Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite Unveiled: ARM-based SoC for Windows-powered AI PCs

  • Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite SoC targets the AI PC market as the PC market bottoms out.
  • Made on TSMC’s 4nm process node, the new Snapdragon X Elite features a powerful 12-core Oryon CPU.
  • Between the Oryon CPU, Adreno GPU, and the Hexagon NPU, the Snapdragon X Elite can deliver up to 75 TOPS of AI computing performance.

Qualcomm announced its latest Snapdragon X Elite compute platform at the 2023 Snapdragon Summit held in Hawaii on October 24-26, during which the company also launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile platform. The Snapdragon X Elite is an ARM-based processor designed for personal computers and aims at delivering powerful performance and better power efficiency along with cutting-edge on-device generative AI features.

Qualcomm looking to expand its ARM SoC Smartphone Success to the PC Platform

Based on its brand-new ARM CPU core ‘Oryon’, developed from its Nuvia acquisition, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite SoC is built on TSMC’s 4nm process node. The CPU uses ARM’s 8.7 instruction set and features 12 high-performance ‘Oryon’ cores clocked at 3.8GHz. There is also a dual-core boost feature offering peak clock speeds of up to 4.3GHz. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon X Elite can offer 2x faster CPU performance than the competition while consuming one-third of the power.

counterpoint qualcomm snapdragon x elite cpu config
Source: Qualcomm

Combined with 136GB/s LPDDR5x memory bandwidth, and up to a total of 42MB cache, including three 12MB L2 cache, and the remaining 6MB shared with the overall CPU. The SoC comes with an integrated Adreno GPU as well as Hexagon NPU and sensing hub to enable multiple AI functions. This is effectively moving AI inferencing to the network edge (laptop). The Adreno GPU supports DirectX, OpenCL, and Vulcan APIs.

Built for on-device AI experiences, the Hexagon NPU can deliver peak AI computing performance of 45 TOPS, which Qualcomm claims is 4.5 times faster than the competition. And between the CPU, GPU, and NPU, the SoC can offer peak AI computing performance of 75 TOPS.

The SoC was designed to run large language models on-device, with up to 13 billion parameters, thus offering the claimed fastest Stable Diffusion performance by a laptop chip on the market. It can generate 30 tokens per second for seven billion large language models (LLMs).

counterpoint qualcomm snapdragon x elite specs at a glance
Source: Qualcomm

The SoC is designed in a way that it can be used on laptops, tablets, and even desktop PCs. Qualcomm showcased a 12W fanless reference design, along with 23W, 45W, and even the one with 80W thermal design power (TDP). TDP measures the maximum amount of heat produced by the chip in terms of watts.

PC vendors including Lenovo, HP, Dell, Microsoft, and Acer are all working to bring Snapdragon X Elite-powered laptops to the market by mid-2024.

WATCH: “AI PC” Era Beckons with Snapdragon X Elite: Deep Dive with Qualcomm’s Kedar Kondap

Snapdragon X Elite Benchmarks Show Impressive Gains over Apple Silicon, Intel and AMD Processors

At the Snapdragon Summit, we also had an opportunity to take a sneak peek at the Snapdragon X Elite benchmarking, where Qualcomm tested the SoC on both Windows and Linux (using Geekbench 6.2). Cinebench, UL Procyon AI, Wildlife Extreme, Aztec Ruins, and PC Mark were some of the other popular benchmarks on which the Snapdragon X Elite was tested.

counterpoint qualcomm snapdragon x elite benchmark configs
Source: Qualcomm

The reference design laptops were loaded with some popular benchmarks to show how they performed over the competition. There were two TDP configurations — Config A laptop with 80W max and Config B laptop with 23W.

Below are some of the scores that Qualcomm shared:

counterpoint qualcomm snapdragon x elite benchmarks
Source: Qualcomm

ARM-based Laptops to Further Gain Share at x86’s Expense

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite SoC was built completely on an ARM IP structure, instead of the long-lasting x86 IP structure in the PC industry, which supports our view of the double-digit YoY percentage growth in ARM-based laptop shipments.

counterpoint ai pc market forecast

After Microsoft and Qualcomm’s exclusive agreement to develop ARM-based Windows-compatible chips expires in 2024, we are expecting more chip vendors to enter the market and that will make the PC market more competitive. Intel could face more challenges to its long-lasting dominance in the PC CPU market.

We believe there are still challenges for the ARM-based PC ecosystem and apps/software support. Software developers have spent decades and billions of dollars writing code for Windows that runs on the x86 architecture. Even if Microsoft smoothly migrates its Windows software portfolio to ARM-based processors, it could take a lot of time for the ARM-based ecosystem to see similar migrations and maturity.

AI PC to Drive Another Wave of Shipment Growth in 2024

In 2023, PC OEMs and chip vendors are all dedicated to developing products/solutions for the AI universe. Over the past five quarters, PC OEMs have been working hard to resolve inventory issues and had a hard time searching for a new growth engine for the PC business. Now, the AI PC market is witnessing a surge, underpinned by Intel and Qualcomm’s new PC CPU platform, which is just around the corner. These AI-enabled PC models will likely be available around mid-2024.

We now expect AI PCs to have an over 50% 10-year CAGR from 2020, and after 2026, they will dominate the PC market. Intel, Qualcomm, and other PC CPU makers are working closely with PC OEMs toward the next-generation mainstream models, marking a new chapter for the PC industry.

Intel’s 14th-gen ‘Raptor Lake Refresh’ Processors Offer up to 6GHz Clock Speeds, Wi-Fi 7, AI-guided Overclocking, and More

  • Intel’s 14th-gen desktop processors offer up to 24 cores, 32 threads, and up to 6GHz peak clock speed.
  • The new Intel 14th-gen “Raptor Lake Refresh” processors offer enhanced gaming performance, AI-guided overclocking support, and advanced connectivity features like Wi-Fi 7, Thunderbolt 4, and 5.
  • The processors are backward compatible with 600/700 series motherboards and will be available in retail and via OEM partners from starting October 17, 2023, starting at $294.

Intel has launched its latest 14th-generation desktop processors, with the portfolio headlined by the Core i9-14900K – the first mass-produced processor with up to 6GHz clock speed out of the box. Like the 13th-generation Raptor Lake, the new “Raptor Lake Refresh” is made on an Intel 7 (10nm) process node, using the same die, with differences coming in the core count, higher clock speeds, advanced connectivity options and AI assist feature among others.

There are six new desktop processors in the family, including the Core i9-14900K/KF, the Core i7-14700K/KF, and the Core i5-14600K/KF. The K models come with an integrated GPU, while the KF models do not feature any integrated GPU and are slightly more affordable. Available starting October 17, these processors maintain the same pricing as last year’s processors.

