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Major Component Sourcing Shift for Samsung

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At the Computex Fair held in Taipei this week, Samsung unveiled two new versions of both its 8 inch and new 10 inch Galaxy Tab 3 tablet devices.  Beyond the product release headline was a supply chain milestone, that being the first use of an Intel sourced processor in a Samsung mobile based product. Samsung had previously sourced processor chips from ARM Holdings. The 10 inch Galaxy will utilize Intel’s Atom chip that leverages the Clovertrail+ architecture

As noted in a posting on All Things Digital, Intel has been touting the suitability of its chips for Android phones and tablets, but has struggled to get many design wins. Most devices use rival chips from ARM, Qualcomm and Nvidia, while Samsung also has its own line of Exynos processors that have made their way into many Galaxy products. The announcement from Samsung is touted as a significant new design win for Intel.  At the same Computer Fair, Intel also presented a reference design for a proposed Merrifield processor for use in mobile smartphones.

What is most interesting regarding this announcement were previous industry rumors that Apple was possibly evaluating the use of Intel processors in its tablet products. Obviously, Intel was looking to make a presence in one or two of the most recognized and highest scale supply chains in consumer electronics, not to mention having to compensate for a declining trend in shipments involving personal computers. However, as other business media has pointed out, a partnership with Samsung is no guarantee, given Samsung’s abilities to design its own line of mobile based processors.

In any case, what seems apparent is that Intel is on a mission to have its processor components designed in more tablets and smartphones, but the landscape of players and potential competitiveness is far different than the more gentile PC industry. Intel cannot just offer big marketing bucks to gain a foothold.  Getting one’s product design adopted into a major product is always a challenge anchored in collaboration, even for a giant such as Intel.

Sourcing professionals should keep an eye on this evolving mobile industry scenario since it has the potential to be rather interesting.

Bob Ferrari

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