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Cortex-A53 is used alone in higher and higher-end devices as the result of increased competition between MediaTek and Qualcomm
We’ve learned a lot during the last one a half years about the superiority of the Cortex-A53 cores for the mass produced SoCs. Some major points about that you see on the right:
My prediction back in Dec 23, 2013 was that The Cortex-A53 as the Cortex-A7 replacement core is succeeding as a sweet-spot IP for various 64-bit high-volume market SoCs to be delivered from H2 CY14 on. Such a prediction is a reality now as no less than 291 smartphones are listed as of today in PDAdb.net, which are using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 quad-core SoC based on Cortex-A53. The first such device, the Lenovo A805e Dual SIM TD-LTE was released in July, 2014.
Meanwhile Qualcomm’s downstream rival, MediaTek is moving up fast with its offerings as well. There are 8 devices based on quadcore MT6732M since Dec’14, 27 devices which based on quad-core MT6732 since Nov’14, and even 6 devices based on octa-core MT6753 since Jan’15. Note however that there are 3 such products from the Chinese brand Meizu, and one each from another local brands, Elephone and Cherry Mobile. Only the ZTE model is from a 1st tier global vendor yet.
My prediction was also proven by the fact that interest in that post was the highest on this blog as soon as the respective new SoCs, and commercial devices based on them arrived:
Now even higher end, octa-core smartphones based on Cortex-A53 alone are coming to the market from 1st tier device vendors
June 1, 2015: Asus ZenFone Selfie (ZD551KL)
(launched on the ASUS Zensation Press Event at Computex 2015)
from the product site:
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615. With its superb performance and superior power-efficiency you’ll shoot sharp photographs at stupefying speed, record and edit Full HD (1080p) video with minimal battery draw, and enjoy using the integrated 4G/LTE to share everything you do at incredible speeds of up to 150Mbit/s!
expected price in India: ₹12,999 ($205)
(Re: “coming in an incredible price” said in the launch video about the earlier ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML) which has the same price, but a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z3560 processor, only 5 MP secondary camera etc.)
from the ASUS Presents Zensation at Computex 2015 press release:
ZenFone Selfie is a unique smartphone designed to capture the best possible selfies, quickly and simply. Featuring front and rear 13MP PixelMaster cameras with dual-color, dual LED Real Tone flash, ZenFone Selfie captures beautiful, natural-looking selfies in gloriously high resolution. The rear camera features a large f/2.0 aperture lens and laser auto-focus technology to ensure near-instant focusing for clear, sharp pictures — even in low-light conditions where traditional cameras struggle.
ZenFone Selfie includes the brilliant ZenUI Beautification mode for live digital cosmetics. A few taps is all that’s needed to soften facial features, slim cheeks, and enhance skin tone to add vibrancy, and all in real time — injecting instant verve into any composition. ZenFone Selfie also has Selfie Panorama mode, which exploits ZenFone Selfie’s f/2.2-aperture front lens and 88-degree field of view to capture panoramic selfies of up to 140 degrees. With Selfie Panorama mode enabled, selfies become a party with all friends included — plus the ability to capture panoramic scenery for stunning backdrops.
ZenFone Selfie has a large 5.5-inch screen that fits in a body that’s a similar size to that of most 5-inch smartphones, for a maximized viewing experience in a compact body that fits comfortably in the hand. It has a high-resolution 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display with a wide 178-degree viewing angle and staggering 403ppi pixel density that renders every image in eye-delighting detail. ASUS TruVivid technology brings color to life in brilliant clarity, making selfies and other photos look their best. Tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 covers the display to help protect against scratches and drops.
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor for the perfect balance of multimedia performance and battery efficiency — the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615. This extraordinarily powerful chip equips ZenFone Selfie to provide the very best multimedia and entertainment experiences, carefully balancing high performance with superior power-efficiency.
June 19, 2015 by SamMobile: Samsung’s first smartphones with front-facing LED flash, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7, now official
Samsung has announced its first smartphones with a front-facing LED flash; the Galaxy J5 and the Galaxy J7. Specifications of these devices were previously leaked through TENAA, and their UI was revealed through Samsung’s own manuals. Now, they have been officially announced in China, where they would be available starting this week, but there’s no clarity about their international launch.
All the mid-range and high-end smartphones from the company released recently have started featuring high-resolution front-facing cameras, and the same is the case with the Galaxy J7 and the Galaxy J5. To complement their 5-megapixel wide-engle front-facing cameras, they are equipped with a front-facing single-LED flash. Other features include a 13-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/1.9, 1.5GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, dual-SIM card slot, and LTE connectivity. Both these smartphones run Android 5.1 Lollipop with a new UI that is similar to that of the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge.
The Galaxy J7 is equipped with a 5.5-inch HD display, a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, a 3,000 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,798 CNY (~ $289). The Galaxy J5 features a slightly smaller 5-inch HD display, a 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, a 2,600 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,398 CNY (~ $225). Both of them will be available in China in three colors; gold, white, and black.
The Galaxy J5 and J7 are targeted at the youth and compete with devices like the HTC Desire EYE, Sony Xperia C4, and the Asus ZenFone Selfie, all of which have high-resolution front-facing cameras with an LED flash.
The selfie phenomenon is about to kick up a notch with the introduction of Xperia™ C4 and Xperia C4 Dual – Sony’s next generation PROselfie smartphones, featuring a best in class 5MP front camera, a Full HD display and superior performance.
“Following the success of Xperia C3, we are proud to introduce Sony’s evolved PROselfie smartphone,” said Tony McNulty, Vice-President, Value Category Business Management at Sony Mobile Communications. “Xperia C4 caters to consumers that want a smartphone that not only takes great photos, but also packs a punch. Benefiting from Sony’s camera expertise, the 5MP front-facing camera with wide-angle lens lets you capture perfect selfies, while its quality display and performance features provide an all-round advanced smartphone experience.”
We all like a high-profile selfie – so go ahead and get snapping:
You can now stage the perfect selfie, getting everything – and everyone – in shot, thanks to the powerful 5MP front camera with 25mm wide-angle lens. Sony’s Exmor RTM for mobile sensor, soft LED flash and HDR features means the pictures will always be stunning, even in those ‘hard to perfect’ low light conditions. Superior auto automatically optimises settings to give you the best possible picture and SteadyShot™ technology compensates for any camera shake.
With 13MP, autofocus and HDR packed in there is no compromise on the rear camera, which delivers great shots for those rare moments you’re not in the picture.
You will also be able to get even more fun out of your smartphone with a suite of creative camera apps such as Style portrait with styles including ‘vampire’ and ‘mystery’ to add a unique edge to your selfie. Moreover, apps such as AR maskgive your selfie a twist by letting you place a different face over your own face or others’ faces while you snap a selfie.