Talking about Intel’s 14th-gen desktop processors, Counterpoint Research Senior Analyst William Li, who tracks the PC market said, “Intel’s new desktop CPU solutions could boost not only hardware capabilities to deal with incremental computing power requirements but also improve user experience with Intel Application Optimization (APO) technology. Although this time the Core 14th-gen desktop processors do not have huge upgrades as on laptop platforms, gamers and creators can still enjoy better computing performance without compromising user workflow with Intel’s solid achievement on overclocking. We believe that the global PC market has bottomed out in H2 2023 and will likely see a significant rebound in the next year largely due to the Windows 11 replacement cycle and Artificial Intelligence (AI) PC momentum.”

Intel 14th-gen ‘Raptor Lake Refresh’ Processors: Specifications

 Aimed at gamers and creators, the Intel Core i9-14900K/KF offers clock speeds of up to 6GHz. The processor has a 24-core CPU, including eight Performance (P) cores with a max Turbo frequency of up to 5.6GHz and 16 Efficiency (E) cores with a max Turbo frequency of up to 4.4GHz, and has a total of 32 processor threads. It also includes a 36MB L3 cache and 32MB L2 cache.

Meanwhile, the Intel Core i7-14700K/KF has a 20-core CPU, with eight P-cores, with a max Turbo frequency of up to 5.5GHz, and 12 E-cores (up from eight cores in the previous gen), with a max Turbo clock speed of up to 4.3GHz and has a total of 28 threads. It also comes with a 33MB L3 cache and 28MB L2 cache.

counterpoint intel 14th gen raptor lake refresh specifications
Source: Intel

Lastly, the Intel Core i5-14600K has a 14-core CPU, with six P-cores having a max Turbo frequency of up to 5.3GHz, and eight E-cores having a max Turbo clock speed of up to 4.0GHz and, has a total of 20 threads. It also comes with a 24MB L3 cache and 20MB L2 cache.

All six processors in the Intel 14th-gen family offer a max memory speed of up to 5600MT/s (DDR5), and up to 3,200MT/s (DDR4). The K models also include Intel UHD Graphics 770, with dynamic frequency between 1,650MHz to 1,550MHz, depending on the model.

In terms of backward compatibility, all the new processors will work with Intel’s 600- and 700-series motherboards that use LGA 1700 sockets, thus enabling easier upgrades for users.

AI Overclocking, Connectivity Enhancements, and more

One of the standout features of the latest 14th-gen processors is the new AI Assist feature in the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU). It provides users with one-click AI-guided overclocking on select unlocked desktop processors. As users receive step-by-step instructions, even someone without experience can easily overclock the processors. It signifies Intel’s commitment to delivering top-tier performance for desktop enthusiasts.

There are also new gaming-focused features like Intel Application Optimization (APO) that enhance application threading to optimize speed and frame rate for smooth and consistent gaming performance. It is enabled by default, but users can also disable it, or enable it only for certain games. Intel also mentioned that the APO is only for games and does not work with benchmarks. Then there is also the Intel Thread Director which optimizes application thread scheduling.

counterpoint intel 14th gen raptor lake refresh connectivity
Source: Intel

But that’s not all – currently, most people work in a hybrid environment, and mostly via calls on different platforms. The AI Boost feature allows users to make video calls keeping them in focus while blurring distractions from the background. The AI can also reduce ambient background noise, focusing on the user’s voice to offer crisp and clear sound on calls.

Counterpoint Research Senior Analyst Akshara Bassi, who tracks HPCs, Cloud, and Server market said, “Intel has introduced AI features for its Extreme Tuning Facility (XTU) that help in AI-assisted overclocking for the 14th-gen processors (limited SKUs) and through the Application Optimization Program, it has introduced automatic thread performance while gaming.”

Connectivity is another area where the new desktop processors shine, with integrated support for Wi-Fi 6/6E and Bluetooth 5.3, as well as discrete support for Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4. The new processors also include support for Thunderbolt 4 and the upcoming Thunderbolt 5 wired connectivity, offering up to 80 Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth.

“From a technical perspective, the Intel Core-i9 14900K is the first chip in volume to hit 6Ghz, with support for Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4,” Bassi added.

In terms of pricing, the premium Core i9-14900K will be available for $564, the Core i7-1700K for $384, and the Core i5-14600K will start at $294.

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Vision Pro, iOS 17, New Macs: Here’s Everything Announced at Apple WWDC 2023

  • Despite the Vision Pro’s steep $3,499 price point, Apple has still managed to create a “wow” factor. The device goes on sale early next year.
  • The MacBook Air 15 with a thin and light profile but a bigger screen size could be an ideal option for content creators on the go.
  • By bringing Apple Silicon to the Mac Pro, Apple has completed its transition from Intel, giving it more control over the hardware and software stack.
  • Updates to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and WatchOS bring minor improvements, but the personalization and interactive widgets show a more consistent approach to user experience across Apple products.

Apple hosted its annual worldwide developer conference (WWDC 2023) at Apple Park, California, from June 5 to June 9, during which it announced exciting new hardware and software launches. These included fresh devices such as the new MacBook Air, Mac Studio Gen-2, and Mac Pro with M2 Ultra SoC, alongside the latest iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, tvOS 17, and WatchOS 10. However, the star of the show was Apple’s hotly anticipated mixed-reality headset, called the ‘Vision Pro’, which took our breath away.

Here is a quick recap of everything Apple announced at WWDC 2023.

Hardware announcements

Apple’s ‘Vision Pro’ mixed-reality headset is finally here

“One more thing…” – this has been synonymous with every major announcement that Apple has made over the past decade, and WWDC 2023 was no different. After months of leaks and rumors, Apple finally unveiled its “revolutionary” new product, the Vision Pro, along with its mixed-reality platform, the VisionOS. Apple has its sights on the next decade and beyond with the Vision Pro, which will be available for sale early next year.

Source: Apple

Pioneering the era of spatial computing, the cutting-edge Vision Pro is powered by an M2 processor along with a custom R1 co-processor for real-time processing. It features a micro-OLED display with 4K resolution per eye. It has 12 cameras, six microphones and five sensors to offer an immersive overall experience.

ALSO READ: Apple Thinking About the Next Decade and Beyond with Vision Pro Announcement

Users can control the Vision Pro UI with their eyes, voice and hands. As the headset allows for video pass-through, you are not isolated, and you can still see and interact with the people around you. The cameras let you capture 3D photos so you can relive those moments later. You can also turn your laptop screen into a giant display, giving you an unlimited canvas, so you are no longer limited by a display. All your apps can be used anywhere, and you can even resize them. There are many amazing features that Apple demonstrated at WWDC and will continue to refine them ahead of the start of sales early next year. The Apple Vision Pro is priced at a whopping $3,499.

WATCH: Apple Vision Pro Mixed Reality Headset: Quick Look at Key Features

MacBook Air gets bigger, better and more powerful

Though WWDC is a software event, it was dominated by hardware announcements this year, starting with the Mac. The new MacBook Air 15 is incredibly thin at 11.5mm, with Apple claiming it to be the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop. It weighs 3.3 pounds, and features two Type-C thunderbolt ports, MagSafe charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It comes with a 15.3-inch liquid retina display with thin bezels, 500 nits of peak brightness and one billion colors.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 macbook air 15
Source: Apple

For video calls, the laptop includes a 1080p camera, three-array mics and six speakers so you can hear and be heard loud and clear. Under the hood is an M2 chip which Apple says is 12x faster than the Intel-based MacBook Air and is efficient enough to offer up to 18 hours of battery life. The new 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,299 ($1,199 for education) and will be available from the third week of June.

