Computex Taipei 2011 opens today with the expectation that more than 35,000 buyers from around the world will descend on Taipei to participate in Asia’s biggest IT trade show. About 1,800 global exhibitors, utilizing over 5,200 booths, up 8% from 2010, will hopefully supply up to US$23 billion in business as a result of the show.
And while Computex is first and foremost an event where IT buyers and suppliers can make deals and solidify relationships, it is also a major IT venue for industry leaders to jostle for mindshare. The hot topics this year include market trends such as color e-book readers, 3D Television and cloud computing, but it will be the tablet market that is expected to grab the main spotlight during the show this year.
The Apple iPad has created a surge in demand for tablet PCs, resulting in a situation where semiconductor firms focusing on x86 architecture – mainly Intel – will face off against ARM-based architecture vendors including Nvidia and Qualcomm, while competition in the software arenas will pit Microsoft and its upcoming Windows 8 operating system against Google Android and Chrome.
Intel to beat drum for tablet PCs
Intel executive vice president and Architecture Group general manager Sean Maloney will introduce Intel’s latest R&D and road map of product development as well as Intel’s competing strategies for tablet PCs and smartphones, market segments where Intel has not been able to claim a leadership position. In addition, corporate vice president and PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden, corporate vice president and Netbook and Tablet Group general manager Doug Davis as well as Software and Services vice president and System Software Division general manager Doug Fisher will disclose the company’s planning for their respective business units.
Intel is expected to showcase Oak Trail tablet PCs supporting MeeGo, Windows and Android as well as inexpensive netbook models and Chrome notebook PCs jointly developed by Google. Sandy Bridge models and Z68 motherboards developed by Intel’s Taiwan-based hardware partners will also be exhibited and Intel is expected to release details on its next-generation Ivy Bridge platform.
Intel will also exhibit the X79 chipset (code name Patsburg-HEDT) that will be offered in August 2011, with the chipset to match three 6-core and quad-core Sandy Bridge-E processors to form the Waimea Bay platform.
During Intel’s recent analyst day, the company indicated it would be making two major high level changes in its roadmap and those changes should be evident at the Computex show. The first initiative is a renewed focus on essentially reinventing its vision of the PC, one that was much more CE device oriented and featuring ultra-thin, ultra secure and ultra-responsive devices in its plan. The company is stressing features that put it into head-to-head competition with its rivals from the ARM camp, including features such as instant on, always on and always connected, as well as 10 hours of battery life.
While not directly conceding that it needs to better compete with ARM in the tablet segment, Intel most definitely reminded the world why it is the industry leader in the semiconductor industry with its second initiative, which is to accelerate its SoC development strategy. The company plans to halve its two-year process technology development cycle for SoCs for smartphones and tablets starting from 32nm products next year (Medfield) and then 22nm (Silvermont) products in 2013 and 14nm products (Airmont) in 2014, essentially doubling the speed of Moore’s Law to help the company improve its standing in the ultra-mobility market.
Even though Intel has yet to become a major player in the smartphone or tablet industry, the company has the resources and advantages in process technology to keeps its competitors from discounting the prospects of the chip giant. Moreover, Intel is quick to point out based on tablets on smartphones, it is the number one silicon vendor in the market in terms of profits, since every 600 smartphones sold and/or every 122 tablets sold creates the sale of a server, most likely a high-margin Intel product
AMD to showcase Llano
AMD unveiled Brazos, a low-power Fusion APU, in January 2011 and has shipped more than three million chips. AMD will exhibit Llano, its latest Fusion APU, at Computex 2011, with company senior vice president and chief marketing officer Nigel Dessau to introduce details on AMD’s most advanced architectures and technology.
Viewing that Brazos has successfully been adopted by Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Taiwan-based Acer and Asustek Computer for their notebook PCs, AMD will ship Llano to notebook PC vendors first in June and then to retail market in July. According to AMD internal estimates, monthly shipments of Llano will keep increasing from one million units in June to 1.5 million units in July and further to 8.0-9.0 million units at the end of 2011.
Made on a 32nm process, Llano has built-in graphics chip Radeon HD 6550 or 6450 which is functionally equivalent to the Nvidia GeForce GT 240. Liano motherboards equipped with Socket FM1 A75 chipset support Dual Graphics technology and related motherboard graphics performance can be increased by 80% using CrossFire.
There will be three series of Llano APUs for use in notebook PCs, that is, A6-3400M, A4-3300M and E2-3000M. AMD will soon unveil Llano APUs for use in desktop PCs which will include at least five A series and one E series.
AMD will also unveil its road maps of tablet PC architectures, and is cooperating with Microsoft to develop Windows 8-based platforms which will be released as early as the first quarter of 2012.
Nvidia Tegra 2 seeing booming demand
CEO and president Huang Jen-hsun will introduce Nvidia’s road maps of developing Tegra and architectures.
However, Nvidia’s possible participation in Microsoft’s Integrated Development Program specifically for developing Windows 8 is expected to be the question that the media will be asking.
Absent from Computex in 2007-2010, Nvidia will return to the IT event this year to showcase the achievement of Tegra 2, including applications to tablet PCs, smartphones and automotive electronics as well as release quad-core processors and Project Denver. Nvidia plans to unveil quad-core Tegra 3 (Project Kal-El) in the second half of 2011, Tegra 4 (Wayne) in 2012, Tegra 5 (Logan) in 2013 and Tegra 6 (Stark) in 2014.
ARM president Tudor Brown
ARM president Tudor Brown and executive vice president of marketing Ian Drew will introduce ARM’s business outlook and performance of ARM architectures used in tablet PCs and handsets. In addition, ARM will showcase new ARM-based devices developed by hardware partners.