Thanks largely to Nvidia, GPUs have almost eclipsed CPUs as a technology driving advancement. When it comes to AI, especially on the training side, GPUs reign supreme. In general, GPUs make our games and even the most advanced photo and video editing tools work better — and with social media, many people are becoming creation experts.
But while AMD, Nvidia, and, more recently, Intel have played in this highly competitive space, all three have come to market recently with distinct strategies, each with unique benefits, risks, and opportunities. As we here in the US recover from our Thanksgiving food coma, let’s explore these strategies.
Then we’ll close with our product of the week: Microsoft’s new Arm-based Surface Pro 9 that could point to the near future of PC advancement.
Marketing Strategies: The Apple Example
My first degree was in merchandising, which deals with branding, shelving, product placement, and product strategy. As a result, I’m a little fascinated with how different companies approach the PC market.
For example, Apple is old school, vertically integrated, and uses lock-in to mine its base for money. This strategy resulted in massive profits, but the company was no longer able to lead the market with innovation. Granted, public companies are measured by profits, not innovation, and if you had to choose one over the other as a CEO who wants to keep your job, profits would also be your focus.
Except for the Microsoft Surface, other PC companies are more liberal, have higher interoperability, no lock-in, and enjoy far more innovation but face less customer loyalty and smaller margins. But they are also less likely to fail catastrophically because they are not mining their customers for money.
IBM’s near collapse in the early 1990s was largely due to a strategy similar to that of Apple. This happened because the clients usually do not like to stake money or do mining for money for extreme profits. Eventually, a company using this approach goes too far, and its customers leave the platform. This is roughly what happened with IBM and it prejudged the strategy Apple still uses.
For now, the strategy still works for Apple. However, this probably won’t work for Dell, HP, or Lenovo, because none of those companies can afford the Microsoft part of the solution individually and because their enterprise buyers are aware of the tactics used by Apple and have common Normally try to avoid it. Plague – Because it reduces customer power and corporations love buyer power a lot.
Having said that, while Apple’s marketing efforts have declined significantly since the departure of Steve Jobs in both magnitude and execution, Apple still leads the PC market in marketing, indicating that it once was under Jobs. How much was ahead, even though the company was far less profitable. Then.
Marketing goes to the core of the GPU strategies that we will be discussing.
Nvidia is arguably the segment leader and displays with it’s deepest line, and it’s the only one of the three with a Halo product. It’s interesting because on the CPU side, AMD’s Threadripper spun that market on its ear and allowed AMD to move aggressively on Intel’s workstation opportunity. It usurped key leadership positions for AMD and Lenovo, using it in part to gain segment dominance.
On the GPU side, the closest thing to AMD’s Threadripper is Nvidia’s 4090 RTX card, which is a beast. It performs more than most need and draws so much power that it’s melting power connectors and forcing power supply upgrades to run the part. But, in terms of raw performance, now no one in its segment can touch it.
A halo strategy uses an expensive showcase product to attract people to the brand and, if done correctly, can lead to increased sales of more affordable products that will sell in higher volumes. In the automobile market, it’s like having a Mercedes-Maybach or a supercar (Ford most recently used the Ford GT) to drive people to the dealership.
Since there is no such thing as an Nvidia store, the traffic aspect of the 4090 RTX remains untested and untapped. However, it still gives Nvidia performance bragging rights and solidifies its perceived market leadership, even though most buyers will be buying more affordable and underpowered alternatives.
As mentioned, it’s interesting that, given AMD’s success with Threadripper, it hasn’t come up with a similar strategy, which would be a Threadripper CPU and Threadripper-like GPU in a killer workstation or gaming rig. For now, it’s the Nvidia 4090 RTX card.
Instead, AMD has pulled out two cards in the performance sweet spot. Unlike what Ford did with the Ford GT, GM did with the Corvette, specifically with the new C8. It provides most of the performance advantages that the Ford GT offers in a far more useful and affordable fashion, allowing the Corvette to massively outperform the Ford GT while costing a fraction of what the Ford costs.
The idea of performance at a price you can afford resonates with buyers and doesn’t create some of the image problems that a halo product can create, such as excessive cost and excessive power use, resulting in negative coverage It is possible sustainability.
Buyers love the values, and while you don’t get the same performance bragging rights or visibility as with a Halo product, you also don’t have a problem with a part that’s pushing performance boundaries resulting in meltdowns. There may be problems like connectors (which Nvidia reports are still few in number and may be the result of assembly errors).