Source: Apple

The 13-inch MacBook Air now starts at $1,099, making it cheaper than before by $100. Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Air M1 retains its $999 price tag, giving users more choices when looking for a MacBook Air.

Mac Studio gets more powerful with M2 Ultra

 The Mac Studio is loved by all types of creators, be it for editing photos, videos, podcasts or even presentations. It is now getting a big upgrade with the powerful M2 Max SoC, which Apple says is 25% faster than the previous M1 Max. Apple continued with the stats, saying video editors can now render videos 50% faster on Adobe After Effects.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 mac studio pc overview
Source: Apple

Apple also announced the M2 Ultra SoC, which connects two M2 Max die together with ultra-fusion architecture to double the performance. It comes with a 24-core CPU to offer 20% faster CPU performance, and its 76-core GPU is 30% faster than M1 Ultra. There is also a 32-core Neural engine which is 40% faster than the previous generation. It supports 192GB of unified memory. Built on a 5nm process node, it has 134 billion transistors and 800GBs of memory bandwidth. The Mac Studio with M2 Ultra can support six pro display XDR monitors.

Source: Apple

Apple Silicon comes to Mac Pro, completing the transition from Intel       

For those heavy and demanding workflows of film editors and sound engineers, Apple is bringing its Apple Silicon with PCI expansion to the Mac Pro. This also completes the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon. Powered by M2 Ultra SoC, the Mac Pro comes with eight thunderbolt ports – two on the front and six at the back. There are six PCI expansion slots too, allowing users to customize their Mac by adding audio/video IO, networking and storage.

Source: Apple

The Mac Studio will start at $1,999 with M2 Max SoC, whereas the Mac Pro will start at $6,999. They will be available from the third week of June.

 Software announcements    

iOS 17 gets more personalized and intuitive

With the iOS 17, Apple is bringing new experiences, better communication and sharing to iPhone users. For Apple ecosystem users, Phone, iMessage and FaceTime are the three essential apps for everyday communication. The Phone app now comes with personalized contact posters where you can either have a photo or emoji. Apple also supports the vertical layout for Japanese text. And it is not just for calling, this new visual identity is also a part of the contact card for a more consistent experience.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 ios 17 personalized contact poster
Source: Apple

The next feature is Live Voicemail, where you can see the transcription of the recipient. If you think it is important, you can answer right away. The feature is like Bixby text calls on Samsung smartphones. Apple is also bringing voicemails to FaceTime. When you call someone on FaceTime and they are not available, you can leave a video voicemail instead.

Messages now have search filters. So next time you start a search, include additional words to incorporate filters. This will help you find exactly what you are looking for. Now, there are times when you are in a meeting or traveling and there is a whole bunch of conversation that you missed. There is a new catch-up arrow on the top right which will let you quickly jump to the first message you haven’t seen.

Other key messaging features of the iOS 17 include:

  • Swipe on the bubble for quick in-line replies
  • Audio message transcription
  • In-line location within the conversation
  • Check-in to keep in touch with your loved ones
  • Besides location, you can also share battery level and cellular service status

All the information shared with your family and friends is also end-to-end encrypted.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 ios 17 check-in feature
Source: Apple

Next, Apple is also bringing a better Stickers experience. All the recently used stickers and memoji are now available in a brand-new drawer. You can even peel and stick emoji stickers in the conversation, and even rotate and resize them. These stickers are available systemwide, so you can use them with any app.

Apple is also changing the way we share contact details with someone new. A new feature called NameDrop lets you bring your phones closer and share phone numbers and other contact details with the person. The feature can be used with an iPhone and Apple Watch too. But that’s not all, you can now AirDrop content over the internet too.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 ios 17 standby
Source: Apple

There is also a new standby mode. It can be activated by turning the iPhone in landscape mode while charging. It will turn your phone into a desk clock displaying the time, date, weather and alarm information at a glance. You can add widgets and even customize the screen with different clock styles to fit your needs.

Apple had made the assistant hot word even simpler, so instead of “Hey Siri”, now you can just say “Siri” followed by the command. And you can now use back-to-back commands like a conversation, without having to call “Siri” again and again. Lastly, Apple Maps can now be used offline by selecting an area and downloading offline maps. This can be very helpful when there is no cellular network.

Source: Apple

iPadOS gets more personalized with a lock screen and interactive home widgets

With the new iPadOS 17, Apple is adding interactive widgets through which you can carry out tasks without having to open the app. For instance, you can turn the lights on and off from the Home widget, or even play/pause music from the Apple Music widget.

Just like on the iPhone, you will now be able to customize the lock screen as well. From photos to astronomy to a kaleidoscope, there are a lot of options to choose from. On the left, you can also add multiple widgets to get more information at a glance on the lock screen.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 ipados 17 widgets
Source: Apple

The iPad is also getting Live Activities, allowing users to keep track of food with Uber Eats, travel plans with Flighty, live scores from the sports app, and more, all from the lock screen.

Source: Apple

Taking full advantage of the large screen canvas, the Health app can show rich details of health-related activities like heart rate, steps, and more at a glance in one place.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 ipados 17 live collaboration
Source: Apple

The iPadOS 17 can identify the fills in a PDF and add relevant details using autofill, like name, address, phone number and email. You can even add a signature to the document using Apple Pencil. Apple has also added a collaboration feature which can be helpful when working together. You can see each other’s updates in real time as you scribble.

Source: Apple

macOS Sonoma gets a new Gaming Mode and more  

A lot of key features from iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 such as widgets, messaging and the “Siri” hot word are coming to macOS Sonoma. With the new update, Apple is bringing new screensavers, widgets that you can now move around that canvas and out from the notification center.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 macos sonoma widgets
Source: Apple

Apple is finally getting serious about gaming on the macOS and bringing “Game Mode” with the new OS update. It will prioritize CPU and GPU to optimize the gaming experience on Mac. Apple says it has also worked on reducing the audio latency when using AirPods, and input latency when using PlayStation or Xbox controller by doubling the Bluetooth sampling rate.

But what’s even more impressive is the “Game Porting Toolkit” where developers can quickly evaluate if their game can run well on Mac. The process earlier used to take months, but now with the toolkit, it can be completed in days, thus bringing down the development time.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 macos sonoma overlay
Source: Apple

Another big feature is coming to help users when they are presenting remotely. Using the Apple Silicon and Neural Engine, you will get a new overlay option when doing remote presentations. It can be a small bubble showing your face or a large overlay where you can remain prominent in front of your presentation. But that’s not all, you can even add emoji reactions to your video stream, adding more fun to your video presentation.

Apple has been focusing on user privacy-related features and in the new macOS Sonoma, it is taking a step further with the Safari browser. The new features allow you to lock browser windows, block trackers and more. The new macOS also gains the ability to help you share your passwords and passkeys with your family. Lastly, there is also web app support, allowing you to quickly access your favorite sites.

