Intel deal to buy Wind River may pit it against Apple's iPhone team

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
An Intel move to buy mobile software experts Wind River Systems could do more than just give the chip maker a leg up in handheld devices; it could also spark more direct competition between Apple and Intel.



The mutually-agreed deal, worth about $884 million, should finalize in the summer and is directly related to fostering Intel's "mobile device capabilities" in the future.



What Wind River's role will be once it's there isn't detailed at this early point in time, but Intel is blunt in stating that most of its ambitions with the buyout involve portable home electronics, ranging from smartphones through to mobile Internet devices (MIDs) that straddle the line between notebooks and handhelds.



The expansion is poised to help Intel's ultra-mobile processor business and, particularly, the software that drives it. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company already has a complete mobile operating system in Moblin Linux but will gain extra depth through Wind River's deeper knowledge of embedded operating systems. Wind River is best known for developing very small, efficient platforms like VxWorks and Wind River Linux that can operate in-car electronics or other devices that depend on very fast, real-time updating.



In any circumstance, the move has Intel moving in a different path but, potentially, towards the same goal as its computer processor partner Apple. The former already has a variant of its Atom processor in development, codenamed Moorestown, that would be small enough to be stuffed into MIDs and smartphones and would be aided by further refined software from Wind River. Apple, meanwhile, has already established OS X iPhone but has clearly signaled an intent to make its own mobile device processors, which could surface as early as next year.



And though the two are closely linked in the full-size computing realm, where Apple has regularly received processors first or else received special editions that don't exist elsewhere, tensions have already manifested themselves in the handheld arena. An Intel vice president publicly criticized Apple's choice of ARM for the iPhone's processor architecture late last year and said that the current and future cellphones capable of "full" Internet features as they wouldn't have Intel's x86 processors. Intel later backtracked from the statement but nonetheless made it evident that the company would go its own route whether or not Apple was ready to play along.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    dhkostadhkosta Posts: 150member
    Good. With the "Pre-flop" imminent, the iPhone could use some competition.



    It'll be fun to see what turns up on the "River."
  • Reply 2 of 36
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    This is more about establishing their ARM competitors in the future than anything to do with Apple.



    ARM was clearly the correct choice for the iPhone or it wouldn't have been released yet, wouldn't be released for another year, and let us be honest, it wouldn't be out until 2013 when Intel actually had a low-power SoC of the small size with all the functions and RAM on it like Apple used in 2007.



    That's probably around 200 million iPhone sales that Intel thinks Apple should have skipped!
  • Reply 3 of 36
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    An Intel move to buy mobile software experts Wind River Systems ...



    This smacks of desperation, stupidity, or both combined.



    Stupidity in that to go into device manufacture and software design is just nutty for a chip maker, or desperation in that to buy a mobile software operation just to make sure that *someone* is coding for your chips is indeed a desperate move.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,581member
    Competition is always good. Let the insanity begin!
  • Reply 5 of 36
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    This smacks of desperation, stupidity, or both combined.



    Stupidity in that to go into device manufacture and software design is just nutty for a chip maker, or desperation in that to buy a mobile software operation just to make sure that *someone* is coding for your chips is indeed a desperate move.



    No it isn't. Its a very shrewd move on their part, IMO.



    They know they need a lightweight efficient SoC design to compete in mobile devices in the future. Instead of relying on others, such as MS, to develop the software they're taking matters into their own hands.



    You do know the Wind River is the undisputed leader in developing SW for embedded systems, right? They didn't buy a bozo operation.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,584member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    This smacks of desperation, stupidity, or both combined.



    Stupidity in that to go into device manufacture and software design is just nutty for a chip maker, or desperation in that to buy a mobile software operation just to make sure that *someone* is coding for your chips is indeed a desperate move.



    When spending 0.8 Billion dollars, people tend to make rational, long-term decisions.
  • Reply 7 of 36
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    No it isn't. Its a very shrewd move on their part, IMO.



    They know they need a lightweight efficient SoC design to compete in mobile devices in the future. Instead of relying on others, such as MS, to develop the software they're taking matters into their own hands.



    You do know the Wind River is the undisputed leader in developing SW for embedded systems, right? They didn't buy a bozo operation.



    Well that makes sense. I spoke too soon.



    The article makes it sound like they are just another mobile software developer or a developer of mobile software applications. SoC is a different story altogether.



    If there is somewhere in the article that actually mentions this, I missed it but in my defence I think this is YAPWAFAI (yet another poorly worded article from Apple Insider)
  • Reply 8 of 36
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    Well that makes sense. I spoke too soon.



    The article makes it sound like they are just another mobile software developer or a developer of mobile software applications. SoC is a different story altogether.



    If there is somewhere in the article that actually mentions this, I missed it but in my defence I think this is YAPWAFAI (yet another poorly worded article from Apple Insider)



    This article at Ars explains it better.



    Its a good read.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    retroneoretroneo Posts: 240member
    Moorestown on 45nm still isn't suitable power-consumption wise for a mobile phone. The 32nm shrink may well be suitable.



    ARM Cortex is certainly the way to go at the moment for this kind of device.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,406member
    Even though Intel does supply components that make it into consumer electronics, Intel itself does not deal directly with consumers. Intel has demonstrated in the past its inabilities to deal with the consumer directly. They can buy up all the companies they want. Ultimately, Intel's corporate mentality will cause them to fail, or at the minimum, trip badly.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    Well that makes sense. I spoke too soon.



