Intel Fumbles Its 64-Bit Smartphone Advantage

With Qualcomm now out with a complete, top-to-bottom 64-bit apps processor stack, Intel completely blows the early lead it had to capitalize on its 64-bit marketing point.

Apr 7, 2014 at 11:39PM

When Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched its A7 system-on-a-chip for its iPhone and iPad, the race to 64-bit was on. Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), the leader in mobile chips, was caught completely off guard -- it's clear that the company didn't expect to need to launch a 64-bit core until late 2015 or early 2016. This opened up a gaping opportunity for Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) to exploit with its 64-bit-capable Atom chips. Unfortunately, Intel failed to take advantage this key marketing point, as its products were late and ill-suited for their target markets.  

Merrifield DOA, Moorefield too late, and Bay Trail MIA
Intel has had three perfectly good, potentially game-changing products in the pipeline to finally gain some real traction against the ARM Holdings guys (in particular, Qualcomm):

  1. Bay Trail.
  2. Merrifield.
  3. Moorefield.

All three of these products were based on the 64-bit Intel Silvermont processor core, and all of them offer some pretty solid performance and excellent power consumption. Unfortunately, while these are good products, the launch timing of these parts pretty significantly damaged their competitiveness. Merrifield was officially "launched" at the Mobile World Congress, but not a single design win based on this part has been announced. Moorefield is more competitive, but it's unlikely to gain meaningful traction at tier-1 handset vendors, as the Snapdragon 801 is a better, more integrated chip that's here today. 


ASUS, Dell, and Lenovo have signed on to use Intel's parts, but it's not enough to move the needle. Source: Intel. 

Bay Trail has done well on Windows 8.1 tablets, but it's completely missing from Android. The good news is that there are designs that have been announced from the China Technology Ecosystem (for example, the beautiful Teclast X98), but the designs are still few and far between. They'll come eventually -- they need to for Intel to hit that 40 million tablet unit target -- but it's been frustrating to see the company sluggish in bringing this platform to Android.

64-bit selling point? Yeah, Qualcomm's already plugged that hole
The big selling point that Intel could have had with its chips is that its chips were 64-bit capable well ahead of the ARM guys. This could have been the impetus to drive software vendors to treat X86-64 as a first-class citizen on Android, and it could have been a chance for Intel to prove to the handset OEMs that it could deliver when needed -- building trust and relationships with key partners.


These Intel-powered phones, slated to launch in April, are still based on the old Clover Trail+ platform. Source: ASUS. 

But no. Qualcomm has prepared a complete stack of 64-bit, highly integrated system-on-a-chip products, from the ultra-high end Snapdragon 810 to the lowly Snapdragon 410. This was done by leveraging ARM's 64-bit processor, IP as Qualcomm didn't quite have a custom 64-bit core ready to go for the timeframe of these product launches. So Qualcomm has effectively neutralized the "64-bit" selling point for Intel. 

Maybe next time
Talk is cheap, and "buzzword" advantages in the high-tech world are usually short lived. While Intel continues to make significant progress with its mobile products and will probably eventually be a very strong competitor to Qualcomm, it's probably not going to be this year. Qualcomm won all of the designs in phones that mattered and so far seems to have scored some pretty tasty tablet designs to boot. Intel, on the other hand, still needs to show investors that it can execute.

Intel might be late to mobile, but you can get in early on this revolutionary new technology
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now, for just a fraction of the price of Apple stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel and owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers