Intel’s IP Roadmap – Great. Product Planning – Not So Great

Intel quickly became the leader in edge computing even though they did not begin filing patents in the space until 2017. They made up for the late start by keeping up a relentless pace in patent applications that has allowed them to leapfrog their competitors for most patent applications and total assets. However, all is not well for the undisputed leader. In July of 2020 we highlighted the potential shift in paradigms for processors following Apple’s announcement they would be creating ARM processors for their Mac products moving forward. Almost a full year later and that shift seems to be rippling out to other industries beyond personal computing. Ampere Computing, a data center processor company founded in 2017, has attracted the attention of companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Equinix for their ARM architecture server and edge computing processors. 

While Ampere does not have any patents in edge computing because they focus solely on the chips and not the platform that goes onto them, this puts them in a prime position to partner with companies like Microsoft that have a relatively small patent portfolio but have the platform for edge computing and are just in need of the hardware. It is worth noting that Microsoft was also rumored to be working on their own chips in December of 2020 and the interest in Ampere is on a trial basis, but regardless of what they decide then Intel will be losing business and other companies will likely follow.

Fresh off bringing in a new CEO recently, this is not a good industry for Intel to lose market share. A combination of poor quality control and lack of adaptability has put Intel in the position to fall behind in multiple sectors. With longtime rival AMD gaining market share in the server processor space with traditional x86 architecture, ARM architecture becoming the normal for Apple and other companies in mobile and personal computing, and now Ampere bringing ARM processors to servers and edge computing nodes, Intel is stuck with multiple companies looking to capitalize on their recent setbacks. 

All hope is not lost for Intel, after all the new CEO is just getting started on revamping the company and AMD and their manufacturer TSMC were the ones behind the curve just a few years ago. However, it will take both strategic decision making and good luck for Intel to recapture their dominant lead in processor manufacturing. Currently Intel serves as a reminder that having the most patent applications is meaningless if strategic planning is not being done for the company and the intellectual property roadmap. To keep an eye on the latest patent trends and make strategic decisions for your company, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!