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2013 CPU Outlook: The Next Opportunity


Granted the headlines for the past couple of years have been declaring the death of the PC, long live the tablet, phablet, smartphone or whatever smart wireless device. Yet, judging by the market release expectations from Intel, AMD, and ARM, coupled with CES 2013 news and insights, the latest round of CPUs is set to be a real game-changer. As 2012 closed, open market activity for CPUs was quiet. Here at the beginning of 2013, consistent with typical demand cycles, we are seeing a continued soft market which we expect to continue until after Chinese New Year.


Intel, for example, is forecasting a March to June 2013 release of their Haswell CPUs. The latest platforms built around the Haswell microarchitecture will use only one-twentieth (1/20) of the power of today's most energy efficient, low power platforms. This type of efficiency does more than simply improve battery life (and decrease weight!), it will open the door for increasingly powerful performance all around in devices built on these platforms.

AMD is important to watch as well this year. It was only last year that they became an ARM licensee, meaning that we expect 2013 to be the year that AMD will integrate ARM cores into future APUS. AMD also showcased AMD Face Login and the AMD Gesture Control interface for Windows based systems at CES this year. They are pushing a “More Cores, More Speed, Less Money,” campaign to highlight the FX architecture, which is codenamed “Piledriver.” All of the new AMD FX Processors come unlocked with no premium to pay and no code to input. They are just an unrestrained, over-clockable processor ready to perform.

Qualcomm has also garnered quite a bit of attention and success with its Snapdragon processors for smartphones and tablets. The Snapdragon S4 integrates connectivity, graphics processing, and CPU into a single chip. With tablets and smartphones based on both Windows and Android, Qualcomm has positioned the Snapdragon S4 to be the “marvel of mobile performance.”

Beyond the biggest names, there are the up-and-coming competitors to be mindful of. Notably, Loongson in China is pushing the envelope and is likely to be a keen competitor to Intel, AMD, and ARM in 2013. Loongson are producing MIPS-based CPUS that are even more power-efficient than ARM. They already have 50w class CPUs in 32nm process nodes, such as the 8-core vector enhanced Loongson 3B-1500.

All in all, just when you might have believed the mainstream industry news that PCs were down for the count, what's inside is changing everything and attracting the healthy competition that will inspire the next generation of offerings to watch for in 2013.

Juline Longo, CPU Commodity Manager
Written on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 15:56 by Juline Longo, CPU Commodity Manager

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