Intel has had a great deal of success with the Atom series of CPUs, especially in the netbook market, which surprisingly has been good news for the channel.
Although solution providers realize very little margin on the sales of netbook computers, the services the devices enable are a different story. For example, many providers have been able to use inexpensive netbook PCs to entice their customers to adopt new technologies that shift the financial burden from the end point back to the data center – such as hosted applications, virtual desktops, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions and remote access solutions.
Intel is looking to expand on the success of the Atom processor by developing new markets for the diminutive CPU, as revealed by CEO Paul Otellini on the company’s first-quarter conference call.
“There is Atom in netbooks and then there is Atom going into other products,” Otellini said. “Atom going into other products is design cycle and you will see other kinds of products with Atom in it over the course of this year. The next innovation coming out on Atom is Dual Core, which comes out in the second quarter. So that will ramp for the holiday season this year and I think that will be a very attractive product … You will see us use technology to make the platform a bit better each time or to integrate more features and make it cheaper.”
Those comments bode well for a future where Atom CPUs will start appearing in embedded devices, smartphones and tablet PCs. Each of those developments will create opportunities for channel players looking to build revenue from “smart” technologies, such as smart homes, unified communications and alternative input devices. With the success of the Atom powered netbook market, Intel’s next-generation Atoms will be sure to find their way into new and powerful handheld devices that will complement hosted and virtualized services, as well as unified communications products. Solution providers will need to pay close attention to the developments around the Atom CPU and perhaps be able to get on the ground floor of the next big thing.