Intel Corporation’s Broadwell-DE Helps Keep the ARMy at Bay

Intel's upcoming Broadwell-DE will help the company push back against the incoming assault from ARM-based server chip players.

Jun 6, 2014 at 8:00AM

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has been moving extremely aggressively following the flurry of announcements from ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) licensees claiming that they will be going aggressively after the server processor market. Intel is the clear market leader in server processors, but upstarts like Cavium (NASDAQ: CAVM) and server veterans of yore like Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) are getting more aggressive. Can Intel hold off the assault with market-specific products?

Atom & Xeon mount a pincer attack
Take a look at Intel's public roadmap for server-oriented system-on-chip products, and you'll see that the company has two distinct product lines: one based on the lower power/lower performance Atom and another based on the higher power/higher performance Core processors.

Public

Source: Intel

Now, this road map tells us vague launch time frames, but the point here is that Intel is not going to leave any potential market segment exposed. If the customer wants a low-power system-on-chip with a lot of small cores, then Avoton/Denverton will be the right solution. However, if fewer, more powerful cores integrated in a system-on-chip float the customer's boat, then Broadwell SoC (known as Broadwell-DE) and its follow-ons will be the right product.

What might a Broadwell-DE look like?
Unfortunately, Intel has not given any public information about Broadwell-DE, but import data on Zauba lists a "Broadwell DE 8," which seems to hint that at least one of the variants will sport eight cores. Further, given that the current generation Atom server system-on-chip integrates Ethernet, PCIe, serial ATA, USB, and in some cases a cryptography accelerator, it stands to reason that Broadwell-DE will integrate at least that level of functionality.

But given that Intel is probably building this chip in order to counter the various efforts from the likes of Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD), it will likely need to include more dedicated offload engines. For example, the Seattle chip from AMD includes a number of dedicated offload engines that handle compression/decompression. From a general purpose CPU perspective, however, an eight core Broadwell should be best in class for the late 2014/2015 time frame.

How will Intel defend its share?
The obvious worry for Intel investors is just how the company will defend its share in the server market with the flurry of competitors coming online. Well, the intuitive answer is that Intel's R&D budget is much larger than that of most of its competitors and it has much more experience in the data center, which in itself should be a fairly large moat. But another major advantage is the company's manufacturing lead.

Note that Intel will be shipping 14-nanometer FinFET server parts in late 2014/early 2015, while competitors such as Cavium and even AMD will likely be stuck on 28-nanometer throughout 2015 and probably at least part-way into 2016. By the time these companies can ramp on 14/16 FinFET from the various foundries, Intel will have likely transitioned to the 10-nanometer node, once again giving it a density and power/performance advantage. This is not to mention that Intel's 14-nanometer process should offer a meaningful density edge over the foundries' processes.

The way to win is ultimately to offer the best performance per total cost of ownership, and Intel has been the clear leader for quite some time. In order for a competitor to take meaningful share from Intel, any competitor will need to demonstrate a fairly substantial edge over Intel's parts. Right now, it's unlikely that a competitor will match what Intel is doing in general purpose servers, let alone exceed.

Foolish bottom line
Intel's place in the data center is very hard won and based on years of very large R&D investments and smart business moves. While nothing is impossible and disruption by a smaller player could happen, it really is important to stand back and see that Intel has executed very well in this arena and continues to do so today. Just like the mobile system-on-chip market, where everybody thought that they could be the next Intel, many of these server chip upstarts are likely to see that trying to go head-to-head with an established, highly profitable market leader is far more difficult than initially believed. 

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of ARM Holdings and Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

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.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

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. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of 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. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers