RealTime IT News

New Intel Platforms 'Sooner Than You Think'?

SAN FRANCISCO -- What do you do when you're losing market share to a feisty competitor and your best competitive response is months away from shipping?

If you're Intel, you emphasize better chips will be here "sooner than you think."

That was one of the themes during morning keynotes by Intel executives here at the Intel Developers Conference. The company used a prototype quad-core system for much of its onstage presentations.

Partners such as HP, IBM and Microsoft were onstage with Intel to push the advantages of its newly christened Core Microarchitecture, which encompasses mobile, desktop and server processors due the second half of this year.

"Even though we've been under tremendous competitive pressure, we're tremendously excited about what we're doing," said Intel CTO Justin Rattner.

Intel rival AMD has made inroads into Intel's dominant share of the market in servers and smaller gains on the desktop and mobile side. It has 20 percent overall share worldwide for the first time since 2001.

Rattner emphasized Intel's advantages in having already moved to a 65 nanometer manufacturing process that allows it to make chips more efficiently. AMD isn't expected to make a similar switch until much later this year if not 2007.

Intel also presented its forthcoming Merom platform for mobile systems. Rattner said users can expect a handsome gain in performance -- about 20 percent -- relative to Core Duo. But he said he is more excited about the desktop.

Its Conroe platform, due next quarter, would offer a 40 percent improvement in performance and more than a 40 percent reduction in power use, Rattner said. Conroe will be Intel's third generation dual-core client. According to Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president of Intel's digital enterprise, the Conroe release isn't a major retooling, but a huge leap. The biggest since the Pentium III, he said.

From its Woodcrest server, users can expect as much as an 80 percent improvement in performance and 35 percent savings on power, Rattner said.

HP said it will be moving aggressively to get Intel's Core Microarchitecture into its ProLiant servers and blades next quarter.

HP showed a test system based on Woodcrest and in a demo compared it to a competitive Sun workstation running a Monte Carlo analysis. The sample app ran about 34 percent faster on the HP system and used 5 percent less power.

Gary Campbell, CTO of storage and servers at HP, told internetnews.com that Intel's and AMD's performances regularly leapfrog each other's, which is why HP supports them both.

"We're excited about being able to offer that choice," said Campbell. "The performance per watt we're seeing with Woodcrest is outstanding and it's really designed for a new platform, which is what we're doing with our blade systems. We see similar opportunities with [AMD's] Opteron."

Though the Sun system has been out since last year and may well be upgraded by the time HP ships, Gelsinger said he's confident Intel will retain an edge.

"The platforms we're showing today [which also included systems from Dell and IBM] are not full tuned, and we expect ... substantially higher performance than anyone else when they're delivered by a good margin with the best energy efficiency," Gelsinger said.

"AMD's had a good run, but gains are going to be harder to come by with everything Intel's coming out with," Mike Feibus, analyst with TechKnowledge Strategies, told internetnews.com. "But I'm still impressed by AMD's server performance, their performance per watt and roadmap going forward."