    The article makes it sound like they are just another mobile software developer or a developer of mobile software applications. SoC is a different story altogether.



    If there is somewhere in the article that actually mentions this, I missed it but in my defence I think this is YAPWAFAI (yet another poorly worded article from Apple Insider)



    Wind River wrote the embedded system that was the brains of the Mars Lander, what, about 8-10 years back? They're very good.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    Moorestown on 45nm still isn't suitable power-consumption wise for a mobile phone. The 32nm shrink may well be suitable.



    ARM Cortex is certainly the way to go at the moment for this kind of device.



    I'm not saying that Intel will necessarily 'win' in the mobile space with this move but it does show a commitment to compete.



    And lets face, in a year MS will have their Zune Phone which will be custom hardware and software. Sure they'll keep Win Mobile around for the looser handset makers, but they know they can't rely on Motorola and Sony to keep up with the iPhone.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Speaking of ARM and OS disappointments, Reuters reports that, "Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system will not run on netbooks powered by ARM chips, Microsoft said on Wednesday, a blow to the British firm's hopes of becoming a big player in the sector



    Wintel Alliance, Welcome to the Dark Side. Alive and well Thank You.



    It is now part...of us.



    How long can OS X hold out after ARM falls? hmmm...
  • Reply 14 of 36
    ghstmarsghstmars Posts: 140member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    Speaking of ARM and OS disappointments, Reuters reports that, "Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system will not run on netbooks powered by ARM chips, Microsoft said on Wednesday, a blow to the British firm's hopes of becoming a big player in the sector



    Wintel Alliance, Welcome to the Dark Side. Alive and well Thank You.



    It is now part...of us.



    How long can OS X hold out after ARM falls? hmmm...



    P.A. Semi + Imagination Technologies..

    what else you need ?. Besides ARM is not going anywhere!!
  • Reply 15 of 36
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,200member
    Oooh!



    I'm sure Apple is shakin' about the thought of it.



    Colleagues at Intel fight over being able to work on the Apple projects. I doubt this will have them clamoring for projects working on the Wind River acquisition.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,200member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghstmars View Post


    P.A. Semi + Imagination Technologies..

    what else you need ?. Besides ARM is not going anywhere!!



    It will only expand.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    mark2005mark2005 Posts: 1,158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    No it isn't. Its a very shrewd move on their part, IMO.



    They know they need a lightweight efficient SoC design to compete in mobile devices in the future. Instead of relying on others, such as MS, to develop the software they're taking matters into their own hands.



    You do know the Wind River is the undisputed leader in developing SW for embedded systems, right? They didn't buy a bozo operation.



    Exactly right. Apple is moving away from Intel in the mobile space, due to Intel's failure to stay with ARM-based designs in processing capability per power consumed. With the obvious mess that is MS Windows Mobile, Intel knows it can't count on MS to advance an OS for its chips. And without an OS, all those hardware manufacturers like Dell and HP are left hanging and not able to buy and use those Intel chips.



    And even if Apple uses Intel chips, only Apple can use its OS. So "limited" sales of chips.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    randythotrandythot Posts: 109member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mark2005 View Post


    Exactly right. Apple is moving away from Intel in the mobile space, due to Intel's failure to stay with ARM-based designs in processing capability per power consumed. With the obvious mess that is MS Windows Mobile, Intel knows it can't count on MS to advance an OS for its chips. And without an OS, all those hardware manufacturers like Dell and HP are left hanging and not able to buy and use those Intel chips.



    And even if Apple uses Intel chips, only Apple can use its OS. So "limited" sales of chips.



    And it seems to me, although it should raise some eyebrows at Apple, the real loser is MS. Between iPhone & Pre, PA Semi & Wind River, and Android...Win Mobile looks to be headed for a world of hurt this upcoming year or two.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    hypermarkhypermark Posts: 152member
    I sold a company to Wind River (device management vendor, Rapid Logic) and have partnered with Intel on/off for 13+ years so I have a pretty well formed perspective on the deal, which I blogged about in:



    Closing the Book on Embedded: Intel buys Wind River

    http://bit.ly/2I9ks



    Check it out if interested.



    Mark
  • Reply 20 of 36
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    Speaking of ARM and OS disappointments, Reuters reports that, "Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system will not run on netbooks powered by ARM chips, Microsoft said on Wednesday, a blow to the British firm's hopes of becoming a big player in the sector



    Wintel Alliance, Welcome to the Dark Side. Alive and well Thank You.



    It is now part...of us.



    How long can OS X hold out after ARM falls? hmmm...



    That presumes ARM is going to fall soon.



    ARM has been sticking around for quite some time, despite not having a full Windows support. I don't recall ARM being among the list of supported architectures for any desktop version of Windows. Expecting Microsoft to maintain another architecture for ARM netbooks is a bit much, I don't see where it makes good business sense for MS to do so, it's a lot of work for a return of very questionable viability.



    As someone else noted, Apple has silicon design capabilities now, they can carry it on as long as they need to to ensure a smooth transition should development of new ARM designs cease. Last I've heard, Apple has a version of OS X running on Intel architecture, seems like they should be able to make the jump if they needed to.
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