June 05, 2012 at 16:01 PM EDT
Intel, AMD, ARM Joust for Notebook Success at Computex
It's time to check in with the mammoth computer conference going on in Taipei, Taiwan this week, Computex 2012 , where some folks from the Street are kicking the tires on the latest and greatest in laptops, tablets and all the rest form Microsoft ( MSFT ) , Intel ( INTC ) and partners, and, especially the " ultrabook " line of laptop computers the duo are encouraging hardware makers to pursue. For a quick rundown of the new kit that was shown, check out a post this morning by Patrick Moorhead , the tech pundit and former Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD ) executive, over at TechPinions. Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets today reflects on his meeting with LCD panel makers for computers at the show, whose feedback suggests a somewhat better shape to the latter half of the year for panel shipments relative to what was a weak second half last year. That depends on their not being a further economic deterioration globally. As for ultrabooks: Regarding Ultrabooks at the panel makers, one company indicated that Ultrabook programs are running a bit below expectations thus far, while another panel maker discussed strong trends and a healthy margin profile. At Computex, Asustek (2357-NT$291: NR) unveiled a wide array of well designed new tablets, Ultrabooks and hybrid devices, including Windows 8-based (including Windows RT) products running on Intel (INTC-$25.04: NR) and NVIDIA (NVDA-$11.73: NR) processors. The panel makers expect to more aggressively ramp these new ultrabook programs in 3Q12 and many new Windows 8-based tablets are expected to be in production. Additionally, we were warned that there will be many "Ultrabook-like" products in the market that are not true Ultrabooks due to pressure on OEMs to cut corners on costs. For example, lower SSD content through hybrid solutions is one way to reduce costs and price points. Williams Financial Group 's Cody Acree writes that Intel and partners may be having trouble bringing down prices, and he actually sees some improved prospects for competing laptops running chips from AMD, which don't come with the ultrabook brand, but which aim to achieve similar feats of slimness and lightness: As expected there are a multitude of Intel-based Ultrabooks being displayed, however in our view the number is less than we expect was originally anticipated as relatively high price points averaging around $1,000 have caused some OEMs/ODMs to reduce emphasis on the category. Intel is pushing for reduced costs and for the ecosystem to drive innovative ways to bring prices down, however with touch screens about to be added to the platform specification, we expect strict Ultrabook prices to remain above mainstream for the near-term. A stand-out is AMD based derivatives that are allowing OEMs/ODMs to offer more competitive prices solutions, while maintaining many of the Ultrabook features. We believe this, and the improved performance of AMD’s offerings will drive share gains over the next several quarters. Nomura Equity Research 's Romit Shah writes that the first tablets using Windows are overwhelmingly of the x86 variety, Intel's instruction-set architecture, but that there are some models running on chips based on designs by Intel rival ARM Holdings ( ARMH ):
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