing – I won’t get started how cloud computing is threating the PC which should have Intel worried as well). Great processing and system software, Intel’s technology stronghold, enables a great user experience from online to the living room. Intel needs to leverage that in a clear message to consumers.

Companies like nVidia are competing directly with Intel on CPUs. With nVidia dominating the graphics market for years they have a chance to make a run at Intel. Will nVidia and others possibly steal away the Intel franchise?

Here is the interview with Sean Maloney that I did. Sean gets it. He thinks big and Intel needs a new Intel Inside theme. It has to be HD.

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Hey Mac: Look Who’s “Cooler” Now

I love those Mac commercials where the PC guys is not was cool as the Mac guy. Wait take a look at who’s cooler now – pun intended. Dell is announcing the Core 2 Duo on the notebook their first 45 nanometer notebook. This is the first time that Dell has included the 45-nanometer processor as an option in the consumer-oriented Inspiron line.

We are seeing the benefits of smaller faster cheaper chips from Intel. Launched last month, Intel’s 45-nanometer mobile processors generally pack around 400 million transistors. One of the most salient features is the larger cache. The higher-end processors integrate 6MB of cache memory versus 4MB for the older 65-nanometer “Merom” generation, and the lower-end chips integrate 3MB vs. 2MB for the Merom-class processors. A larger cache generally means better performance.

I can’t wait to see quad-core processors hit the desktop and notebooks. Please Intel get them out faster.

Here is a nice video cartoon created as a commercial for Intel – It’s a nice MicroContent Ad – the future ad strategy for all corporations in the next 18 months.

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