As the reserves of computer components deplete at OEMs, in the channel and at retailers, Intel Corp.'s new code-named Sandy Bridge processors and systems on their base are likely to enjoy not only fast ramp, but also may significantly boost the company's sales. Moreover, Intel's upcoming Oak Trail platform for tablets may also be very successful, according to analyst with UBS.
“We believe the PC component inventory cycle has bottomed, with supportive comments from PC supply chain companies. Although there is still risk to sell-through, the inventory bottoming process sets up Intel to leverage the Sandy Bridge product cycle to drive near seasonal growth patterns through 2011 and potentially raise ASPs, which would be positive for margins…On a more optimistic view for the PC sector and increasing confidence of the strength of Sandy Bridge, we upgrade Intel," said Uche Orji, an analyst with UBS, in a note to clients.
UBS also expects Intel's forthcoming Oak Trail components to be well-suited to compete in the slate PC market. While there is not a lot of information available about those tablets at the moment, it seems that the checks by UBS imply that there is a list of manufacturers ready to release Oak Trail-based tablets.
"As Intel drives ultra-low voltage versions of Sandy Bridge into ultrathin notebooks and its Oak Trail platform (we expect mainly) into Windows 7 and MeeGo tablets as well as ultrathin netbooks, we believe there could be enough excitement around x86 processors in new form factors that help to mitigate the tablet threat," added Mr. Orji.
It is interesting to note that according to the UBS analyst there are no credible predictions about the market of x86-based tablets in 2011. As a result, it is completely unclear whether x86 slates will be a completely new category, or will simply slowdown the expansion of ARM-powered tablets.
"While tablet forecasts for 2011 in excess of 50 million are not unreasonable (our Atmel touch controller forecasts infers a tablet market size of 56m), none of these forecasts are likely to fully incorporate the scenario of a significant counter-attack from a new generation of notebooks and x86-based tablets that could ultimately limit the growth of ARM-based tablets (at least those that are non-Apple)," said the analyst.