Japanese business magazine Nikkei Business News reports that a mighty pack of household-name technology firms have joined forces to create a groundbreaking new microprocessor standard. The all-star list of contributors includes Toshiba, Panasonic
But I'm not so sure the Japanese are out for Intel's blood. The new chip architecture is targeted at "a range of consumer electronics, servers, robots and cars" and will include innovative power management features. The development team is headed up by Dr. Hironori Kasahara, a professor at Waseda University whose research specializes in parallel computing -- running a program on several processors at once to improve performance.
The Japanese government will contribute a modest $40 million or so to the chip project, and the rest is up to Hitachi, Panasonic, and their cohorts. By the end of 2012, we should see shipping products. But even then, Intel shouldn't panic. Japan isn't really attacking its territory.
Yes, Intel and AMD already sell multi-core processors that work like a gaggle of separate chips, and that profligacy will only increase over the next few years. But the pair of American innovators likes to focus on desktop, laptop, and server systems more than on controllers for robots, cars, and consumer electronics. If there is an obvious rival for the Japanese collaboration, it would be ARM Holdings
And this is, after all, a new technology that probably won't be compatible with Intel's long-running x86 technology. I'd be surprised to see Toshiba selling laptops built around this new project, and you're not likely to get Microsoft
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in AMD, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.