Experience your entertainment in Full HD
Now you can enjoy every picture and every video in detail with Xperia C4’s 5.5” Full HD display. Watching movies on your smartphone is more enjoyable thanks to Sony’s TV technology – such as Mobile BRAVIA® Engine 2 and super vivid-mode – which offers amazing clarity and colour brightness. Enjoy viewing from any angle with IPS technology.
Great video deserves great audio to match, so Xperia C4 features Sony’s audio expertise to deliver crisp and clear audio quality. With or without headphones, you can sit back and enjoy your favourite entertainment in all its glory.
The design of Xperia C4 has also been crafted with precise detail and care to ensure every aspect amplifies the sharp and vivid display. A minimal frame around the scratch-resistant screen enhances both the viewing experience and the smartphone design, while its lightweight build feels comfortable in the hand. Xperia C4 comes in a choice of white, black and a vibrant mint.
Superior performance, with a power-packed battery that just keeps going
Whether you’re running multiple apps, checking Facebook, snapping selfies or listening to the best music – you can do it all at lighting speed thanks to Xperia C4’s impressive Octa-core processor. Powered by an efficient 64-bit Octa-core processor [Mediatek MT6752], Xperia C4 makes it easier than ever to multitask and switch between your favourite apps, without affecting performance. Ultra-fast connectivity with 4G capabilities means it’s quicker than ever to download your favourite audio or video content and surf the web without lag.
The large battery (2,600mAh) provides over eight hours of video viewing time, meaning that the entire first season of Breaking Bad can be binged uninterrupted, while Battery STAMINA Mode 5.0 ensures you have complete control over how your battery is used.
Xperia C4 is compatible with more than 195 Sony NFC-enabled devices including SmartBand Talk (SWR30) and Stereo Bluetooth® Headset (SBH60). You can also customise the smartphone with the protective desk-stand SCR38 Cover or with a full range of original Made for Xperia covers.
Xperia C4 will be available in Single SIM and Dual SIM in select markets from the beginning of June 2015.
For the full product specifications, please visit: http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-c4/specifications/
June 1, 2015: The stakes have been raised even higher by a higher-end octa-core SoC from MediaTek with 2GHz cores which is also 30% more energy efficient because of the first time use of 28HPC+ technology of TSMC
MediaTek Expands its Flagship MediaTek Helio™ Processor Family with the P Series, Offering Premium Performance for Super Slim Designs
P-series the first to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which reduces processor power consumption
MediaTek, a leader in power-efficient, System-on-Chip (SoC) mobile device technology solutions, today announces the launch of the MediaTek Helio™ P10, a high-performance, high-value SoC focused on the growing demand for slim form-factor smart phones that provide premium, flagship features. The Helio P10 showcases a 2 GHz, True Octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU and a 700MHz, Dual-core 64-bit Mali-T860 GPU. The Helio P10 will be available Q3 2015 and is expected to be in consumer products in late 2015.
The P10 is the first chip in the new Helio P family, a series which aims to integrate into a high-value chipset, premium features such as high-performance modem technology; the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine for ultra-sensitive RWWB; and, MiraVision™ 2.0, for top-tier display experiences. The features available in the P series include several of MediaTek’s premier technologies, such as WorldMode LTE Cat-6, supporting 2×20 carrier aggregation with 300/50Mbps data speed; MediaTek’s advanced task scheduling algorithm, CorePilot®, which optimizes the P10’s heterogeneous computing architecture by sending workloads to the most suitable computing device – CPU, GPU, or both; and, MediaTek’s Visual Processing Application – Non-contact Heart Rate Monitoring, which uses only a smartphone’s video camera to take a heart rate reading and is as accurate as pulse oximeters/portable ECG monitoring devices.
“The P series will provide OEM smartphone makers with greater design flexibility to meet consumer demands for slim form-factors, which provide dynamic multimedia experiences,” said Jeffrey Ju, Senior Vice President of MediaTek. “The P10 enables state-of-the-art mobile computing and multimedia features all while balancing performance and battery life.”
The Helio P10 is the first product to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which allows for reduced processor power consumption. With the help of the latest 28HPC+ process and numerous architecture and circuit design optimizations, the Helio P10 can save up to 30% more power (depending of usage scenarios), compared to existing smartphone SoCs manufactured using the 28 HPC process.
“We are pleased to see MediaTek’s achievement in producing the world’s leading 28HPC+ smartphone chip,” said Dr. BJ Woo, Vice President, Business Development, TSMC. “As an enhanced version of TSMC’s 28HPC process, 28HPC+ promises 15% better speed at fixed power or 50% leakage reduction at the same speed over 28HPC. Through our competitive 28HPC+ technology and process-design collaboration with MediaTek, we believe MediaTek will deliver a series of products which benefit smartphone users across the world.”
As with the entire line of Helio SoCs, the P10 is packed with premium multimedia features. With a concentration on advanced display technologies, premium camera features, and HiFi audio, the P10 delivers leading functionality around the features most used on today’s mobile phones:
21MP premium camera with the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine:
Enables ultra-sensitive RWWB sensor to capture twice as much light as traditional RGB sensors in order to retain true color and detail, even in low light. The RWWB sensor also enhances the color resolution, even when compared with RGBW sensors.
Other features include a new de-noise/de-mosaic HW, PDAF, video iHDR, dual main camera, less than 200ms shot-to shot delay, and video face beautify.
Hi-fidelity, hi-clarity audio achieves 110dB SNR & -95dB THD
Full HD display at 60FPS with MediaTek’s suite of MiraVision 2.0 display technologies:
UltraDimming – Dimmer background lighting for more comfortable reading, even in low-light situations.
BluLight Defender – A built-in blue light filter that saves more power than conventional software applications.
Adaptive Picture Quality – Ensures the best picture quality when using different applications. True-to-life colors when in camera preview; vibrant colors when watching videos.
The MediaTek Helio P10 will be released in Q3 2015 and is expected to be available in consumer products in late 2015.
Note that Helio P1 is a significant step in MediaTek’s strategy already outlined in the following posts of mine:
– March 4, 2014: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC
– March 10, 2015: MediaTek’s next 10 years’ strategy for devices, wearables and IoT
Centaur Technology: Do the same job that an Intel processor can do, but doing it less expensively, with a much smaller group and Glenn Henry in charge
An October 11, 2014 teaser video (what might be behind see: Can VIA Technologies save the mobile computing future of the x86 (x64) legacy platform?). Glenn Henry on Wikipedia.
Their previous teaser was Coming very soon from Centaur Technology: A Leap Ahead in Chip Design [this same blog, Oct 9, 2014]
An October 8, 2014 teaser video (what might be behind see: Can VIA Technologies save the mobile computing future of the x86 (x64) legacy platform?)
64-bit ARM (ARMv8-A) outlook: full smartphone penetration by 2018, volume start in servers next year, plus strong presence in enterprise networking
Previous ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ posts on the subject:
Software defined server without Microsoft: HP Moonshot [April 10 – Dec 6, 2013]
With 28nm non-exclusive in 2013 TSMC tested first tape-out of an ARM Cortex™-A57 processor on 16nm FinFET process technology [April 3, 2013 – April 18, 2013]
Intel targeting ARM based microservers: the Calxeda case [Dec 14, 2012]
From: ARM Holdings plc, Q1 2014 Roadshow Slides [April 22, 2014]
Licensing Drives Market Share
ARM gains share by winning designs at leading semiconductor companies:
- With choice of suppliers, OEMs are innovating with new types of products
- ARM technology can be used for applications processing, connectivity and storage
- Standard software is available today and enables all form factors to connect to the internet and display all the web pages, play videos, network with friends …
Mobile computers include handheld computers, tablets, and laptops
Assumptions in Smartphones
– 100% penetration of Cortex-A processors
– 100% penetration of big.LITTLE in mid-range and premium
– 30% to 50% penetration of Mali graphics
The first quarter of 2014 saw particularly strong uptake of ARM’s most advanced ARMv8 processor technology with five licenses signed by four semiconductor companies. These customers are planning to develop chips for automotive infotainment systems, carrier networks and high performance computing. During the quarter we saw announcements from Marvell, Mediatek and Qualcomm on how they are developing multicore ARMv8 based processors for use in mid-range and premium smartphones and tablets. There were also announcements from Broadcom and Freescale, they plan to deploy ARMv8 based chips into data centers and enterprise networking equipment. ARMv8 is now the computing platform of choice for future chip designs not just in mobile computing but increasingly in consumer electronics, the data center and networking infrastructure.
We have had very strong licensing as you’ve seen in the numbers here and we have seen a number of exciting products announcements from some of our licensees. At Mobile World Congress recently we saw three key announcements from Qualcomm, from Marvell, from Mediatek talking about ARMv8 based chips for mid-range and high-end smartphones and tablets. Now those devices will take time to conclude, they will take time to get into products, take time to ship. But I think we’re in good track in generally in terms of the deployment of those version 8 of the architecture.
I think it’s worth pointing out that the v8 licensing cycle is in its relatively early stages. We have done sort of 30 licenses plus [out of the total 43 at the moment] compared with well over a 100 in v7.
ARM Progress in Servers:
I don’t have the exact numbers on the top of my head but certainly there were more architecture licenses earlier in the lifetime of v8 than there were in v7, that was driven more about the addressing different markets. So most of the early architecture licensees for v8 in fact all the architecture licensees for v8 have been looking at markets that hasn’t traditionally served with our own base products and when it gets to market very early as some of the early guys took an architecture license, companies like Cavium, companies like Applied Micro, who really wanted to target the enterprise space, the data center, high end networking which wasn’t where ARM had traditionally played and that was a vehicle to enable them to get into that market using ARM technology. So that’s been a great vehicle for us because it has allowed us to broaden the penetration of the ARM architecture into new markets and we see that as part of our strategy for long term growth.
In terms of SBSA [ARM Server Base System Architecture covering operating systems from Linux to Microsoft] the main purpose of that work was to accelerate the deployment of SoCs into the data center. The great beauty of our model is that every customer of ours can design a chip that’s different from any other customer and when it comes to enterprise software though there is great benefit in having some of the system architecture that is actually not differentiating, standardized, so it’s easier for software developers to write code that’s going to run on these chips. So SBSA was all about standardizing the right points of the chip to accelerate software development and hence accelerate deployment of real systems. So it’s less so about SoC development as it was about software development. We have seen the uptake of SBSA in the SoC architecture by a number of our licensees. Those chips are coming to market now and with a more clearly defined target architecture for software developers the work to we should see more on deployments in ARM based service sooner. But that’s what that’s all about.
Re: Can you give us an update on the server market? Where are you in terms of the ecosystem? And roughly by when do you think we can see commercial shipments of ARM-based servers? Is that something we can see before the end of this year, or is that likely to be more a 2015 phenomenon?
So let me just briefly talk about servers, I think progress there is good. We’re starting to see silicon devices, we’re seeing a lot of effort go into software development for ARM based servers. I mean recently as an example we just saw Oracle introduce Java SE, which brings Java to many ARM-based devices and that’s very important technology for servers but again SBSA as a vehicle for accelerating software development, it is also very important and I think we will start to see commercial deployments later this year. I have been saying that sometime I still think that’s on track to happen and we will start to see volume start to take off I think probably next year but I do expect to see commercial deployment this year.
Re: … enterprise networking … since that’s quite a wide market, which goes from low-end stuff, like network interface cards, all the way up to base stations, routers, et cetera., the growth that you’re seeing, where is it coming from? …
ARM in Enterprise Networking:
On enterprise networking you mentioned there is a whole wide range of end markets that could be targeted and where are we seeing success. It really is across the range, I mean we have been in routers for a long time, more kind of commercial grade. We’re starting to see use of ARM is switches, in base stations, big base stations, small base stations. It really is across the board and in that enterprise space that is something that’s very positive for our blended average royalty rate and we’re seeing effects of that. I mean a lot of the bigger chips that I was saying are using multiple-cores. There are large numbers of Cortex-A15 is being used for example in some of the bigger chips today and that obviously has a positive impact on the royalty rate per chip on average but again given the volumes this is one of those things where every little helps and makes a small change.
ARM for the Datacenter – Ian Drew [Open Compute Project YouTube channel, Jan 31, 2014]
ARMv8-A Licensee Fact Sheet [April 23, 2014]
- Over 25 companies have licensed ARMv8-A technology
- Over 40 licenses signed for ARMv8-A technology
- Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Mediatek and Marvell have announced ARMv8-A chips for mobile devices
- LG, Rockchip and Samsung have stated their intentions to release ARMv8-A chips for mobile
- The first 64-bit mobile devices were based on ARM and shipped in 2013
- ARMv8-A 64-bit kernel and tools are available today
ARMv8-A Public Licensees
- Altera Altera’s FPGA with an embedded Cortex-A53 processor will be manufactured on Intel 14nm process.
- AMD AMD’s Opteron A1100 server chips comes in two variants: 4x or 8x Cortex-A57 processors.
- AMCC AMCC’s X-Gene server chip will feature in HP Moonshot systems this year.
- Broadcom Broadcom will release a 3Ghz 16nm ARMv8-A chip optimized for Network Function Virtualisation.
- Cavium Project Thunder SOCs will target the cloud and datacenter markets.
- Huawei Lead partner on Cortex-A57
- LG Lead partner on Cortex-A50 family and next-generation Mali GPUs. For LG devices.
- Marvell Armada PXA 1928 contains a quad-core Cortex-A53 with integrated LTE modem. Sampling Mar 2014.
- Mediatek MT6732 contains quad-core Cortex-A53 and Mali-T760.
- Nvidia The 64-bit Tegra K1 contains a dual-core ARMv8-A processor. Mobile and automotive.
- Rockchip Licensed Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processors. Mobile internet and smart home markets.
- Samsung Samsung has said its first 64-bit chip for mobile devices will be based on an ARM-designed processor.
- STMicro The Sti8K range of SOCs for the Digital Home is based on Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 technology.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 610 and 810 chips contain Cortex-A50 processors; the 810 uses big and little cores.
Accelerating ARMv8-A Powered Server Adoption Through Collaborative Platform Standardization (SBSA) [Jeff Underhill in Smart and Connected Blog of ARM, Jan 29, 2014]
And why did I say that? I said it because as a partnership, we’re disrupting the data center market which is now in a period of unprecedented innovation. It may not be obvious but the ARM partnership has been disrupting the data center for years, as the architecture at the heart of the majority of mobile devices and many smart connected devices we’ve been indirectly impacting how hyper scale data centers are architected to address these new classes of cloud and web based workloads.
When the data center is fundamental to operating your business, as opposed to just providing supporting functions, cost savings become extremely important as they directly impact your bottom line. That’s why companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon and many more are laser-focused on reducing their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). However, early adoption of new innovation must be balanced with deployment and management costs since the ‘T’ in TCO represents ‘Total.’ Standards are fundamental to ensure ease of deployment and cross-platform portability in the data center, and that’s why we’re excited to announce a new foundational specification that we’ve been collaborating on for a while – the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification.
For those of you wanting to jump right in and read the specification you can download it here.
Competition is good; Choice fosters competition
A few years ago several ARM partners set about revisiting server design to better meet these new classes of workloads in a way that would provide the next step function efficiency improvements and, ultimately, TCO. The ARM partnership showed the world what was possible when you challenge convention and empower engineers with innovative, enterprise-grade technology building blocks whose DNA is strongly rooted in the power-efficient mobile world. Collectively we’ve already changed the industry as incumbent players have taken note and adjusted their roadmaps in favor of system-on-chip (SoC) designs.
While we’ve seen initial server success with 32-bit ARMv7 architecture-based solutions from Marvell & Texas Instruments, the arrival of 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture-based solutions marks a significant increase in the number and diversity of solutions. In addition to Applied Micro, AMD, Broadcom and Cavium have all made 64-bit announcements. Choice gives data center operators the opportunity to select best-of-breed solutions that enable them to meet their TCO goals. As a result, there is clear and growing demand for more workload-optimized solutions by a server market that was largely devoid of choice for the past 20+ years. However, as mentioned earlier data center operators are responsible for managing complex environments, and they must balance new technology adoption with any potential complexities (that a heterogeneous environment may bring).
Standards accelerate time-to-market and ease deployment
Imagine for a moment that you have a data center with thousands of existing servers. You may have a single OS running throughout your data center or you may have multiple OS’s, but either way you will likely have a single variant of each OS that deploys across all servers in your data center. Having to adopt a new and unique OS in order to roll out new and innovative hardware is not acceptable. It would quickly become unwieldy to manage and cause significant maintenance overhead (especially managing updates and patch sets to fix major bugs or security issues).
With multiple ARMv8-A architecture-based server solutions coming to market this year, it’s important to ensure that OS, firmware and software developers can rapidly develop and deploy on ARM-based servers, especially since there will be more choice and a broader diversity of solutions. The ARM partnership worked together to help ensure this would be the case when ARMv8-A architecture-based servers became a reality, and this is why the release of the ARM Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification is such an important milestone. The SBSA specification has been in development for some time (as evidenced by compliant silicon already existing), and represents close collaboration across the ARM partnership from software companies, OEMs and silicon partners, including: AMD, Applied Micro, Broadcom, Canonical, Cavium, Citrix, Dell, HP, Linaro, Microsoft, Red Hat, SUSE and Texas Instruments.
A large part of the ARM value proposition stems from a licensing model that empowers partners with technology building blocks on which they can innovate and develop compelling solutions. This means standardization efforts must strike a balance to avoid diluting or eliminating innovation. As owners and stewards of the ARM architecture, we are pleased to collaborate with other industry leaders to drive standards that help strike that balance and enable OS, firmware and software developers to rapidly develop and deploy on ARM-based servers.
The SBSA is a foundational specification that will evolve over time; encompassing additional capabilities such as live migration of virtual machines between different ARMv8-A architecture-based systems. It is a hardware specification that firmware, OS and virtualization companies will use to target a logical progression of platforms to accelerate development and ensure cross-platform portability.
SBSA standardizes low-level CPU and SoC attributes such as timers, interrupt controllers, watch dog timers, performance counters and also specifies minimum hardware requirements that firmware and OS vendors expect to be present. It stipulates adherence to industry standards for boot devices so that they can be managed in a consistent manner, and requires all hardware be describable or discoverable, to eliminate the need for explicit platform knowledge baked into the OS kernel. In order to provide a logical platform progression over time, the specification defines levels of standardization. This provides a common language for the ecosystem to describe SoC and software capabilities, and ensure they intersect. In the example below, each level introduces additional requirements and is a superset of the previous level (unless explicitly documented). Silicon vendors are permitted to support capabilities beyond a given level as long as software created for that level is able to run unmodified. OS vendors are able to develop support for multiple levels in a single OS offering, thereby accelerating time-to-market and reducing maintenance by ensuring they can run across all ARMv8-A architecture-based server platforms:
The ARM partnership has consistently demonstrated its ability to collaborate and address common challenges that benefit the ecosystem at large. Linaro, a not-for-profit engineering organization founded 3.5 years ago, is another great example of this. More specifically, the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG) is focused exclusively on the development, test and up streaming of server-specific open source software. Linaro, through close collaboration with the open source community, is helping to implement some of the key software components in support of the SBSA specification. Linaro is also identifying potential areas for additional standardization that will benefit the open source community and improve software development and long-term maintainability. It’s a symbiotic relationship that will help ensure good software support exists in the Linux upstream:
ARM is excited to reach this important milestone, especially with the support of a vibrant and growing ecosystem, and we also realize there is still much work ahead to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves. This year represents an important inflection point for the ARM partnership as ARMv8-A architecture-based server solutions emerge and significantly extend our reach across a broader set of data center workloads representing a much broader market opportunity. The SBSA is the first of multiple specifications we expect to publicly release … so watch this space!
In the meantime, “you are now free to move around the ARM-based server ecosystem!”