Source: Apple

watchOS 10 adds widgets for quick access and more

The watchOS 10 now allows you quick access to widgets in a smart stack by just rotating the crown from any watch face. Users can also add a widget that can hold their favorite complications like quick access to a stopwatch, music, or timer. Apps like World Clock get a new update with dynamic background colors reflecting the time of the day in that particular time zone.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 watchos 10 widgets
Source: Apple

When you wear the Apple Watch and work out, the live activity will also be shown as a widget on the iPhone lock screen. Apple is also updating the Compass and Maps apps with a safety feature to help users that go hiking. The compass will generate two waypoints, with one of them being a cellular waypoint.

counterpoint apple wwdc 2023 watchos 10 waypoint
Source: Apple

In case you move to an area with no cellular network, the newly generated waypoint will indicate the place you were in the reception area. We think it is a great addition as you can track back to the area where you had reception and make a phone call or send a text message to your family and friends.

There are many other features and improvements, apart from the ones mentioned here, that are coming to Apple Watch with the watchOS 10 update.

Source: Apple

Related Posts

New Layer-1 Accelerator Cards Set To Boost Open RAN Market – Or Create More Lock-In?

The transition of the Radio Access Network (RAN) from a standalone, integrated network into a disaggregated, virtualized solution is well underway. However, all open RAN deployments to date rely on Intel’s x86-based COTS servers, with most deployments also using Intel’s proprietary FlexRAN software architecture. Recently, various silicon vendors have announced that they are developing alternatives to Intel’s x86 platform based on ASICs, GPUs as well RISC-V architectures. Several of these vendors are currently testing their new PCIe-based Layer-1 accelerator cards with CSPs and commercial versions of these products are expected to become widely available during the next three years.

This report provides an overview of the emerging open RAN PCIe-based Layer-1 accelerator card market based on new merchant silicon and highlights the opportunities and technical challenges facing the open RAN chip community as they strive to develop alternative chip solutions capable of efficiently processing real-time, latency-sensitive Layer-1 workloads.

Key Takeaway No. 1: Too much diversity?

The launch of new L1 accelerator cards from various vendors, large and small, should be welcomed by CSPs calling for diversity and will go some way to quell criticism that the open RAN market is too Intel-based. However, CSPs may now be faced with another dilemma – too much choice! They must now face the difficult challenge of testing and comparing multiple accelerator cards, inevitably involving complicated technical and commercial trade-offs.

Key Takeaway No. 2: Look-Aside or In-Line Accelerators?

At present, the choice of accelerator architecture is binary: either look-aside or inline. Both types have their advantages and drawbacks. Depending on use cases and applications, Counterpoint Research believes that operators may need to use both types of accelerators. However, only one vendor currently offers a software/silicon platform with the capability to do this.

Key Takeaway No. 3: Interoperability and Vendor Lock-In

Developing commercial-grade Layer 1 software suitable for massive MIMO networks is an expensive process requiring very specific skills and a lot of experience – but with no guarantee of commercial success. Although open RAN is designed to promote interoperability and vendor diversity, all L1 stacks are currently tied to the underlying silicon architectures and hence are not portable between hardware platforms. This introduces a new form of vendor lock-in for CSPs. Clearly, there is an urgent need for an universal software abstraction layer between the L1 stack and the various hardware platforms to enable stack portability.

The complete versions of these Key Takeaways, including the full set of  Takeaways is published in the following report, available to clients of Counterpoint Research’s 5G Network Infrastructure (5GNI) Service.

Report: New L1 Accelerator Cards Set To Boost Open RAN Market – Or Create More Lock-In?

Table of Contents

  • Snapshot
  • Key Takeaways
  • Introduction
  • PCIe-based Hardware Acceleration
    • Look Aside vs In-Line Acceleration
    • Technical Trade-Offs
  • Processor Architectures
    • Types of Processors
    • Comparison of Hardware Options
    • Intel’s Xeon with vRAN Boost
  • Layer-1 Stacks
    • Reference or Commercial Grade Stacks?
    • Open or Closed Stacks?
    • Layers 2 and 3

  • Interoperability and Standardization
    • FAPI Interface
    • Proprietary L1 Software Stacks
    • Accelerator Abstraction Layer (AAL)
    • Saankya Labs RANwiser
  • Key Players (in alphabetical order)
    • AMD Xilinx
    • Dell
    • EdgeQ
    • Intel
    • Leapfrog Semiconductor
    • Marvell
    • Nvidia
    • Picocom
    • Qualcomm
  • Viewpoint

Related Reports and Blogs

MWC22 Las Vegas: Samsung Makes Breakthrough In US Cable Market

Qualcomm On Track To Launch Open RAN 5G Macro Base Station Portfolio

Cloud RAN – Waiting For A Viable Business Case?

The Emerging Cloud RAN Ecosystem – Players and Solutions

Open RAN Radio Market: Product Availability Study

Will CHIPS Act Achieve US Goals?

  • The legislation includes over $52 billion in subsidies for semiconductor manufacturing.
  • So far, investments worth over $200 billion have been announced for manufacturing.
  • New foundries from TSMC, Intel, Samsung, Micron and Texas Instruments are underway.

Last August, the US Congress passed the CHIPS Act, the largest piece of industrial policy signed into law in the US in a generation. The legislation includes over $52 billion in subsidies for semiconductor manufacturing. Over the past two decades, the share of semiconductors manufactured in the US has steadily fallen while advanced semiconductor manufacturing has become increasingly concentrated in just a handful of cities, primarily in Taiwan and South Korea.

The outbreak of COVID-19 wreaked havoc on supply chains as factories shuttered, while the fallout of an unexpected winter storm in Texas further disrupted semiconductor manufacturing. Compounded by an explosion of demand as companies, schools and government offices pivoted to work from home, the chip shortage set in, shaving a percentage off of GDP growth according to the White House. In summary, the events of the past few years have made abundantly clear the foundational role that semiconductors play in today’s economy, and the costs that accompany constrained supply.

CHIPS Act Funding
From United States Public Law 117-167 – Aug. 9, 2022

All this triggered the finalization and passage of the CHIPS Act. The US government was convinced that the country’s supply of semiconductors, which power everything from washing machines, smartphones and cars to supercomputers and hypersonic missiles, faced an unacceptable bottleneck at a pivotal moment. The US is almost entirely dependent on Taiwan for the production of advanced chips even as cross-strait tensions reach new highs and US-China relations new lows. Indeed, concerns over a potential conflict in the South China Sea as well as between North Korea and South Korea, not to mention acts of God, impacting chip supplies convinced the US government about boosting the country’s semiconductor manufacturing. But with higher labor costs and plenty of red tape, semiconductor manufacturers needed added incentives to make the transition worthwhile. The CHIPS Act has done just that, sparking a wave of private investment.

