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Will there ever be a new CPU manufacturer?

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  1. Jul 26, 2017 #1
    Currently in desktop CPU manufacturing, there are only 2 companies that hold practical all of market. I have read it is because Intel and AMD own licenses to x86 and x64 architecture ( Lets assume VIA is non-existent).
    Now if a new company wants to make CPUs they need to make some new CPU architecture or get the licenses, as far getting licenses goes I don't think Intel or AMD, particularly Intel, will ever want a competitor to the market. So only option left is to make a new architecture which is also impossible as it would require entire uplift of PC market like new motherboards, compilers, OSs and other essential software. If that is not enough that new architecture need to have significant improvements over existing ones for obvious reasons.

    In conclusion, I don't see any of these things happening unless tech giants like Apple, Google or hardware manufacturers like Qualcomm (I named them because they make mobile CPUs and are only inhibited by Intel into entering PC market) made it their "do whatever it takes" goal and invested sh!t ton of money into it.

    So the question is whether it is possible to break monopolies of Intel and AMD in CPU market ? Or we are struck with AMD and Intel until end of time ?
     
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  3. Jul 26, 2017 #2

    rcgldr

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    In the past, Apple desktops were based on Motorola cpu's and later Power PC cpu's, but by 2006, Apple switched to X86 / X64 cpu's.
     
  4. Jul 26, 2017 #3
    Still that is a decade old.
     
  5. Jul 26, 2017 #4

    jim mcnamara

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    Other cpus:
    Sparc stations - sparc; Itanium HP - IA64(discontinued). Sparc is used in desktops and small midrange systems, itanium sometimes in desktop special designs.

    I don't think there is all that much of a monopoly, especially considering AMD currently faring quite well against Intel. PC's in general are lagging in sales
    http://www.amd.com/en-us/press-releases/Pages/press-release-2017jan31.aspx
    http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/sun-sparc-enterprise/overview/index.html - some sparc servers are in the desktop cost range.
     
  6. Jul 26, 2017 #5
    Itanium was developed by Intel, so we should leave it.

    Yes AMD got 10% increase in market shares in this year's Q2 (Good News I guess) but for last 5 -9 years AMD has only got 20-25% market share, I guess after the launch of Core 2 Duo processors. That certainly is monopoly by Intel. I think AMD needs at least 40-45% market share for breaking monopoly of Intel.

    Performance wise also AMD is lagging behind, Ryzen is certainly a good news though.

    Not a big deal, smartphones can't compete with today's PCs.
     
  7. Jul 26, 2017 #6

    phinds

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    The problem with introducing a new CPU is not the technological challenge. For example Nvidia produces GPU's with thousands of cores and could enter the general purpose CPU market if they chose to compete in that space. The problem is who's going to buy them? First, somebody has to take on the challenge of writing an operating system to compete with Windows/Unix/Linux. Who's going to do that on spec? Who's going to write the apps? It's just too big an entry challenge to potential new CPU makers.
     
  8. Jul 26, 2017 #7
    That basically if saying that somebody needs to make another architecture because AMD and Intel are not going to give their licenses to them. Should not these licenses should be free for other companies to use since they are so ubiquitous and important ?

    An interesting fact about Nvidia is that it is no less of a monopoly in GPU market than Intel in CPU against a single common competitor AMD/ATI. From what I have read, in GPU market technological challenges are the main barrier.
     
  9. Jul 26, 2017 #8

    phinds

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    Well, if we were in Russia or China or some other communistic country, maybe. I think here in the land of capitalism, that's a terrible idea. Do you think all companies should give away their intellectual property if they become one of a few big players in a particular arena?
     
  10. Jul 26, 2017 #9

    jim mcnamara

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    Moved to General Discussion.
     
  11. Jul 26, 2017 #10
    Especially in a capitalistic economy it's important to make sure that there is a enough competition. Once a patented technology becomes so important that giving a single company the monopoly over using it leads to that company having a large monopoly in the economy, it becomes a huge problem.
    There already are antitrust laws that allow a big company to be broken up forcefully to prevent it from having too big of a monopoly. Naturally it should also be possible to take away some of a companies patents and make them public domain in the interest of a free open market.
    If it's necessary to make sure there is enough competition, then yes, of course they should.
     