ARM Ecosystem Collaborates to Deliver Initial Server Platform Standard [press release, Jan 29, 2014]
Accelerates data center software development for ARM-based servers
Cambridge, UK – 29 January 2014 – ARM® today announced the collaborative development and immediate availability of a platform standard for ARMv8-A based (64-bit) servers, known as the ARM ‘Server Base System Architecture’ (SBSA) specification. This effort included input and support from software companies such as Canonical, Citrix, Linaro, Microsoft, Red Hat and SUSE, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Dell and HP along with a broad set of silicon partners. This specification provides a framework for the deployment of innovative ARM architecture-based solutions in data center applications, and it will help accelerate software development and enable portability between ARM-based platforms. This specification is focused on aligning the ARM partnership around key system elements; empowering the ecosystem to build differentiated, value-added solutions that accelerate innovation and choice in the marketplace.
Data centers demand standards-based software and hardware offerings to ensure ease of deployment and manageability. Releasing the SBSA specification marks the beginning of a broader standardization activity that will simplify the development and deployment process for the entire developer ecosystem – from silicon to software, and all the way through to end-users. This initiative will accelerate the software ecosystem for ARM-based servers by providing operating system vendors (OSVs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) the ability to deliver technology that addresses the entirety of the ARM server community, featuring a rich, broad set of devices and platforms in a common way.
“As ARM’s data center ecosystem continues its rapid growth, this milestone enables partners to focus on their innovation while building on standards that help simplify their development and accelerate their time-to-market,” said Mike Muller, chief technology officer, ARM. “As owners and stewards of the ARM architecture, we are pleased to collaborate with other industry leaders to drive standards that enable OS, firmware and software developers to rapidly develop and deploy on ARM-based servers.”
“We are extremely pleased to see ARM take these steps, which we believe are very much in line with the principles of the Open Compute Project,” said Frank Frankovsky, president and chairman, Open Compute Project Foundation. “These standardization efforts will help speed adoption of ARM in the datacenter by providing consumers and software developers with the consistency and predictability they require, and by helping increase the pace of innovation in ARM technologies by eliminating gratuitous differentiation in areas like device enumeration and boot process.” Mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving the rapid adoption of cloud-based services, and data center operators have to adapt to the shifting characteristics of these new workloads. In order to efficiently meet these demands, the industry is seeking a richer choice of targeted solutions where software portability and standardization are key deployment considerations.
ARM Partner Quotes
“Adopting industry standards and defining base platforms are essential for creating a healthy ARM-based 64-bit server ecosystem,” said Dr. Leendert van Doorn, corporate fellow and corporate vice president, AMD. “AMD is excited to have worked with ARM on the Server Base System Architecture requirements, and the public release of this specification will accelerate the adoption of ARM-based 64-bit servers.”
“With X-Gene as the first product in the industry to be SBSA compliant, AppliedMicro is in full support of the ARM server standardization efforts,” said Dr. Paramesh Gopi, president and chief executive officer, AppliedMicro. “Bringing together OS vendors, server OEMs and silicon providers to work cohesively is providing a fully inter-operable standard platform at the same time fostering innovation resulting in compelling server solutions.”
“Broadcom strongly believes in the value of standardization and ensuring software interoperability for the long-term success of the 64-bit ARM architecture,” said Ron Jankov, senior vice president and general manager, Processors and Wireless Infrastructure, Broadcom. “With the ARM 64-bit architecture, Broadcom is uniquely positioned to provide leadership in the 64-bit ARM ecosystem with server-class CPUs, best-in-class hardware acceleration, and data-center networking expertise.”
“ARM-based servers have the potential to transform the datacenter ecosystem back into a dynamic, innovative market,” said Christian Reis, vice president, Hyperscale Computing, Canonical. “We see the SBSA effort removing barriers to adoption by providing a framework for system implementation that any technology supplier can easily understand and follow. Canonical fully supports this effort and is committed to SBSA compliance for our Ubuntu Server product family.”
“Cavium’s Project Thunder will provide a family of multicore ARMv8 64-bit server-class processors for the cloud and data centers,” said Gopal Hegde, vice president and general manager, Data Center Processor Group, Cavium. “Working closely with ARM and the ecosystem, the Thunder product offering will provide a comprehensive workload optimized portfolio solution that will be interoperable across multiple management and orchestration standards. We applaud ARM’s leadership in spearheading the Server Platform Standard that will accelerate the adoption of the ARM architecture in the data center and cloud environment.”
Cavium talks about and shows their latest enterprise, data center, wired and wireless networking OCTEON and OCTEON Fusion SoCs based on ARMv8 64bit and MIPS, making customized optimized core designs for each in use for cloud servers and base stations among other. CAVIUM claims that their ARMv8 64bit enterprise/server design, due to be released later this year, provides more performance at lower power consumption than Intel´s x86.
“Citrix is the cloud company that enables mobile workstyles. Citrix is committed to open standards and has been recently engaged in the Server Base System Architecture discussion. We see the publication of the document as a positive move for the industry,” said Ahmed Sallam, vice president and chief technology officer, Hardware, Security, Emerging Solutions and IP, Citrix Systems. “The SBSA will foster the ARM-based server ecosystem and will act as a foundation for the coming years. Citrix will remain engaged in SBSA discussions and we will continue to provide our input based on what benefits our industry, partners and customers.”
“Open and standards-based technologies have been a cornerstone of Dell’s philosophy for 30 years,” said Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions for Dell. “As multiple ARMv8 server system-on-chips become available, it’s important that we can effectively deliver new innovations and freedom of choice to our customers. A well-defined, standards-based platform is instrumental in providing OS portability and a familiar user experience to our customers seeking to deploy these new classes of server offerings. We are pleased with the progress the ARM ecosystem has made towards achieving this significant goal.”
“HP has supported ARM’s standardization effort since its inception, recognizing the benefits of an extensible platform with value-added features,” said Dong Wei, HP fellow. “With the new SBSA specification, we are able to establish a simplified baseline for deploying ARM-based solutions and look forward to future HP products based on the ARM architecture.”
“The ARM architecture and business model is unique in enabling rapid innovation from multiple ARM licensees. Many companies are now building innovative and differentiated solutions for the next generation low-power data center,” said David Rusling, chief technical officer, Linaro. “ARM’s SBSA is a critical component of enabling technology to standardize the common part of these solutions, and we look forward to working with ARM and ARM’s licensees on utilizing this technology to accelerate the deployment of a broad range of ARMv8-based server products.”
“Today’s announcement of ARM Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) underscores the importance of having standards for the successful adoption and deployment of modern computer architectures, such as ARMv8,” said Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architect, Red Hat. “Red Hat’s support for standards via our participation in the Linaro Enterprise Group, our unique insight as the world’s leading supplier of Open Source server technologies and the collaborative ecosystem effort led by ARM, has enabled us to contribute to the creation of a unified common platform capable of supporting the ARM Architecture at Hyperscale”.
“SUSE has worked on and supported development around ARM processors for several years, and we anticipate ARM processor adoption in cloud, big data and high-performance computing applications,” said Ralf Flaxa, vice president of engineering, SUSE. “SUSE welcomes the SBSA standardization efforts and is proud to contribute to the server platform standard’s development. As the market emerges, this standard will become a key factor determining success in the enterprise ecosystem, and we look forward to working with platforms that implement it.”
“As an early innovator of unique server-grade KeyStone SoCs that combine digital signal processors, ARM Cortex processors, packet processing, security acceleration and Ethernet switching, TI applauds the ARM ecosystem for its collaboration on delivering the SBSA specification, ” said Bill Mills, chief technologist for open source, Texas Instruments. “Standardizations, such as SBSA, enable software simplification without impacting the innovation our heterogeneous compute elements bring to high-performance compute customers.”
To download a copy of the Server Base System Architecture specification, go to: http://infocenter.arm.com/help/index.jsp?topic=/com.arm.doc.den0029/index.html.
At the January Facebook OpenCompute Project event in San Jose, ARM announced the public release of the system base architecture specification (SBSA). Jeff Underhill [see earlier] has gone into some detail in his blog about the details included in this document. As one of the renegades that started the ARM server program several years ago, I felt it appropriate to share some thoughts as to why Jeff and I initiated this work and how it fits into the server program that ARM and its partners are feverously working on.
About a year ago, I moved out of the server marketing program to lead a number of other vertical market initiatives. I have continued to monitor (some may say I have “separation anxiety issues”) the excellent progress being made by those that have taken over the reins, including Lakshmi Mandyam who now leads this initiative.
In any market initiative, the success of ARM technology is achieved by finding the right balance between standardization and innovation. Standardization enables a software ecosystem to coalesce. To quote my business friend Frank Frankovsky, the pioneer and visonary behing the OpenCompute Project at Facebook, we need to avoid “gratuitous differentiation”; namely differences between devices that offer limited differentiation at the platform level yet cause challenge for the software ecosystem. Innovation enables silicon partners to integrate functionality that will provide specific benefits for the particular application or a set of applications. This approach encourages multiple companies to enter a particular application, giving end users and platform builders a choice of solutions from which to select. Competition is good. The pace of innovation continues at an incredible pace.
From the outset, the goal of server initiative was to bring the level of innovation seen in the mobile world to a market devoid of disruption and change for so long. This sounds easy. However achieving this balance is challenging, especially as ARM’s model is to agree on these specifications with a consensus driven culture across the partnership as opposed to mandating and imposing a particular direction. It is important for our partners to feel there are areas of system functionality that they can implement while remaining compliant with the SBSA. A reader of this specification will soon realize that the document does not prescribe the functionality of an ARM based server down at the connector or form factor level. To this end, Jeff Underhill started this standardization work when I was leading the server initiative. It is fantastic to see it coming into the public domain today.
As the press release indicates, a number of companies have come together to work on this specification. Beyond the companies that have made public announcements about their activities in the ARM server domain, little should be implied about commitments by the companies list here to build ARM products for this domain. Merely that through partnership, there is a “recipe” for ensuring a 64-bit server operating system will boot in a standard way irrespective of the ARMv8-based SoC that a platform is based on.
As I mentioned above, ARM believes that it is important to have many silicon partners pursuing a specific application domain. It fuels innovation and enables companies further down the value chain to select the device that best meets their requirements. The emergence of cloud computing has changed the mix of compute, memory and IO in the workloads. I expect this to change even more with the plethora of connected sensors that will start to communicate with hosted services. As Mike Muller, ARM’s CTO states, “Big Data starts with Little Data”. When it comes to infrastructure equipment, one size does not fit all. As many press and market analysts observed, Calxeda ceased operations last month. Calxeda was a strong pioneer in this domain and it is disappointing to seem them close their doors. That said, as evidenced at OCP with the product announcement by AMD of their Opteron™ A1100 Series based on the Cortex-A57 processor and the demonstrations of the X-Gene product in platforms by Applied Micro, there are several others rising up to carry the torch. I expect other semiconductor companies that have publically declared their intent to pursue this domain such as Broadcom & Cavium to share progress updates in the coming months and quarters.
It is perfectly fair (and indeed natural) for some industry analysts, end customers and system builders to remain skeptical. It is down to the ARM Ecosystem to demonstrate the benefits promised for server applications to shift the opinions of the doubters. Icebergs have about 90% of their mass under the surface. Just like the SBSA announcement did today, additional elements of the program will start to rise above the surface and become visible in the public domain in the coming months and years that will also help crystalize the direction of the program. I remain incredibly confident of the value proposition and the vector on which ARM and its partners are headed.
OCP Summit V 2014 kicks off the year of ARM servers [Lakshmi Mandyamon Smart and Connected Blog of ARM, Feb 15, 2014]
The last week in January was a great week for the ARM server ecosystem and we had a great week at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit. My OCP summit week started with an interview with my friends at ‘theCUBE’ lakshmi mandyan – YouTube. We talked about how much OCP summit had grown with attendance almost doubling from 2013 to 2014. The other conversation we had was about how OCP summit was creating a voice for “hobbyists” or the “maker movement”. Well at ARM we have been feeding the maker movement across the spectrum right from our Cortex M0 based MBED to Arduino to Rasberry Pi and now with some of the OCP platforms that were announced at the show from partners like AMD and Applied Micro the momentum continues.
The morning of OCP summit featured a “group hug” in the guise of AMD, Applied Micro and Intel all going one after the other with keynotes. Andrew Feldman of AMD delivered a great presentation on how the world has changed and the implications that change has for the data center Disruptive Technologies for the Datacenter – Andrew Feldman – YouTube he also announced that the Opteron A1100 chip, featuring 8 Cortex-A57 processors and a plethora of other integration, will be sampling in March and that they made an OCP contribution based on this processor.
Paramesh Gopi CEO of Applied Micro also shared his vision on where the X-GENE product line is evolving [with next gen X-Gene and X-Weave] to with FinFet, 16+ cores [on a die], RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE [240G I/O]) continuing to drive higher integration that will drive down TCO Paramesh Gopi, Applied Micro – YouTubeOCP Summit V – January 28, 2014 – San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California Paramesh Gopi, Applied Micro
On day2 our CMO Ian Drew delivered a great key note titled “ARM in the Data Center” ARM for the Datacenter – Ian Drew – YouTube [was included earlier into this post] where he announced the collaborative creation and public release of the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA). My colleagues Jeff Underhill and Ian Ferguson have already blogged about that announcement in detail the links to their blogs can be found here and here respectively.
There were several articles published about the SBSA launch. A couple of my favorite quotes were:
- “We can only applaud these efforts: it will eliminate a lot of useless time investments, lower costs and help make ARM partners a real option in servers. With the expected launch of many ARM Cortex-A57 based server SoCs this year, it looks like 2014 can be a breakthrough year for ARM servers.” – Johan De Gelas, AnandTech
- “The more powerful, 64-bit designs are a threat to Intel Corp., which controls more than 95 percent of the market for chips in servers that use personal-computer processors. ARM, whose designs are found in chips that run Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, is betting that the regulated designs will be cheaper to use and create a wider market for the chips.” – Amy Thomson, Bloomberg News
During the fireside chat following Ian’s keynote, Marc Andreessen was bullish on ARM in the Data Center http://youtu.be/O-gENvy0F-w . He shared how he believed that the cost burden that data centers were under was demanding a broader supply chain including players in the current smartphone supply chain. He talked about the grand unification of the data center and smart phone supply chain and how ARM based chips would be the first case study.
