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Chips Fueling Growth in CE, Auto Markets

Coming off of the impressive 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it is nearly impossible to not have “Ultra” in the discussion.

CES was, intentionally, a showcase for {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} support of the latest ultrabook series of laptops, intended to directly compete with {complink 379|Apple Inc.} MacBook Air series. While Apple was not named, it goes without saying that these new devices from a multitude of OEMs, such as Samsung, Lenovo, HP, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, and Inventec, are intended to fuel demand and competition for ultrabooks.

Ultrabooks are truly exciting, particularly given the potential to fuel demand in both consumer and enterprise markets. Behind ultrabook excitement is the Intel Ivy Bridge mobile processor supporting an array of features that rival those of tablet PCs, but with the advantages of a laptop in terms of keyboard, ports, drives, software, etc.

Smartphones have taken a backseat to the super phones that are now making a wider debut. Intel announced Atom chips for phones in, which will also push feature set expectations. When we talk about mobility, though, we have to mention {complink 4505|Qualcomm Inc.} and {complink 3926|Nvidia Corp.}, which continue to lead the market in numbers and in innovative chip design.

One noteworthy super phone at CES was the Samsung Galaxy Note. Originally announced in September 2011, this 5.3-inch phone/tablet hybrid will be released in the US through AT&T in 2012. This device is sleek, fast, and handles serious multitasking. It comes with a dual-core 1.4Ghz processor, 8-megapixel back camera and a 2-megapixel front camera, 1080 / 30p HD video, and 16GB internal memory expandable up to 32GB with a MicroSD card. Then there's the AMOLED screen, one of many OLED-family displays touted at CES, from 5.3-inches up to the impressive OLED TVs, which are not just about displays but also about TV integration and connectivity. So, 2012 is also looking to be the year of the smart TV, according to OEMs such as Samsung and LG.

Of course, the traditional audio-video car systems were at CES, but now the sophisticated navigation, tracking, and alarm systems are fully integrated with vehicle design. Some car companies, such as Ford and Audi, revealed their 2013 models at CES. Audi's A7, for example, showcased Nvidia's ability to be the device-automotive bridge with its Tegra processors for navigation and infotainment.

This type of showcasing is important because it underscores the increased penetration rate for semiconductor and electronics in the automotive sector, to the point where the automobile is truly a consumer electronics device and offers features that are improved upon due to advancing component technology. Not to be upstaged by Audi, Ford's 2013 Focus touted advances in fuel efficiency, safety, and performance, as well as its new Sync platform to integrate auto-infotainment and extend connectivity and integrate smart wireless devices into the car.

CES certainly delivered this year, with products showing imagination, durability, mobility, speed, integration, connectivity, smartness, thinness, and readiness. If the excitement around the devices is any gauge, 2012 will be an exciting year.

6 comments on “Chips Fueling Growth in CE, Auto Markets

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    January 26, 2012

    Todd–this is a nice wrap-up of CES from the standpoint of chips and the role in the supply chain. From what I remember from other CES, the whiz-bang visual stuff always steals the show, and little attention is paid to the guts of the designs. EBN, EETimes and many of our other pubs have begun to cover CES from the standpoint of the design engineer and buyer, and that adds a lot of value to the discussion and helps buyers plan for the future.

  2. Mr. Roques
    January 26, 2012

    Samsung Galaxy Note? Hadn't heard of it but really? That thin line between phones and tablets is lost, but (IMHO) is too big for a phone! Maybe we should redefine what a phone is, but you can't put it in your pocket and it would be to hard to carry around.

    What's the approach they are taking with it?

  3. tioluwa
    January 27, 2012

    I agree with Barbara, let the consumers talk about fancy products, but for designers and the supply chain, its more about what is going on behind the hood and who is taking over. 

    Intel is really working to get its cut from the smart phone and tablet market, let's see how far they can go in 2012.

    As for smart phones and tablets, we might just have to find a new name that combines both into one, the line between them is getting thinner and thinner. With the internet, business  and socials are done more and more via mail, chat, video conferencing and the likes, so what's the point of calling them phones when calls acount for just a small fraction of what they do.

  4. FLYINGSCOT
    January 27, 2012

    The advances in automotive fuel efficiency and in-car infotainment are really very impressive.  However it does mean that mere mortals have no chance of ever repairing a “digital” car anymore.

  5. stochastic excursion
    January 27, 2012

    Intel has driven the concept and definition of the ultrabook, and has shown that the tagline “powered by Intel” is not just self-aggrandizement.  The aim of this line of devices does seem to be to give the Macbook Air line a run for its money.  For instance in a key category, battery life, the results are a photo finish at six hours each between the 13″ Macbook Air and the HP Folio of equal size.

    All of this says something about Apple.  It's definitely true that what seems like an age-old conflict between the Mac and PC isn't going to fade anytime soon.

  6. prabhakar_deosthali
    January 28, 2012

    Sitting here in India and reading these overviews on the CES, one gets the feeling that today consumer elctronics means only smartphones and tablets. What is happening in Tvs and those 3D technologies?  Last year there was so much talk about them. Have those things reached a dead end of innovation?

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