Chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is on track to generate in the vicinity of $62 billion in revenue in 2017 due almost entirely to the sale of processors.
The company's portfolio of processors is quite broad, spanning from products that go into ultra-low-power notebooks all the way to the world's most powerful supercomputers. The breadth of the company's portfolio is enabled by the company's gargantuan research and development budget, which nearly topped $10 billion during the first three quarters of the year alone.
Intel is a chip juggernaut and, at its best, it builds some truly awe-inspiring products.
Next year, unfortunately, is probably going to be a little light on potentially impressive products -- many of the releases I'm really looking forward to are set for 2019 rather than 2018.
Nevertheless, Intel still has some good stuff coming next year. Here are two products I'm particularly eager to see from Chipzilla in 2018.
1. Coffee Lake-H
Back in October 2017, Intel released its first six-core processors for its mainstream desktop product line, known as Coffee Lake-S. Until then, Intel's best mainstream desktop processors sported just four processor cores, so the 50% boost in core count was certainly welcome.
Early in 2018, Intel is expected to bring out a product known as Coffee Lake-H -- it's essentially the same chip as Coffee Lake-S, but adapted for use in more thermally restricted notebook personal computers.
I think Coffee Lake-H will prove to be a compelling product in performance-sensitive areas, such as the fast-growing gaming notebook computer market. Games are increasingly able to make use of more processor cores, so laptops with six high-performance cores should be well received in the market, especially if computer vendors properly market systems with these chips inside.
2. XMM 7560
Back in the second half of 2016, teardown reports of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) then-new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus revealed that some versions of the device included cellular modems supplied by Intel. This design win helped to put Intel's cellular modem business on the map after many years of painful revenue declines and significant financial losses, and the partnership continued with this year's iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.
Next year, Intel is expected to release a new cellular modem known as the XMM 7560. This modem differs from the prior-generation modems that Intel supplied to Apple in two important ways:
- The XMM 7560 includes support for CDMA networks, unlike previous Intel modems. This means that Apple can use the XMM 7560 in all of its iPhones if it so chooses rather than just in a subset of the phones sold onto non-CDMA networks.
- The XMM 7560 is manufactured by Intel using its 14-nanometer manufacturing technology rather than by a third-party on a dated 28-nanometer manufacturing technology. This should help XMM 7560 to be more competitive than prior-generation modems were in terms of power efficiency and, possibly, performance.
The improved competitiveness of the XMM 7560 coupled with the ongoing legal spat between Apple and its other modem supplier could allow Intel to substantially grow its modem share at Apple.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, thinks Intel is poised to win 70%-80% modem share inside of the next iPhone.
XMM 7560, then, could prove to be the big growth driver for Intel's cellular modem business in the second half of 2018 and in the first half of 2019.