The momentum has continued beyond OCP summit. Dell was one of the first OEM partners for ARM when they announced their Dell Copper platform. They are continuing to invest in ARM programs, a great example being the recently announced proof of concept with Applied Micro for Hyperscale development Dell offers 64-bit ARM microserver proof-of-concept for hyperscale on the heels of Open Compute Summit momentum – Dell4… .
Last week I was doing a number of press and analyst briefings in Europe with our partner AMD on their announcement and people are clearly excited about the history AMD brings to the ARM party in terms of being a credible vendor of server technologies. It has also been fun watching them share their story about why ARM will win in the long run!
2014 is the year of ARM servers!
2014 will be the last year of “free ride” in the smartphone and tablet spaces for ARM-based competitors of Intel – at least what Intel is insisting again
With 2013 performance of only 10 million tablet chip sets (for Windows mostly) Intel is still confident in its ability to deliver 40 million of those (with increased Android portion) in 2014. To achieve this they will be doing a lot of enabling across the industry to take the Bay Trail-based tablet BOM cost down to an equivalent level. They expect that the company’s overall margin will be hit just by 1.5% because of this required in 2014 effort. They are saying that Intel will be safe from 2015 on as moving to 14nm process technology with next-generation (even in terms of micro-architecture) Broxton and SOFIA SoCs for tablet and smartphone devices. They are basing this statement on their inherent “transistor density” advantage against TSMC from that point in time on, despite some analysts’ opinion of the economy of scale advantage of TSMC in terms of the number of wafers produced.
With media generally reporting that Acer’s biggest mistake was its too early and too heavy bet on ultrabooks it is clear that OEMs will take a very cautious approach with Intel’s efforts to decrease the Bay-Trail based tablet costs down on the BOM level, as it is exactly what happened with ultrabooks. Instead the will try to solidify their tablet market position with ARM-based tablets in all segments of the tablet market, from the lowest cost upto the premium. Moreover, Jason Chen’s appointment to the CEO position of Acer is also showing that even for ongoing efforts OEMs need a very detailed and deep understanding of the SoC manufacturing and even the process technologies. Take note of Jason Chen’s history of employment in order to understand that:
- TSMC: 2005-2013
- Intel: 1991-2005
- IBM: 1991-1998
In other regards we only know that Acer to start new operation strategy in April to focus on BYOC (Build Your Own Cloud) [DIGITIMES, Jan 13, 2014] and that “In the future, all of Acer’s businesses including desktop, notebook and tablet will involve the BYOC platform and it is hoping to strengthen its product lines through the services.” It will be interesting to watch what that means as my previous conclusion was Leading PC vendors of the past: Go enterprise or die! [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 7, 2013].
Now back to the Intel related information in terms of details in their earnings call. Note before that the correlation of Intel and Microsoft stock prices (as well that the stock market was absolutely not happy with Intel results and especially with the “flat 2014” outlook):
The company’s stance for 2014 is indeed not rosy as Intel to reduce global workforce by five percent in 2014 [Reuters, Jan 17, 2014].
From: Intel’s CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 16, 2014]
Inserted slides are from Investor Meeting – Stacy Smith (CFO) [Nov 21, 2013] while the acompanying text is from Intel Shares Mobile Progress, Priorities and Product Pipeline at Annual Investor Day [Technology@Intel, Nov 25, 2013] if reference is not put underneath
[On transistor density and wafer cost]
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies
Thanks for taking my question. At the Analyst Day, you addressed your view on transistor density and your expectation for leadership on that vector, but I have to say this discussing that idea with investors is a consensus view that seems to be that Intel has an inherent wafer cost disadvantage that relative to TSMC that neutralizes or more than neutralizes your transistor density advantage and the argument is that TSMC ships more wafers and therefore has more better purchasing power than you and its lower labor cost, so net-net, they have just a big huge advantage of wafer cost that you should have a hard to, too hard of a time to overcome. So my question is do you think that’s a fair view. Can you help us talk to the relative elements of the wafer cost and how you think you can compare? Any kind of help that you give us on the cost dimension would be extremely helpful. Thank you.
From: CES: Process Will Still Win in Mobile, Says Intel’s Eul [Barrons.com, Jan 9, 2014]
Eul points out that Qualcomm, and other competitors such as Nvidia (NVDA) and Broadcom (BRCM), all of whom are dependent on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to actually make the chips they design, will run into a problem as Taiwan Semi’s technology stops scaling.
Intel had made the point at the analyst day presentation, and Eul repeated it: As TSMC moves from 28 nanometer to 20 nanometer, it will run into a problem at the subsequent step, 16 nanometer, where TSMC will not add any real reduction in transistor size. That, says Eul, means that 16-nanometer parts a few years from now will be stuck at a 20-nanometer feature size while intel presumably zooms ahead to 10 nanometer by that time.
And what that means is that, unable to scale the density of a chip as Intel can, Qualcomm and Nvidia and Broadcom and the others will not be able to integrate as many parts as Intel on a single semiconductor die.
And so to those who point out that Intel hasn’t yet released its integrated baseband chip, Sofia, mentioned above, Eul contends the company will have the last laugh in a few years’ time as Qualcomm and the rest hitting a scaling wall.
Brian Krzanich – Chief Executive Officer
You know I think the first thing to remember is that what really counts in all of this is transistor cost and what we really talk about in our Moore’s Law of Curves and when we talk about transistor density is driving a consistent cost reduction of the transistors and so wafer cost is one segment of that. I’m not going to comment on you know TSMC’s wafer cost versus our wafer cost but we feel confident that our relative level of scaling and our internal wafer cost are such that we believe we have a leadership position in transistor cost.
When you’re talking about any product whatever it is, a logic product that’s a low-end microprocessor for wearable or internet of things or high-end Xeon server. You’re talking about the number of case and hence the number of transistors required to put that logic device together, it doesn’t matter whose technology it’s on to some extent. It doesn’t matter what node and so the more cost effective those transistors are whether it’s 500 million or 3 billion the lower the product cost there is and that’s really what we focus on and why we focus on transistor cost. So I think we stand by our what we said at the investor meeting.
Brian Krzanich: Our disclosure in November of a new smartphone and tablet road map that will include SoFIA our first IA SSD with integrated comps later this year is further evident that we’re innovating and bringing products to market at faster pace. Looking ahead 2014 will be an exciting year as we build further on this new foundation. We have established a goal to grow our tablet volumes to more than 40 million units. Within an emphasis on the value segment. As we’re finishing 2013 with more than 10 million units and a strong book of design wins we’re off to a good start.
