The Tick-Tock of Innovation

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) is on the losing end of a battle with mobile chip makers like ARM Holdings and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) . Recent earnings are flat and revenue is not growing very rapidly. The truth is, however, that Intel is actually at the forefront of chip manufacturing and design, making its stock a great value. The advantage of in-house manufacturing, the Tick-Tock R&D method, and strong financial position make this company better than rivals.

Tri-Gate Transistors
Intel runs the gambit of R&D, going from basic research to commercialization and manufacturing in house, an edge few companies have. A decade of research has led to the recent commercialization of the Tri-Gate transistor. The technology makes super-small 14 nm (and eventually even smaller) transistors possible. The smaller a manufacturer can get a transistor, the more data that can be fit onto a single chip, meaning faster processing.

Tri-Gate reduces the CPU's power requirement to function. How long before other companies can devise a method of making transistors smaller without the need for Intel's Tri-Gate technology is yet to be seen. Intel has actually manufactured working chips at a 14 nm transistor size. The company is in the process of going from manufacturing 22nm transistors to the industry-leading 14nm transistor size, which will draw customers and more revenue back to Intel.

System On a Chip
The System-on-a-Chip, or SoC, design, put an entire computing system onto a single chip. The graphics processor, power management, LTE, and GPS communication chips are all together. Intel's Atom processor has those pieces together to reduce power consumption and improve performance. These are the processors in phones and tablets that are usually ARM or Qualcomm architecture.

Intel was far behind with its SoC design, but has conclusively caught up to Qualcomm and ARM. That is why these improved mobile chips present a big growth opportunity. Expect Intel to start competing in the mobile phone and tablet business soon. Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and other big names are all planning to release a tablet before Christmas based on the new SoC chip.

Internet of Everything
Although Intel fell behind in the mobile computing sector, it jumped the line on the Internet of Everything market with the release of the Quark chipset. IoE is the idea that eventually everything, from watches to home coffee pots, will be connected to the Internet. We are already starting to see this concept develop with Nest's thermostat and Samsung's new Galaxy Gear watch.

The Quark is a miniaturized Intel Atom processor that uses 1/10th the power of its full-scale brother and will help make the world more connected. It also puts Intel squarely at the forefront of a nearly infinite market to bring connectivity to all consumer products. I expect big gains well into the future for Intel's earnings from these little innovations.

Tick Tock R & D
All of these advances are the fruit of Intel's "Tick-Tock" innovation cycle. The "Tick" cycle revamps the architecture and design of microchips. Then, it is followed by the "Tock" cycle that speeds up and shrinks the newest microchip. The two-year Tick-Tock cycle has kept Intel ahead of competitors in the PC and data center markets, and it will help the company overtake competitors in mobile SoC and the Internet of Everything.

A simple patent search on Intel and its competitors shows Intel far and away the better innovator of the group. Those innovations show how much potential Intel has in the future.

Patent data from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Whether it is the company's bread-and-butter of the PC market, or its up and coming advances in mobile, the chance for increased earnings is huge. Intel's strong financial position, large IP portfolio, and new market potential makes it a stock worth buying.

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  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2013, at 10:53 AM, jpanspac wrote:

    First, I think you meant to say "Intel runs the gamut of R&D".

    Second, the manufacturing process does not put data onto a chip; only transistors.

    Third, Intel has been in the tablet and smartphone businesses for over a year already. Ever heard of the Lenovo K900? The Orange San Diego? The Microsoft Surface Pro? Tablets by Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Sony?

    Fourth, you got the Tick and the Tock reversed. Tock is the new architecture, Tick is the shrink.

    Do your homework next time.

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