Since the CHIPS Act was passed, investments worth over $200 billion have been announced for manufacturing capacity in the US, with new foundries underway from TSMC, Intel, Samsung, Micron and Texas Instruments. But while the CHIPS Act has lit the flame under private companies to act, some of the legislation’s provisions and shortcomings could lead to its undoing. These projects are faced with red tape and regulations that will cause them to linger before coming on line. Besides, while funding has been made available for workforce education and job training, the scale of the need for new employees and the lack of the required workers and skills will likely pain semiconductor firms for years to come. One solution would be to raise the number of visas available for skilled workers from abroad. Another would be to provide targeted assistance to students pursuing degrees in related fields. Finally, the Act itself fails to address the reason why semiconductor manufacturing left the US in the first place – American labor costs and regulations make production in the US more expensive than elsewhere. Once the funding runs dry, how will American semiconductor manufacturing remain competitive? Additional burdens on employers to guarantee union wages and provide child care certainly won’t make these projects anymore cost-competitive.

Counterpoint CHIPS Act Impact ChartWhile flawed, the CHIPS Act is a major stepping stone to creating secure, resilient supply chains that will insulate the country from many outside shocks. This is a step in the right direction, but more must be done if the country wants to win the semiconductor manufacturing marathon and avoid fizzling out after the starting sprint.

For more information about the CHIPS Act, a detailed report on the legislation can be found here.

Additional Reading:

US Chips Act Takes New Form Before August Recess, Leaves Some Unhappy

UMC Q1 2023 Earnings: Weak Cyclical Recovery But 28nm Remains Resilient

Global Smartphone AP (Application Processor) Shipments Market Share: Q3 2021 to Q4 2022

Will Japan Curbs Hit China Semiconductor Self-reliance Plans?

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Data Center CPU Market: AMD Surpasses Intel in Share Growth

  • The global data center CPU market’s revenue declined 4.4% YoY in 2022.
  • AMD registered a 62% YoY growth in its data center CPU revenue to hold a 20% market share.
  • Intel’s data center CPU revenue dropped by 16% YoY in 2022, while its market share fell to 71%.
  • ARM-based CPUs gained traction with Ampere, Graviton (Amazon) and Yitian (Alibaba) to surpass $1 billion in revenues for the first time.

New Delhi, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, London, Buenos Aires, San Diego – February 27, 2023

The global data center CPU market’s revenue registered a 4.4% YoY decline in 2022, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Semiconductor Service. Macroeconomic headwinds and increased energy costs impacted the sales of data center CPUs during the year. Besides, from the architecture perspective, the addition of accelerators in the servers for workloads restricted the demand for additional CPUs for servers.

Counterpoint Research Data Center Market Q4 2022

Commenting on the companies’ 2022 performance, Senior Research Analyst Akshara Bassi said, “Even though Intel is still the market leader, its market share loss points to AMD’s rising product portfolio and better performance over Intel. AMD surpassed Intel in market share growth in 2022. Intel suffered due to continued delays in the release of its next-generation product Sapphire Rapids, generationally comparable to AMD’s Milan launched in 2021.

As demonstrated by hyperscalars AWS and Alibaba, ARM-based architecture chips continue to gain steam due to the ROI offered on varied workload deployments and off-the-shelf solutions from Ampere Computing, and shipping of data center CPUs from NVIDIA in H1 2023.”

Talking from the foundry perspective, Associate Director Dale Gai said, “As evidenced by wafer demand and foundry capacity of advanced nodes from TSMC, the total wafer sales at 5/4nm rose by 85% YoY in 2022. One of the demand drivers for the increased demand of advanced nodes is data center CPUs”

Market summary for 2022

Intel remained the market leader with a 71% share, although far from the share that it commanded till 2018. Its revenue from the segment dropped 16% YoY in 2022. The market share declined primarily due to delays in next-generation products and weakness in enterprise spending due to macroeconomic conditions.

AMD came second with a 20% market share primarily driven by increased adoption of its EPYC processor Milan. AMD is becoming a dominant force in the x86-based CPU for data centers, being increasingly adopted by cloud providers and SKUs of server companies. AMD registered a 62% YoY growth in its data center portfolio in 2022.

AWS’ in-house ARM-based chip Graviton, now in its third generation, has been among the early adopters of ARM architecture in a data center. AWS has increased Graviton’s penetration in its offerings and also expanded it to support ML-based instances with in-house accelerators, representing a shift from general-purpose compute to specific workloads.

Ampere Computing started to gain more traction in 2022 with its expansion from traditional cloud providers to enterprises by having its CPU in off-the-shelf servers from OEMs.

The comprehensive and in-depth “Data Center CPU Tracker” report is available. Please contact Counterpoint Research to access the report.

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Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the technology, media and telecom (TMT) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects, and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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Qualcomm On Track To Launch Open RAN 5G Macro Base Station Portfolio

Qualcomm is in the midst of developing a suite of open RAN-based 5G infrastructure products. Two years ago, the vendor announced a new line-up of macro base station silicon with a target sampling date of mid-2022. As promised, the company started sampling its new products a few months ago with key customers and partners.

Qualcomm’s Open RAN Macro Portfolio

Qualcomm’s open RAN macro portfolio essentially consists of two products: the QRU 100 radio platform and the X100 RAN accelerator card:

  • QRU 100 Radio Platform – designed for use in 32TRx and 64TRx massive MIMO radios as well as much simpler 4TRx and 8TRx MIMO radios. The QRU 100 radio chip  includes transceivers, Layer-1 Low PHY baseband and beamforming processors and supports advanced cellular features such as RAN sharing, DSS, etc. In the case of mmWave applications, the chip also includes the RF front-end and antenna modules.
  • X100 RAN Accelerator Card – an in-line PCIe-based accelerator card based on the QDU 100 chip, which processes latency sensitive and compute intensive Layer-1 High PHY baseband workloads such as channel coding, demodulation as well as mMIMO processing. This reduces the number of CPU cores required and hence the overall cost of the DU. The X100 card supports all O-RAN Alliance defined baseband function split options (including future options such as 7.3) and operates at sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies – Exhibit 1(a).

Qualcomm is partnering  with HPE and the X100 card is being tested in the server vendor’s telco-grade ProLiant DL 110 Gen 10 Plus server, which has been optimised for open RAN workloads. The DL100 server is capable of supporting four cards within its 1U server footprint. Qualcomm claims that the card consumes approximately 35W of power when 70% loaded.

The key target markets for the above products will be the public macro MNO market as well as the enterprise private network market.

©Qualcomm, Inc, NTT DoCoMo

Exhibit 1(a) Qualcomm’s X100 Accelerator Card and (b) Qualcomm’s OREC partners and roles

Testing and Validation Schedule

Qualcomm has been providing engineering samples of its hardware to partner vendors, which include Fujitsu, NEC and Mavenir, since around mid-2022. Extensive lab testing will start around the end of 2022 or early 2023 with commercial deployments expected to start towards the end of 2023.

In addition, Qualcomm intends to undergo extensive integration tests with its partners at NTT DoCoMo’s OREC facility in 2023. This will involve testing the X100 card on an Intel-based HPE Proliant server as part of a complete 5G base station solution configured as shown in Exhibit 1(b).

