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Platformization: The Big Thing to Get Even Bigger

Whether we want it or not, but the economic crisis actually defines quite a lot of business and technology decisions. In 2009 computer manufacturers will have to deliver the best possible products very rapidly to market. In order to achieve this, PC makers will need a robust set of chips that are designed to work with each other. As a result, we’ll see importance of pre-defined platforms to increase.

Presently both Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. can provide central processing units (CPUs) as well as core-logic sets developed to work with each other flawlessly along with reference designs for mainboards and/or whole systems. This greatly simplifies development of modern personal computers and allows PC suppliers to bring the latest technology to market as soon as possible.

Due to the economic slump, PC vendors will have to achieve several goals:

  • Bring higher-performance systems with richer feature-set to market as fast as possible.
  • Buy computer components from as few makers as possible in order to get discounts due to high volumes.
  • Maximize savings on compatibility and interoperability tests.
  • Minimize the end-user price.

The goals are likely to be achieved, which means hard times for AMD’s ATI unit as well as Nvidia Corp. At this point of time Intel can provide fast CPUs and decent chipsets with integrated graphics, which will be very important in cases of both desktop and mobile computers. Meanwhile, ATI can either sell AMD-compatible chipsets or graphics processing units (which are naturally compatible with any platform), which will be in demand by performance desktop systems, but will be hardly used by mobile computers. Nvidia seems to have similar troubles as ATI: its chipset business is likely to face very hard challenge with AMD’s and  Intel’s, whereas its mobile graphics chips will have to fight a way through PC makers’ intentions to make PCs as affordable as possible. On the desktop side things are unlikely to change much for Nvidia, though: people will need proper graphics cards, as we observed earlier.

Even though concentration on platforms will be forced by economic crisis in 2009, PC vendors are very likely to adopt the same policy going forward, which will change the market considerably. We should wait and see whether such situation will bring any benefits to actual end-users after 2009.

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