Intel CEO predicts DOOM for fab industry and competitors

We'll be top dog for years, Otellini tells investors


The semiconductor industry is at a major inflection point Intel's CEO Paul Otellini predicted today at the company's analyst day, with the increasing cost of manufacturing causing a shake-out among the biggest chip players that, he said, would only leave two or three companies at the leading edge of chip design.

Intel veteran Gordon Moore had predicted a thinning out of chip fabrication facilities once the cost of a new 200mm wafer manufacturing plant hit $1bn, but he'd been a little too early, Otellini said.

The reduction in the industry is beginning now with the cost of 300mm wafer manufacturing plants hitting $5bn he said, and the situation will accelerate with the launch of 450mm wafer fabs that would cost upwards of $10bn apiece. Such expensive facilities needed steady orders to be profitable and only a few companies, Intel included, could manage such consistent volumes - with Samsung likely to make it too.

This move would be intensified by the changes needed in designs and materials needed to build the next generation of computing chips. The move to production of Tri-gate technology has taken 10 years to develop, he said, and not many people could afford the R&D costs. Chip etchers without access to this kind of research would be forced into production of lower-spec, cheaper chips.

otellini tablet

Otellini is confident of competing with Apple on tablets

Otellini also had words of warning for ARM, Power, Sparc, or any other RISC chip and anyone else with a different architecture looking to cut into Chipzilla's markets. Intel has boosted Atom development to double Moore's Law and the latest z2460 smartphone chips were getting good reviews and would move to 22nm transistors next year, with Intel aiming to be a leader in ARM's core market. As for Windows 8 on non-Intel systems, Otellini warned that ARM is in for a rude awakening.

"ARM has a big uphill fight against what we're going to do – we have incumbency, legacy support, and the capabilities of Intel for scale and power," Otellini said. "Critically for CIOs, and also end users, is that drivers are just going to work. There will be some compatibility challenges for other architectures."

RISC processors are also in Intel's sights, with a push into the communications systems market with the latest Xeon processors. Communications vendors were moving away from proprietary RISC-based systems and Xeon was ideally situated to offer a more open architecture, Otellini claimed.

As is usual, an IT vendor is claiming that something that is pervasive, popular, and less costly is therefore open. This is not the case. The X86 architecture from Intel is precisely as open as an IBM mainframe.

Apple, too, will be addressed. Intel's forthcoming slim Ivy Bridge processors will enable Intel to offer Apple competition in the tablet space and Chipzilla is also planning a massive push around Ultrabooks to give OEMs something to compete with the MacBook Air.

All this means Intel is predicting a bright future for its sales and profits, which isn't surprising given that Otellini's audience for Thursday's meeting is investors (and the odd hack.) Despite the optimistic predictions, El Reg suspects ARM and Apple won’t be trembling in their stylish yet affordable shoes. ®


Other stories you might like

  • NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels
    The little lander that couldn't (any longer)

    The Martian InSight lander will no longer be able to function within months as dust continues to pile up on its solar panels, starving it of energy, NASA reported on Tuesday.

    Launched from Earth in 2018, the six-metre-wide machine's mission was sent to study the Red Planet below its surface. InSight is armed with a range of instruments, including a robotic arm, seismometer, and a soil temperature sensor. Astronomers figured the data would help them understand how the rocky cores of planets in the Solar System formed and evolved over time.

    "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems."

    Continue reading
  • The ‘substantial contributions’ Intel has promised to boost RISC-V adoption
    With the benefit of maybe revitalizing the x86 giant’s foundry business

    Analysis Here's something that would have seemed outlandish only a few years ago: to help fuel Intel's future growth, the x86 giant has vowed to do what it can to make the open-source RISC-V ISA worthy of widespread adoption.

    In a presentation, an Intel representative shared some details of how the chipmaker plans to contribute to RISC-V as part of its bet that the instruction set architecture will fuel growth for its revitalized contract chip manufacturing business.

    While Intel invested in RISC-V chip designer SiFive in 2018, the semiconductor titan's intentions with RISC-V evolved last year when it revealed that the contract manufacturing business key to its comeback, Intel Foundry Services, would be willing to make chips compatible with x86, Arm, and RISC-V ISAs. The chipmaker then announced in February it joined RISC-V International, the ISA's governing body, and launched a $1 billion innovation fund that will support chip designers, including those making RISC-V components.

    Continue reading
  • FBI warns of North Korean cyberspies posing as foreign IT workers
    Looking for tech talent? Kim Jong-un's friendly freelancers, at your service

    Pay close attention to that resume before offering that work contract.

    The FBI, in a joint advisory with the US government Departments of State and Treasury, has warned that North Korea's cyberspies are posing as non-North-Korean IT workers to bag Western jobs to advance Kim Jong-un's nefarious pursuits.

    In guidance [PDF] issued this week, the Feds warned that these techies often use fake IDs and other documents to pose as non-North-Korean nationals to gain freelance employment in North America, Europe, and east Asia. Additionally, North Korean IT workers may accept foreign contracts and then outsource those projects to non-North-Korean folks.

    Continue reading
  • Elon Musk says Twitter buy 'cannot move forward' until spam stats spat settled
    A stunning surprise to no one in this Solar System

    Elon Musk said his bid to acquire and privatize Twitter "cannot move forward" until the social network proves its claim that fake bot accounts make up less than five per cent of all users.

    The world's richest meme lord formally launched efforts to take over Twitter last month after buying a 9.2 per cent stake in the biz. He declined an offer to join the board of directors, only to return asking if he could buy the social media platform outright at $54.20 per share. Twitter's board resisted Musk's plans at first, installing a "poison pill" to hamper a hostile takeover before accepting the deal, worth over $44 billion.

    But then it appears Musk spotted something in Twitter's latest filing to America's financial watchdog, the SEC. The paperwork asserted that "fewer than five percent" of Twitter's monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) in the first quarter of 2022 were fake or spammer accounts, which Musk objected to: he felt that figure should be a lot higher. He had earlier proclaimed that ridding Twitter of spam bots was a priority for him, post-takeover.

    Continue reading
  • Pentagon opens up about its database of 400 smudges that may or may not be UFOs
    'We're open to all hypotheses, we're open to any conclusions' says official

    A US House of Representatives subcommittee on Tuesday heard from Pentagon officials on reports of and investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) – a category that encompasses unidentified flying objects (UFO) and saves room for optical illusions, lens flare, smudges in photos, and other possibilities like meteorological events.

    The US military has researched UFOs in the past through initiatives like Project Blue Book (1947-1969), and the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) (2007-2012).

    Following a New York Times report in 2017 about the shutdown of the classified $22m AATIP program, public pressure and Congressional interest led the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last June to release a preliminary report on UAP [PDF] dating back to 2004.

    Continue reading
  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022