Carrier-Grade Layer-1 Stack

Very few chip vendors offer a production-grade RAN software stack. Instead, they typically offer a reference stack of Layer-1 algorithms. Hardening the Layer-1 stack is both an intensive and extensive process that requires considerable technical expertise and resources.

Traditionally, Qualcomm has provided its small cells SoCs with software, including Layer-1, for the sub-6GHz and mmWave small cells market via its FSM platform. Unlike many of its open RAN rivals, Qualcomm will continue this tradition and offer its own carrier-grade Layer-1 software stack for the QRU100 and X100 card, which can then be customized by the customer. However, this will be an evolutionary process, with features being added according to a calendar of releases and followed by extensive testing and tuning until the required performance and stability is achieved.

Qualcomm’s Role and Partner Ecosystem

Qualcomm’s role in the 5G infrastructure market will be as an open RAN chip solutions provider enabling many new radio OEMs to enter the market as well as supplying some traditional vendors. Qualcomm already dominates the small cells market with its FSM100 (and FSM200) solutions and has developed an impressive list of customers. Clearly, the goal here is to do the same in the macro base station market by offering a range of proven, pre-integrated open RAN-based chip solutions to a wide variety of vendors, thereby gaining market share at the expense of the incumbents. Partners to date include Fujitsu, NEC, Mavenir, Rakuten Symphony and Viettel.


The open RAN/vRAN story is gaining momentum as major operators such as NTT DoCoMo, Verizon and others slowly transition to fully virtualized networks. Counterpoint Research expects this to accelerate during 2023, driven primarily by operators’ interest in leveraging the benefits of cloud-native architectures – rather than any clear-cut TCO benefits. These benefits include improved network agility, scalability and automation and will enable the introduction of new types of services.

Although the cost/performance differential compared to state-of-the-art, proprietary 5G base stations will persist, operators have an urgent need to introduce innovative new services in order to monetise their 5G networks. Counterpoint Research believes that this need will drive the adoption of disaggregated, virtualized RAN networks and that the benefits and flexibility offered by this type of architecture – for specific use cases such as as low-latency 5G MEC – will likely offset the cost/performance deficit for most operators.


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The Emerging Cloud RAN Ecosystem – Players and Solutions

Cloud RAN – Technology Review and Challenges

Open RAN Radios – Chinese Vendors Set To Dominate An Emerging Market?


A Promising Yet Challenging Market for Self-driving SoCs

  • ADAS penetration in global car shipments will reach 78.7% by 2024 as new players help drive the ADAS chip market.
  • Level 2 category will have a revenue market share of 44.4% in 2022 and 60% in 2024 due to higher safety criteria and lower component prices.
  • The share of Level 4 SoCs in revenue will reach 24% in 2030. These SoCs will be used in luxury automobiles and robotaxis since they have a higher entrance barrier and cost more than Level 3 SoCs.

Semiconductors are becoming more important for automobiles as electrification and intelligence continue to advance. Among these, the level of intelligence has emerged as an essential factor that customers consider when buying a vehicle. The accuracy and efficiency of autonomous driving are determined by the computational capabilities and manufacturing process of the chip. Therefore, the increase in demand for autonomous driving is pushing the demand for advanced processes and will significantly increase the market size of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)/Autonomous driving (AD) chips. The computational capability of ADAS/AD processors must meet the requirements of the corresponding autonomous driving level. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines the various levels of autonomous driving as follows:

The TOPS (trillion operations per second) of Level 2 ADAS/AD chips is typically between 10 and 100, but the TOPS of Level 3 is between 150 and 200 and the TOPS of Level 4/Level 5 is more than 400 and will reach 1000+. Each level is divided further based on functionality. Basic Level 2 features include only adaptive cruise control (ACC) and lane-keeping system (LKS), and can be achieved by an SoC with only 10 TOPS. However, advanced Level 2 may require up to 75 TOPS to achieve advanced ACC, which can maintain the lane center and pre-control the speed at upcoming curves.

The global ADAS/AD SoC market is expected to reach $30 billion by 2030 with a CAGR of 26.3% between 2022 and 2027. SoCs in the Level 2 category will have a revenue market share of 44.4% in 2022, which will reach a record high of 60% in 2024 due to an increase in safety requirements and a decrease in component prices. Level 3 AD systems will take a few years to gain the public’s trust, but by 2027, they will replace Level 2 as the standard. Compared to Level 3 SoCs, Level 4 SoCs have greater computational capability and bandwidth to process more high-resolution images and make a quick response. As a result, the entry barrier and cost of Level 4 SoCs are much higher than those of Level 3 SoCs, hence they will mostly be utilized in luxury vehicles and robotaxis.

The entry barrier to Level 1 and Level 2 ADAS SoC is low. Therefore, ADAS penetration can increase significantly when the cost of ADAS sensors, such as cameras and radars, continues to decline. Counterpoint expects that the global penetration of ADAS in car shipments will reach 78.7% by 2024. At the same time, multiple new players will enter the ADAS chip market. These startups are capable of AI chip design and mass production, and their solutions can swiftly fulfill localized requirements, such as local language and localization algorithms, at competitive prices. Therefore, emerging car OEMs will favor these new solutions. However, traditional automotive chips, such as Renesas and NXP, are also providing solutions. Level 3 employs more sensors and more efficient computing units than Level 2. The most significant difference between Level 3 and Level 4 is the improvement in artificial intelligence, as Level 4 autonomous vehicles must be able to take rapid decisions.

On the other hand, the development of autonomous driving (AD) chips is primarily driven by established consumer electronics giants such as NVIDIA and Intel (Mobileye). The R&D expenditures and entry barriers for AD chips are significantly greater than those for ADAS. In addition to the core AI chip, AD solutions should also incorporate connectivity, sensing systems, image training models, ADAS map development, route planning, vehicle control, driver monitoring systems (DMS), natural language processing (NLP) and intelligent cockpit solutions. Moreover, the AD chip must be able to deliver tailored and region-specific algorithms. This must be accomplished through the collaboration of automotive OEMs and AD chip companies. All of these factors make it challenging to create a good AD chip and the payback time is also lengthy.

Advantages, Disadvantages Faced by 3 Primary ADAS/AD Chip Vendors

In the past, there used to be a distinct division of labor between car OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and chip vendors (Tier 2). The chip vendors might be either fabless firms or IDMs, and both would place orders to the foundry. Since the demand for semiconductors in the automotive industry was modest and all semiconductors used in automobiles were manufactured with mature processes, the foundry was less important. However, the performance and features in future automotive processors will play a crucial role in migrating to autonomous driving and electrification. Consequently, the ecosystem of collaboration between OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and chip manufacturers is beginning to shift. Chip providers which were once Tier 2 are beginning to collaborate directly with OEMs. In addition, these three types of companies may engage directly with foundries to secure chip sources.

