The Inquirer-Home

Intel says app-specific processors might not be feasible

Sees little differentiation between product segmentation
Wed Dec 12 2012, 10:00
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CHIPMAKER Intel has said it is unlikely that it will launch new product segments, such as E3 and E5, as they "would not be different enough".

Intel has been segmenting its products and creating brand names such as Xeon Phi and Xeon E7, Xeon E5 and Xeon E3 to try to push its customers to particular products. Now the firm has said it won't be segmenting its products further and the current trend of matching processors to workloads can only go so far before encountering diminishing returns.

Chris Feltham, Intel EMEA product manager, told The INQUIRER that in some workloads there is a definite need for specific processors, but the firm will only make processors to suit workloads that have significant customer demand.

Feltham said, "I think there will come a point with that kind of segmentation where you get decreasing returns. I think there will be areas - like [Xeon] Phi where there may be not a workload per se, but a class of workloads or a characteristic of workloads - and that will make sense, and if that market for that application is big enough to have a product designed for that then yes that would make sense."

Feltham said in the case of low power there was a need for a separate core, as opposed to scaling down an existing core, and said there's a limit to how many different brands Intel can get away with.

"For low power and low performance at the other end, that might make sense, there would be a finite limit to how many product lines that make sense to do, otherwise you end up with too many product lines," said Feltham.

Feltham thought the line between Intel's products were clear but didn't see more product segments appearing. Feltham said, "I think the differentiation is pretty clear, I struggle to see a point where we would have more than we have today. I just don't think it would make any sense, I think the diminishing returns would kick in and the products would not be different enough."

While Intel is correct in saying certain workloads, such as matrix manipulation, would be particularly well suited to many-core processors such as GPGPUs or its own Xeon Phi, some of the segmentation helps the firm generate more cash. The firm still hasn't made it clear why it has decided to push its Atom brand into the server market at the same time it is pushing the brand into smartphones and tablets. µ


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