Photo: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer
Photo: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer

Larry Dignan writes at ZDNet that the semiconductor pecking order may be in for a big shakeup

“Let’s think through the moving parts:

  • Apple, Microsoft and Google are working on their own processors to handle artificial intelligence and other workloads. The goal is to crunch the algorithms without going to the cloud for answers.
  • Big data and AI workloads as well as high performance computing and analytics are increasingly revolving around GPUs. This movement has made Nvidia a key enterprise player and breathed more life into AMD. Nvidia shares have been on fire.
  • Intel is transitioning from PCs to data centers and Internet of things. The catch is that Intel is best known for its CPUs, but it’s also worth noting that the chip giant’s purchase of Altera has given it customized processors that can be programmed. These programmable chips are also being used for AI and other novel workloads. Intel processors are also powering the cloud providers in many cases, but the chip giant arguably has the most to lose.
  • Qualcomm has had a rough few months and its licensing model is under fire due to a lawsuit from Apple and others. Just a few years ago, Qualcomm was often seen as the next Intel. Qualcomm dominates in mobile devices and has autonomous car and server plays in the works.
  • AMD could serve as a counterweight to both Intel and Nvidia. Data centers love secondary suppliers and AMD is seeing solid demand. Meanwhile, AMD’s desktop and server efforts can impact Intel.
  • ARM made its name in mobile, but could be a threat for servers. ARM, the intellectual property behind most mobile processors, is also likely to be a key player in the Internet of things scrum. The jury is out on ARM in the data center.”