Competitor landscape

Mobileye is the leading Level 1 and 2 supplier due to its early entry. However, because of a lack of flexibility and superior alternatives, Chinese automakers want to replace Mobileye with NVIDIA or Horizon robots. Additionally, its solution has less computational power than those of its competitors. To keep up with other companies, Mobileye also introduced at CES 2022 its EyeQUltra, EyeQ6 Light and EyeQ6 High SoCs for L4, L2 and L1/L autonomous driving, respectively.

NVIDIA has aggressively entered the automobile autonomous driving market with its expertise in GPUs for the AI business. The benefits of NVIDIA’s AD processors include high computational power, extensive software tools and a complete environment allowing clients to create their own algorithms. In terms of clientele, NVIDIA works with the majority of automakers and Tier 1 suppliers worldwide. Atlan, the most recent AD chip from NVIDIA, has been released in 2022 with 1000 TOPS of computational capacity and is expected to enter mass production by 2025, aiming at L4/L5 autonomous driving solutions.

Qualcomm is a pioneer in smart cockpits but a follower in autonomous driving technology. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride, a high-performance, low-power autonomous driving solution that supports L1-L5 degrees of autonomy, is aimed at the mid-to-high-end autonomous driving market.

Horizon Robotics, one of the few autonomous driving chip solution vendors in China, will likely supply to Chinese automakers in the coming years. Horizon has positioned itself as a competitor to Mobileye and NVIDIA. A new participant in the industry, it has introduced many products that correspond to Mobileye’s solution. In contrast to NVIDIA’s general-purpose processors, Horizon’s AD SoCs are ASICs, which consume less power and are more efficient than general-purpose CPUs. However, they are less flexible and may experience the same difficulty when moving to Level 3 and beyond.

Related Posts and Reports

Execution Woes and Economy Sink Intel Earnings

Intel, under immense pressure from internal execution delays in key segments – DCAI, AXG and product design, and economic headwinds from falling consumer demand and fiscal tightening, reported its eighth consecutive YoY revenue decline and its first net loss in 30 years, amounting to $454 Mn.

  • The GAAP revenue dropped to $15.3 Bn, a 22% YoY decline and missed its estimate by $2.7 Bn for the Q2 outlook due to weaker demand in CCG and lose of market share to AMD.
  • Gross margins declined 15% YoY and stood at 44.8% compared to 59.8% in the previous year quarter due to component pricing not passed onto consumers

This was well below the guidance issued at its Investor Day and Q1 quarterly earnings where it projected to be above 50%.

Counterpoint Research Intel Revenue Chart
Source: Counterpoint Estimates, Company Earnings

Segment Reports

Client Computing: OEM inventory reductions and soft demand contribute to 25% revenue decline; Lowest since 2014

Client Computing Revenues were at $7.7 Bn a 25% decline in YoY revenues and 29% decline in the ‘Notebook’ segment. The biggest decline factors were:

  • OEM inventory reduction followed by softening demand from consumer, education and SMB (Small and Medium Sized Business) customers.

The company expects the revenue to decline in Q3 and then rise again in Q4 due to inventory balancing and price increases. The company expects a 10% decline in the PC TAM for this financial year.

The company expects its roadmap of Raptor Lake processors to be on schedule for this Q3 and Q4 for desktop and notebook chip releases respectively.

Counterpoint Research Intel CCG Chart
Source: Counterpoint Estimates, Company Earnings

Datacenter and AI (DCAI) underperforms due to execution issues, match-set issues and ethernet & power supply component shortages

The DCAI revenue was $4.6 Bn a 16% YoY decline.

  • The revenue slump was primarily due to execution issues of stepping out ‘Sapphire Rapids’ which has been delayed three times due to security and quality performance not being in line with expectations and competitor products.

The company had launched its last generation of processors – Ice Lake in 2019 and Cooper Lake in 2020 with some upgrades in 2021.

  • The revenue for DCAI will remain downcast for the whole year due to the financial impact of Sapphire Rapids ramp only being realized next year and competitive pressures for its existing product line. The company expects a high-volume SKU ramp later this year.

The company launched its next gen AI accelerator Gaudi2 and its software platform security capability – Amber for AI driven continuous optimizations.
On an optimistic note, the company emphasizes the deals it has with Meta, Nvidia and AWS for its multi-year and multi-generational compute expansion.

Counterpoint Research Intel DCAI Chart
Source: Counterpoint Estimates, Company Earnings

Network and Edge (NEX) segment provides some green amidst the deep red CCG and DCAI revenues

Revenue grew 11% YoY at $2.3 Bn with Xeon D (processor for Network & Edge) and Mount Evans helping to drive the revenue as leading network companies adopt the product into their network infrastructure.

Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) revenue grew 5% with software issues delaying some launches

The AXG revenue stood at $186 Mn representing a 5% increase in revenue YoY.

  • The company is poised to miss its target of 4-million-unit shipments in 2022 but to achieve a target of $1 bn in revenues. The Intel Art GPU series remained the revenue driver.
  • Intel Arc A5 and A7 Desktop GPU Cards were delayed due to software issues and will start shipping in Q3.
  • Data Center GPU – Arctic Sound has shipped to customers and the financial impact will be seen in the next two quarters.

Mobileye has its best ever quarter revenue at $460 Mn representing 46% YoY growth

Mobileye continued to outperform the market and increased its backlog by over 21 million units for the upcoming quarters. 16 million units were shipped in the first half of 2022. The company expects to add more customers and is extensively deploying capital for next generation ADAS products.

Intel Foundry Services (IFS) gains support and forms IFS Cloud Alliance to improve foundry design efficiency, time-to-market

The revenue of IFS was $126 Mn representing a 54% decline YoY due to lower mass tool sales as well as a revenue decrease in the automotive segment due to customer shortages in the automotive market.

  • The company has added $1 Bn in revenue pipeline for this quarter, including a new client –  MediaTek – on Intel 16 node, making the revenue pipeline about $6 Bn in total.
  • The advanced node revenue pipeline remains undecided as the company is still working on test chips and design libraries to secure orders. The company is also expected to benefit from the recently passed CHIPS act from 2023 onwards and the industry wide transition to System and Package chipsets vis-à-vis a board chipsets.

Additionally, the IFS Cloud alliance was launched with leading cloud providers – Azure and AWS, and EDA tool providers – Ansys, Cadence, Siemens and Synopsys, to enable secure design environments in the cloud, improving design efficiency and accelerating the time-to-market for chips.

Outlook for Q3 2022 and FY 2022

  • Q3 revenue to decline 12-17% YoY to $15-$16 Bn and gross margin to be at 46.5%.
  • FY 2022 revenue to be in range of $65-$68 Bn down $8-$11 Bn from earlier guidance.
  • Capex reduced by $4 Bn from earlier forecasts to $23 Bn.

The capex reduction will directly impact the wafer fab equipment delivery and possible delays in fab expansion and capacity.

The primary reasons for the forecast revenue declines include – product roadmap delays in DCAI and software issues in AXG product segments. Dampened demand from desktop and notebook industry amid worsening consumer sentiment is also dragging on the revenue outlook.

The company has already indicated a not-too-good Q3 with some breathing room available from Q4.