Intel is new to this market and has two big problems. The first is that people know and trust GPU parts from AMD and Nvidia, and the second is that those two companies are chasing each other so hard that it’s hard for another firm to catch them from behind. Almost impossible. Intel needs to build market share and performance isn’t up to the top end, but it can deliver on features.
This approach is closer to how Honda entered the car market by creating an affordable part that offers features beyond its price class and where the real volume is, especially during a tight financial market where consumers are more willing to spend their money. are looking.
Right now, people are becoming very frugal, and Intel is working hard for the frugal buyer who only has the budget for an entry-level part. Intel’s cards aren’t performing competitively with Nvidia’s and AMD’s top offerings, but they’re a fraction of the price and have many of the same features typically not in cards in Intel’s sub-$300 price bracket.
Wrapping Up: The Best Strategy
The plan of action that best reflects the seller’s capabilities is the one to implement. The halo product strategy works for Nvidia as it must maintain its mark of the performance leader in the segment.
Given the success of AMD’s Threadripper, I’m surprised AMD hasn’t employed a similar strategy. Still, its approach to providing all the performance you need and creating an impression of superior performance value is in line with the historical brand image AMD has built against Intel, where it was historically the value play.
Intel doesn’t yet have the performance to compete with AMD or Nvidia at the high end, but it has a similar feature set, and the idea of providing value play is the only way it’s open. The timing was fortunate for Intel as the market is looking for higher valuations given current economic conditions, providing a significant boost to Intel’s outlook.
So, Intel’s approach isn’t the only one the company can currently execute. Luckily, it was incredibly well timed, suggesting it will be far more successful this year than it otherwise would have been.
surface pro 9
The Surface was built to compete with Apple and has many of the same features: a limited, focused line, a design-forward configuration that’s as much art as it is function, and a premium experience.
Microsoft missed out by making its stores Microsoft stores instead of Surface stores, so the stores tend to underperform their Apple counterparts. But Microsoft is a fundamentally different company and needs to keep Dell, Lenovo, HP and others happy, I understand how this decision came about. I think it was wrong, given its aim.
That said, the Surface Tablet was the primary weapon it had, when it first came to market, against the threat the iPad represented: a tablet that had long battery life, was extremely light, and at the time, effectively Was positioned as a laptop killer.
Steve Jobs, who piloted that product, died and since then Apple has decided not to replace the laptop with the iPad. Instead, it wants people to buy both, stalling the replacement effort.
But Microsoft didn’t get that memo. The initial surface was somewhat patchy. It would run Office, but its battery life was poor for a tablet. Over the years, both performance and battery life have improved.
This most recent Surface Pro 9 Arm Edition is the ultimate tablet. It does the best job of providing an iPad-like experience while still delivering PC-level performance. In fact, in some cases, it outperforms PC performance due to its unique AI NPU (Neural Processing Unit).
Surface Pro 9 | Image credit: Microsoft
I initially noticed a drop in performance in Microsoft Hello’s facial recognition capability. Normally, it takes a few seconds for a typical PC to recognize you, and this new Arm-based Surface Pro 9 does it almost instantly. My desktop PCs with specialized cameras are not as fast.
The video game I play most often is City of Heroes. On low performing PCs, it has to be scaled back to run on an arm machine, and it crashes or fails to load. However, on this new Surface Pro 9, it loaded and ran and even gave me advanced graphics options that I usually don’t get unless I’m running a discrete GPU (although, I hope , if I turn them on, the frame rate will be unplayable). Still, the fact that the game even loaded and was playable was a first with such a tablet, especially a running arm.
Another interesting aspect of this latest Surface Pro 9 tablet is that it accepts not only the proprietary magnetic Surface charger but also a generic USB-C charger. I really like the magnetic charger because I trip over the power cord, and if you pull on it the cable detaches and doesn’t cause the laptop to fall to the floor. On the other hand, a USB-C charger is much more useful as you can use a third-party charger, borrow a charger or even use it to charge your phone.
The optional pen and keyboard are now nicely nested together (I’m forever losing the pen). While I generally prefer a larger screen and a notebook form factor, this latest Surface was surprisingly usable and incredibly portable. At less than two pounds, with up to 19 hours of battery life, 5G WAN capability, and vastly improved video conferencing camera features (thanks to that NPU), I think the Surface Pro 9 is the future of ultra-portable products.
When Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9 launched, I knew it would be very different, and it is. It’s the first Arm-based product I’ve tested that not only feels compromised but outperforms its x86 counterpart in battery life, connectivity, and conferencing, which begs the question: What will the next generation do?
Ultimately, I think the Surface Pro 9 arm product is a milestone for the next generation of PCs, and it’s my product of the week. Let’s hope Microsoft does the same for the Surface Laptop!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.