Intel Wants to Be Inside Everything

Chips that act as the brains of electronic devices other than computers or mobile phones are known as embedded processors and represent a $10 billion market, according to Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini. That’s small compared with the $34.5 billion market for PC processors. Intel will have $43 billion in revenues this year, according to analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Of that, only about $1 billion comes from embedded products, says the company. Still, Atom sales are growing fast, and the company is counting on the chip to help break its dependence on the slowing PC market. “There’s a limit to where their core business will take them,” says Alex Vallecillo, a fund manager at PNC Capital Advisors.

Although Atom chips aren’t as powerful as the ones that run PCs, they’re much cheaper, which makes them economical for powering all kinds of devices. Nautilus puts Atom chips into its treadmills to stream Internet video onto built-in displays and upload the times and distances from workouts, Intel Vice-President Doug Davis says. Digital advertising signage is another growth market for Intel, says Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities in San Francisco. LG Electronics is using Atom chips in signs that will recognize the age, gender, and other characteristics of passersby and change the advertising pitch accordingly—similar to electronic billboards in the 2002 Steven Spielberg science fiction film Minority Report. Since Atoms also use little power and don’t require bulky batteries to run, they’re popping up in unexpected parts of the world. In India, banks are using them in handheld terminals that serve rural areas off the electricity grid. Once a month or so, an itinerant teller visits a village, giving locals access to loans and other banking services.

Image representing Intel as depicted in CrunchBase

Intel is counting on its Atom embedded processors to help break its dependence on the slowing PC market

By Ian King

Two years ago, Intel (INTC) held a contest for college students, asking them to come up with new uses for the company’s Atom processor. One proposal: a shower that regulates water temperature and plays music from the Internet. While Intel doesn’t plan to enter the shower market, it is putting its chips into gas pumps, cars, musical instruments, and other devices where few processors have gone before. Leer más “Intel Wants to Be Inside Everything”