Though, the company has reiterated its position is on track for its future nodes and product releases we believe the latter half-year launches will crystallize the current status of its advanced nodes and likely delivery of its future product roadmaps.

The uphill battle for Intel commences with its first earnings of 2022

Intel enters a year where Moore’s law has considerably slowed, supply chains are constantly under pressure from various macro and micro factors, PC demand corrects from the pandemic induced highs and growth rally momentum comes from mostly Cloud, Automotive and 5G.

Counterpoint Research Intel Revenue Chart

  • Intel reported revenue of $18.4B, a decrease of 7% YoY, gross margin was down 4.8% YoY to 50.4%
  • Client Computing Group (Notebooks and Desktop) was down 13% with Notebook Revenue declining significantly by 14%
  • Datacenter & AI Group remained the key growth segment for revenues for company with 22% YoY growth in revenues supported by Network and Edge Group with 23% YoY growth, Accelerated Computing & Systems with 21% YoY increase and Intel Foundry Services up by 175%
  • Foundry capacity and Equipment to remain tightened till 2024

Segment Reports:

Counterpoint Research Intel CCG Revenues

Client Computing: Consumer and Apple headwinds chip away $1.4B from the Client Group

The desktop revenues stood at $2.6B and notebook revenues were at $6.0B indicating a decline of 5% and 14% YoY respectively. The decline was majorly attributed to inventory digestion cycle and demand waning due to Covid-driven situations. Ramp down on Apple CPU and modem business in addition to muted demand from education market segment contributed to the significant decline in revenues.

The only offset came from increased ASP pricing across segments with 32% increase in Notebooks and 7% increase in Desktop segment.

  • The Client computing group will see muted demand for the year because of the inflationary environment, supply chain constraints and inventory realignment by OEMs to reflect the intrinsic demand minus the Covid induced spike.
  • Gaming and Enterprise Tech Refresh are the two trends that will help the group revenues to surf and stabilise.
  • The product roadmap in later half of year will see intensive competition due to Raptor Lake and AMD Ryzen 7 hitting the markets.

Datacenter and AI (DCAI) proves to be The Revenue Guard for year 2022

DCAI revenue was up $1.1B or 22% at $6.0B due to continued demand from Hyperscalars and Enterprises. Hyperscalars are continuing to invest in DC infrastructures to enable their Metaverse ambitions whilst Enterprises are expanding and upgrading their infrastructure to sustain the data generation and providing analytics that is fast becoming a necessity from consumers.

Intel FPGA based IPUs also contributed to the growth where volume adoption is present at the major cloud players and the demand continues from peripheries including Networking and Automotive DCs.

A 3% ASP decrease was observed in segment and 26% volume increase due to product and customer mix indicating majority of sales from Intel Xeon Silver/Bronze.

We think that majority of sales went to enable the ‘Edge’ infrastructure.

  • This is the year of Datacenters and Cloud as reinforced by every chip and cloud company in their revenue forecasts. The demand will be coming from Hyperscalars, and Enterprises expansion accelerated by the supercomputing efforts from the companies, SaaS adoption and cloudification of consumer services.
  • Company’s Edge to Cloud chip portfolio offerings will help capturing the demand coming from the Edge and Networking market as 5G network deployments and MEC becomes more widespread
  • With the acquisition of Granulate (SaaS service that improves performance in cloud costs with its autonomous dynamic optimization service to unmodified customer workloads) – the company’s SW stack combined with HW would provide additional revenue streams

Network and Edge (NEX) segment rolls due to the ’Edge’ Expansion

NEX revenue was $2.2B up 22% YoY. Demand drivers for the segment came from cloud networking hardware and software tools.

  • The networking segment will strengthen as company has focused on launching silicon for software defined infrastructure – vRAN and ORAN for Network and Edge capturing the upcoming high-volume deployments from operators
  • Upcoming Sapphire Rapids can prove to be a breakthrough for Intel to establish its leadership as it claims to deliver up to two times capacity gains for vRAN and support advanced capabilities like high-cell density for 64T64R Massive MIMO

Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) revenue is at $219M

Intel marked its foray into Discrete Graphics with its Intel A series of mobile GPU which was launched in Spring this year.  The Desktop GPU are expected to be launched in Market this summer.  Company is expecting to do $1B+ business this year as it scales the range at Data Centre level with Ponte Vecchio.

  • Intel is entering highly competitive market where Nvidia reigns supreme. The company has launched only one Variant – Intel ARC for Mobile so far with 50+ design wins. The variant has performed well but it will take more time for Intel to get the mind share and the wallet share it is expecting! The other variants would be launching this summer and we sincerely hope that Intel promises on the momentum it has indicated for its AXG business.
  • The launch of Blockchain accelerator would help in capturing the peripheral accelerator business which is dominated by mostly DIYs or Nvidia
  • The resonance of synergies from having its own CPU+GPU+I/O and in-house foundry coupled with its proprietary SW technologies – Evo & XeSS would help Intel to produce inspiring performances from devices because of component efficiencies in the long run.

Mobileye logs record revenues at $394M

Mobileye grew 17% YoY to have its best quarter in earnings. The company has successfully demoed L4 robotaxi in Jerusalem and grew its number of testing sites to 10 cities across 3 continents with addition of Miami and Stuttgart. The commercial robotaxi services will commence at the end of 2022 in Munich and Tel Aviv.

  • The much-awaited IPO might debut later this year but Intel has so far kept to its delivery and promise schedule regarding Mobileye products
  • The revenue would probably see a considerable spike later this and early next year as the consumer and commercial L4 vehicles enter mass production

Intel Foundry Services (IFS) is on a promising start with $5B in deal value across nodes

The revenue of IFS was $283M. The team has 10 opportunities for its process and package offerings representing over $5B in deal value. The team has over 30 test chips for Intel 16 and is expecting Intel 3 and Intel 18a customer test chips to tape out later in 2022.

From foundry perspective the progress looks very optimistic considering on Intel 4, Meteor Lake has successfully booted and pre-production wafers have commenced on Intel 3.

The company also commented that it has enough substrate and Fab supply to meet customer’s demand.

  • The behemoth task of delivering 5 nodes in 4 years remains the crucial aspect to Intel for its every business. So far it looks like everything is going good for them but as the tape-outs occur for Intel 7 we would have better visibility on the yields.
  • Considering the past, we are cautiously optimistic on the outcome on the node delivery as the Wafer Equipment manufacturers have started flagging the delivery timelines.

ESG Commitment Updates: Intel announced initiatives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and develop more sustainable technology solutions by identifying greener chemicals, new abatement equipments, including using 100% renewable energy across their global operations by 2030 by investing $300M to achieve 4B KWh of energy savings and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in their global operations by 2040.

Outlook for Q2 2022

Company is expecting $18B for Q2 2022, a 3% decrease YoY as the inventory burns happen and the company readies itself for inventory reversals due to launch of Raptor Lake and Sapphire lake.  But for Q2 the client computing will remain muted due to the macro factors heavily influencing consumer sentiments.

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