Stacy Smith: In the tablet market, we launched the Bay Trail SoC and have started to expand our footprint and market signature in this growing market.
The 4X Tablet Campaign: This year, Intel increased its focus on tablets with key design wins and the introduction of Bay Trail. Next year, Intel plans to increase tablet volumes by 4X! Eul signaled a rich pipeline of tablet and phablet design wins for Bay Trail including Android and Windows devices spanning price points from premium to sub $99 products from leading OEMs and the China tech ecosystem. He also said industry leading performance, competitive battery life, cost-reduced SOCs and unique features like 64 bit will help drive growth. Intel gave a first-time demo of the performance gains achieved with a 64 bit Bay Trail system running Windows and showed a 64 bit kernel running on an Android tablet.
Note the details about the 2014 tablet market of ~289+ million units in the 2014 will be the last year of making sufficient changes for Microsoft’s smartphone and tablet strategies, and those changes should be radical if the company wants to suceed with its devices and services strategy [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Jan 17, 2014] post of mine. The 40 million target of Intel is therefore less than 14% of that.
[regarding: So on the tablet strategy to get the 40 million you’re saying it’s going to be a 1.5 percentage hit.
Gross Margin Reconciliation: 2013 to 2014 Outlook (59.8% to 60% +/- a few points)
– 1.5 points: Tablet impact
Let’s say you guys get into the second half of the year and you’re not quite to the 40 million if it’s a pretty significant short fall. Would you consider canning that strategy I guess I’m just wondering what the commitment is if the volumes aren’t there but the cost is there by the end of the year?]
Brian Krzanich: This isn’t a price reduction as normal price reduction would be; it’s not where you are just simply reducing. It’s truly a BOM cost equalizer and remember a lot of our 40 million tablets in ’14 will be based on Bay Trail. Bay Trail was originally designed for Avoton-based PC segments and the upper end tablet [and all Windows]. And so it’s what we are doing here is doing a BOM cast delta relative to the, what the mid and lower end tablets require. And so those are things like Bay Trail may require more layers of a printed circuit board for the board itself, more components on the board and tighter power management controls and things like that. We have a whole program to reduce those throughout the year. So that gives us confidence that as we go through the year, the BOM cast delta will shrink, but if the volume didn’t show up for some reason and I am not going to say that, that’s what’s going to happen, but I am confident it will, but if it didn’t it’s on a per unit basis. And so the spending on that contra would be reduced equivalently.
Stacy Smith: And I would just add as Brian said we are doing a lot of enabling across the industry to take the BOM cast out in equivalent. These are costs at the system level not at our chip level and it will vary a lot by SKU, but to give you a sense for a Bay Trail platform from the beginning of the year to the end of the year we think that, that BOM penalty drops by more than half. And so it kind of gets better out in time. And then when we get to the Broxton generation we think it’s de minimis.
Brian Krzanich: Both Broxton and SoFIA are just specifically designed to eliminate that delta.
Say “hello” to SoFIA: By the end of 2014, Intel will deliver a new integrated Atom processor + communications solution for entry and value smartphones and tablets, code-named SoFIA. In his presentation, Eul highlighted that Intel’s Infineon wireless assets make the company an “incumbent” in the mobile phone market, shipping more than 360M mobile platforms a year spanning 2G and 3G solutions. He said SoFIA builds on the proven 3G communications platform to deliver a competitive and highly integrated, IA-based mobile solution aimed at the fast-growing market for entry smartphones and tablets. The 3G version of SoFIA is expected by the end of 2014, and Eul said an LTE version would follow in the first half of 2015.
Accelerated Mobile Roadmap: While specific product details will be saved for a later date, Eul signaled a robust pipeline of new Atom processors and multi-comms solutions for 2014 and beyond to address devices spanning market segments from entry to performance smartphones and tablets, an approach he called “market-oriented pragmatism.” In addition to SoFIA, Eul noted:
Broxton – in 2015 Intel plans to deliver a 14nm, 64 bit SOC based on a new, next generation Atom architecture (Goldmont) targeted for hero devices. Broxton is being designed for pairing with Intel’s next generation LTE solutions.
[regarding: If we look at tablets and smartphone, what type of units do you need to reach for that business to stop having a material impact in gross margin from is 10 points higher utilization rates and excluding the contra revenue impact and that’s it? So just looking at the 40 million units target for this year, what type of volume do you need to get in order for gross margin to start appreciating from the west of the business if you exclude the contra revenue impact?]
Brian Krzanich: Yes, it’s hard to say. I mean, I will bridge back to our strategy here. Our strategy is that we are going to use our process technology leads. We will have leadership products that also are competitive or maybe even leadership in terms of cost and I showed some data at the investor meeting that just kind of showed the die size as we progress from Bay Trail to Broxton to SoFIA and so you can get a sense of the kinds of cost structure that we are going to have on a per unit basis. I don’t think it causes on a percentage basis. Yes, I can’t – I am not envisioning if this causes the gross margin percentage to go up, but you can definitely get to a space once we get through these contra enabling dollars where every unit we sell is accretive on a gross margin dollars per unit. It’s utilizing factories that we have in place for PCs. And so it’s a nice adder of that gross margin dollar per unit standpoint.
[regarding: Bay Trail Android tablets]
Brian Krzanich: Most of the Bay Trail Android tablets really start showing up more in Q2 than in Q1 and that’s again purely you know remember we made a shift, an original program for Bay Trail was all Windows. As we came into the midpoint of the year we sandbox [ph] shift and make it Windows and Android and so you know our OEM partners as well are targeting more towards Q2 and it’s just when you do you go and start putting back in that back to school event which is a next seasonal place where upside usually occur.
[regarding: On the smartphone or on tablet space, I think it is true that Intel has a manufacturing lead, but do you think your cost reduction efforts and then the Moore’s Law advantages ever progressed faster than the ASP declines in the space. In other words, do you think Intel can be sustainably profitable in the mobile space which is maturing?]
Brian Krzanich: Yes, we absolutely do. You saw at the investor meeting products like SoFIA, which really are going to be put on to 14-nanometer are fully integrated all the way through with the 3G option or an LTE option and that LTE is with carrier aggregation. Those kinds of products we believe are very, very cost competitive in fact leading from a cost position. In addition, we don’t talk a lot about, but we are already in that low cost Asia market. We are inch and then we are working with ODMs there. That’s actually where a lot of the innovations coming out of for some of these cost reductions on tablets and where we are getting the cost reduction ideas. So we are in that market now. We sold out of that Shenzhen low cost market in Q4. We will continue through it – through 2014 and with products like SoFIA on leading edge technology, we are very comfortable that we can get into those very low price points.