Intel goes to war with Nvidia and Qualcomm

“Whatever has been done can be outdone, and in ways we haven’t imagined yet.” Those were the words that Intel chose to open its Computex 2024 keynote with, and those words were spoken by the AI version of its co-founder, Gordon Moore.

Intel stands by the words of its co-founder, though, while some big names in the tech space disagree — such as Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang. Huang has been pretty vocal about his belief that Moore’s Law is no longer practical, going as far as to say that “Moore’s Law is dead” in 2022. Now, not for the first time, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger fired back with another take on the matter.

“We look now to have a billion transistors on a single chip, and even looking to [having] a trillion transistors in a single package by the end of the decade,” said Gelsinger of Intel’s plans. “Unlike what Jensen might have you believe, Moore’s Law is alive and well.”

It’s no wonder that Gelsinger mentioned Moore’s Law throughout the presentation, but to hear him take a solid dig at Huang was more of a surprise. According to Gelsinger, Moore’s Law isn’t just alive and well — it’s thriving, with Intel expecting to build a chip with a trillion transistors in a single package by the end of the decade.

Intel’s keynote was largely focused on AI. Gelsinger covered Intel’s data center business before moving on to things like Lunar Lake processors and interesting laptops from its partners, all set for Microsoft’s Copilot+. Throughout the presentation, the Intel CEO made some interesting comments regarding its rival Qualcomm and Arm, but also fired back in an ongoing public debate with Huang.

It all comes down to Moore’s Law and whether it’s “dead.” Moore’s Law is centered around Gordon Moore’s idea that the number of transistors in a computer chip will double approximately every two years. While this was true for a long time, progress has slowed down significantly in recent years. After all, there are only so many times you can double the number of anything before doing so becomes an unachievable target, both from a technological and economic standpoint.

Nvidia isn’t the only company that Gelsinger had words for. The Intel CEO also spoke about Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite and the idea of Windows on Arm. “Since there’s been some talk about this other X Elite chip, and its superiority to the x86 — I just want to put that to bed right now. Ain’t true. Lunar Lake, running in our labs today, outperforms the X Elite on the CPU, on the GPU, and on AI performance, delivering a stunning 120 TOPS of total platform performance. And it’s compatible, so you don’t need any of those compatibility issues, this is x86 at its finest, every enterprise, every customer, every historical driver and capability simply works. This is a no-brainer. Everyone should upgrade.”

Later on, in a Q&A session that took place after Intel’s keynote, Gelsinger dug a little deeper into why x86 is still superior to Arm.

“This is not the first Windows on Arm announcement, right? And the x86 market share has remained very hot, you need to have a reason to change. So, if you believe what I showed on stage today, literally the best CPU, the best graphics, the best NPU, and very compelling battery life — why would you change?” he said, as quoted by PC Gamer.

Seeing Moore’s face appear on screen at Computex is an eerie experience that can serve as a reminder that AI isn’t perfect yet — thankfully. There’s a certain hint of uncanny valley that’s hard to get rid of. On the other hand, hearing a quote that was said nearly 60 years ago still apply today certainly gives a bit of perspective.

The next few years will show whether Intel can truly keep chasing Moore’s Law and claim that it’s alive and well, and they will also serve to prove whether Gelsinger’s belief in the superiority of the x86 platform will remain. Qualcomm certainly does not agree.

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Monica J. White

Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the “PC building is just like expensive…

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