CES: Intel, Qualcomm Go Head-to-Head

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Intel ( INTC) made plenty of noise at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday, setting out its 2013 chip roadmap for mobile devices such as super-skinny Ultrabooks and tablets.

A few hours later, though, the world's biggest chipmaker "was upstaged by Qualcomm ( QCOM) and its CES keynote," JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna said in a note, referring to CEO Paul Jacobs, who took over the opening keynote slot vacated by Microsoft's ( MSFT) Steve Ballmer.

Jacobs used his time in the spotlight to schmooze with a host of celebrities and unveil the company's next-generation Snapdragon mobile processor.

A key Apple ( AAPL) partner and key beneficiary of the push to high-speed LTE networks, great things are expected by analysts from Qualcomm in 2013.

Still, Intel left investors with plenty to chew over.

At its eagerly anticipated press event, Intel gave a sneak peek of its Bay Trail chip, a 22-nanometer version of its Clover Trail Atom processor, which will appear in Google ( GOOG) Android and Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows 8 tablets during the 2013 holiday season.

"Bay Trail doubles the performance of the current generation and will likely support full-day battery life," Nomura analyst Romit Shah said in a note. "The road map of Bay Trail appears to be more aggressive than previously planned."

Intel also provided an update on its Clover Trail offering for Windows 8, citing its presence in tablets from Dell ( DELL), HP ( HPQ), Lenovo, Acer, Asus, LG and Samsung. Mike Bell, general manager of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group, said more designs based on Clover Trail are scheduled to ship during the coming weeks.

Power, or more specifically power reduction, was one of the big themes of Intel's CES event.

The chipmaker, for example, lowered the power consumption of its Ivy Bridge chip from 17 watts to 7 watts, aiming to boost its use in convertibles and high-performance tablets. The company also announced that the 7-watt version of its Haswell Core processor, geared toward Ultrabooks and convertibles, is available now.

More than a dozen designs are in development based on the new 7-watt Haswell technology, according to Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's PC client group. Skaugen also demoed the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Ultrabook and a forthcoming Ultrabook with a detachable screen from Acer during his presentation. The devices will be among the first to offer the low-power Haswell Core when they launch during the spring, he said.

Nomura's Shah says the 7-watt processor can bring desktop-style performance typically associated with Intel's Core processors to tablet notebooks.

The next generation of Intel's Haswell processor is expected to debut in 2013, with Skaugen noting that this provides "true all-day battery life." To emphasize his point, the Intel executive held up a prototype convertible Ultrabook/tablet which offers up to 13 hours of battery life.

Intel has thrown its weight behind Ultrabooks in an attempt to offset pressure in the PC market. Skaugen said nearly 140 Ultrabook designs based on its chip technology are shipping today.

Clearly, Ultrabooks are critical for Intel, and could drive profits, according to Lazard Capital Markets, which upgraded the chipmaker from "neutral" to "buy" on Monday. The impact of Ultrabooks was a key factor in the upgrade, with Lazard Capital Markets predicting improving demand.

Prior to CES, there had been rumors that Intel could make a major set-top box announcement in Las Vegas, although this failed to materialize.

Instead, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm announced a collaboration with Comcast ( CMCSA) to bring its XFINITY TV to Ultrabooks and Intel-based PCs and tablets. A video gateway developed by Arris ( ARRS) containing Intel cable modem technology will be used to deliver XFINITY TV across multiple screens in the home.

The silicon giant also discussed its efforts in the smartphone market, an area where it's perceived as a laggard. On Monday, Intel announced a new low-power Atom processor and smartphone reference design, aimed at the lower end of the phone market.

Intel shares crept up 0.1% to $21.28 on Tuesday, while Qualcomm shares slipped 0.3% to $63.83.

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-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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