Final Words

Silvermont really is Intel’s Conroe for the mobile market, but not in the sense that many have been expecting. Given that success in mobile is so closely tied to device wins, Silvermont alone isn’t enough. Unlike Conroe, a very competitive Silvermont won’t change the world overnight. What Silvermont does however is offer a great foundation for Intel going forward. Conroe lead to Penryn, Nehalem, Westmere, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and soon, Haswell. It was the platform that Intel could build on regularly by executing on tick-tock. Conroe paved the way for the insane advantage Intel has held onto for the past few years. Silvermont is like Conroe in that it provides that same foundation.

The mobile market is far more competitive than the PC industry was back when Conroe hit. There isn’t just one AMD but many competitors in the SoC space that are already very lean and fast moving. There’s also the fact that Intel doesn’t have tremendous marketshare in ultra mobile. Silvermont may feel a lot like Conroe, but the market it’s competing in is very different. That’s not to say that Intel can’t be successful here; it’s just not going to be easy.

Architecturally Silvermont is very conservative, and that’s not a bad thing. A side effect of not wanting to make Haswell irrelevant by a far lower cost part is the benefit of maintaining power efficiency. Intel joins the ranks of Apple and Qualcomm in intelligently scaling performance while respecting power consumption. Intel’s 22nm process should give Silvermont a lot of runway to use. If it can quickly follow up with 14nm, Silvermont’s power advantage could end up being akin to Conroe’s performance advantage in the mid-2000s.

Even so, Silvermont is long overdue. It’s the first mobile architecture where Intel really prioritized smartphones and tablets, and on paper, it looks very good. Now it’s up to Intel to turn a great architecture into great design wins. From what I’m hearing, we may actually see that happen.

Tablet Expectations & Performance
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  • althaz - Monday, May 6, 2013 - link

    I don't think you fully grasp the situation. Whilst Intel definitely can (and realistically should) take a strong leadership position in the mobile sector, companies like Qualcomm aren't going anywhere - Intel still won't (be able to?) compete on price, which means even if they take the lions-share of the market, there will be enough left for others to survive (they'll be a lot better off than AMD who sells more-expensive-to-manufacture chips for cheaper that perform worse and use more power).

    Although I wouldn't be too confident about nVidia, as they are yet to show they can compete with the likes of Qualcomm, let alone Intel.
    Reply
  • R0H1T - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    They most certainly will not "take the lions-share of the market" because that belongs to the ultra thin margin chipmakers like Mediatek/Allwinner that deliver quad core ARM v7 based SoC in that 10~20$ range where Intel will not & cannot compete because of their relatively high(er) cost structure ! Reply
  • Khato - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    This is an argument that never makes sense to me. Yes, Intel won't go into a market unless the margins make it worthwhile... but do you not realize how cheap it is for Intel to make value processors on a deprecated node? Remember, Allwinner and Mediatek may operate on ultra thin margins, but that's in large part because the majority of the margins on their product go to the foundry they use. aka, when all the high end products are using Airmont cores Intel can keep making use of their 22nm capacity for awhile churning out 'old' Silvermont based products for the value market and simply get closer to the 'operating point' margin for that node. Reply
  • R0H1T - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - link

    I can't say how much TSMC charges for those chips but from what I know the single biggest cost of operations for Intel, outside of their R&D spending & foundry equipment upgrades, must be manpower & the difference between a Chinese/Taiwanese firm vs Intel in this particular dept would be a major one ! This is the real cost advantage that most smaller firms enjoy vis-a-vis Intel & for the foreseeable future they'll continue with this advantage. Reply
  • xTRICKYxx - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    I didn't feel like this article is Intel PR crap. I read it all and I looked at all the improvements that are inbound; and I couldn't help but feel excited about Silvermont just like Anand.

    I cannot wait to see some benchmarks in the next few months.
    Reply
  • Silma - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    On lack of AMD's comparison: there is nothing to compare and while one should tread cautiously with Intel's slides one should not tread at all with AMD's slides because AMD has a huge legacy of promises not held - how many time did we hear it would catch up in notebook or desktops, in performance or performance/watt. While Intel disappoints from time to time (Pentium 4) AMD disappoints most of the time, its last interesting product was the Opteron. Like most companies without vision it ends up doing stupid mergers instead of concentrating on core business.

    On Intel vs ARM. Silvermont looks promising but Intel needs to accelerate its roadmap. At the end of the year it probably won't compete against a 28nm A15. Qualcomm will not sleep for a year. Also it will have to invest heavily into marketing and OEM incentives if it seriously wants a share of the mobile pile. Will shareholders
    Reply
  • ET - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    I'm excited. A 7-8" full Windows tablet with decent performance would be very neat. I'll wait to see what performance this gets in games. I don't need much, just enough to run adventure games and such. Reply
  • R0H1T - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    Then get ready to shell out upwards of 500$ /: Reply
  • pensive69 - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    can't stand getting a partially functioning market focused 'hack' on a cellphone.
    if the 22nm drill provides a full computer in a smaller form then factor me in!
    i don't care which firm does it...like those kids in the commercial
    we just want more we want more :).
    love it.
    Reply
  • Laststop311 - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - link

    this chip will have to pull off a miracle to drive full windows 8 and the everyday apps people use. Seems like it's going to average maybe slightly over 2x performance. That seems like a lot but when you see how poor current atoms are double that performance still is not enough. Does have potential in android phones/tablets and windows 8 phones/tablets as long as it's windows rt on the tablet. Atom still is not good enough for full windows 8 Reply

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