  12. Jul 26, 2017 #11
    There are lots of applications for new CPU designs, and many exist, but they're mostly in high-performance computing, which is generally restricted to scientific, business and industrial usage.

    So they're not the kind of thing people are going to use at home, but they will be used by people who need extreme performance and can spend millions of dollars to achieve it.
     
  13. Jul 26, 2017 #12

    russ_watters

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    Um...by nature of what a patent is, every patented product is monopolized by its creator/owner.
     
  14. Jul 26, 2017 #13
    Exactly. And as I said, once this leads to a large monopoly on the market it poses a serious problem.
     
  15. Jul 27, 2017 #14
    Just out of curiosity, with a monopoly, what would the serious problem be?
     
  16. Jul 27, 2017 #15

    russ_watters

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    So patent protection should only be for mediocre ideas? Wouldn't that stifle innovation if good ideas weren't patentable? That doesn't really make a lot of sense. In any case, what do you mean by "serious problem"? Perhaps more to the point; what benefit do you see in bringing in another cpu manufacturer?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
  17. Jul 27, 2017 #16
    Are you asking me here what the downsides of a monopoly are? Well, this article about US antitrust law for example mentions many important points. But you could also look at this summary of the biggest problems. Interestingly that site also shows that there can be exceptions where monopolies are beneficial or even necessary but those are rare and CPU manufacturers certainly don't qualify for such an exception.

    Quite the contrary. Patent protection should only apply for really good ideas of course. In my opinion trivial or even mediocre ideas shouldn't be patentable at all.
    Whether protection of good ideas has a positive or negative impact on innovation is a difficult question by the way. Companies making money of of patents will of course claim that their effect is positive overall but actually there is no conclusive evidence either way. However there are cases where even a patent on a good idea has a clear negative effect e.g. CPUs or things like audio/video codecs or web technologies. There is a reason why many technology companies prefer free open standards over proprietary formats. When big companies like Google/Alphabet want to introduce new web technologies, they have to make them open/free otherwise they would not be accepted by the industry and for very good reason. No one likes to pay royalties for something just because it's the industry standard and they are forced to use it even though they themselves or some other company could easily develop something comparable or better. This is also a form of monopoly btw. because there is no real choice.

    And the reason for bringing in other manufacturers is of course to increase competition, which should bring down prices and improve the rate of innovation.
     
  18. Jul 27, 2017 #17
    Intel lost out to ARM in the mobile business. Now it is reacting to the AI revolution in which Nividia has a leading role. More users of computing technology are going to task specific accelerators for their speed like application-specific integrated circuits, or field-programmable gate arrays . Intel is addressing this by building a more powerful CPU to work with chips like Altera's FPGA.

    This article discusses the above in more detail. At this point the winner is ....?
     
  19. Jul 28, 2017 #18
    My opinion falls along these lines from the wiki article:
    A monopoly is not necessarily an evil, and very few would not have any competition of some sort. Any business or venture always should always be looking over its back to see what is coming up, and be innovative to not be overwhelmed. Having a bold assumption that they cannot be touched is to the detriment in the long run, for any venture whether a monopoly or not. The AT&T research arm, Bell Laboratories was financed by a so-called monopoly, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Labs, see the research done before the breakup of the company by Reagan.

    Some examples of monopolies that you have to agree in the present day are necessary, and are accepted as being necessary.
    Federal government of the USA ( or any government of any country, state, city, ... )
    National Defence - with a paid standing army.
    Federal Reserve Bank, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, ...

    With just those three examples, one can envision stability of some sort with their presence, or total anarchy with their demise.
    Even though they are monopolies in their own right, competition from around the world is evidently present.
     
  20. Jul 28, 2017 #19
    @DrZoidberg did wrote in his reply that some monopolies can be beneficial but not most and certainly not in CPU manufacturing. Just compare the prices of Ryzen 3/5/7 CPUs to 7th gen core i3/5/7 CPUs.
     
  21. Jul 29, 2017 #20
    There is a Sentence in the text you quoted that I find particularly interesting.
    While the x86 CPU market is not a real monopoly it seems to me that that sentence partially applies here. CPUs are a vitally needed resource. A huge number of people and companies are dependend on those CPUs. The existence of these patents makes the market entry for potential competitors very difficult to impossible and in this way it could be called coercive.
     
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