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Intel Pushes Key to e-Business: Macroprocessing

NEW YORK -- With TECHXNY in full swing at the Jacob Javits Center, Intel Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Sales and Marketing Michael Splinter on Wednesday used the keynote spotlight to evangelize Intel's latest concept of "macroprocessing" in hopes of making the marketing campaign as ubiquitous as IBM's eBusiness brand.

According to Intel, macroprocessing is a deployment model the company defines as applying the volume economics, performance leadership and industry innovation found in the microprocessor to the demands and opportunities of the new Internet-enabled enterprise.

In simplier terms, Intel is clearly using macroprocessing as part of an e-business strategy to re-invigorate infrastructure build-up and push its flagship offerings in the e-business solutions arena: the Pentium 4 and Xeon processors, Intel Itanium processors and its forthcoming Pentium III processors-M based on 0.13 micron process technology (code-named Tualatin).

"We think e-business is going to spread across the corporation," Splinter told a modest crowd.

"Despite booms and busts, the industry is still in the embryonic stage of the Internet and e-business build-out," Splinter said. "For companies to fully reap the benefits of e-business, they must demand collaboration from the technology industry to deliver a broad choice of high-performing computing solutions that are less expensive, more flexible and don't require customers to rely on any one company."

In other words, the realities of the emerging e-business landscape will drive corporations to adapt their compute models from rigid proprietary systems to more flexible, open platforms that can bring together the processing power of mainframe computing, the ubiquity of PCs and the connectivity of the Internet.

In the server space, Splinter said 17 server and workstation manufacturers have announced Itanium-based systems to date, and the company expects that number will increase to 25 manufacturers offering more than 35 different form factors by the end of the year.

But while the company has made in-roads in the 64-bit server space, Intel and its server partners also face the same old competitors (Sun Microsystems, IBM) as well as new competitors such as RLX Technologies, which is demonstrating the first server based on Transmeta's 5600 Crusoe chip using 32-bit technology.

"A majority of the server market is 32-bit and will be for some time," said Ed McKernan, director of market at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta.

Meanwhile, Intel has been shipping 0.13 micron-based Pentium IIIs since May and, with the third quarter release of its Tualatin mobile Pentium III processor-M, the chip giant plans to wage war against Transmeta with speeds in excess of 1 GHz. Splinter claimed that the products operate on one watt.

"These products are bringing new and higher performance to the laptop," Splinter said.

But up-and-comer Transmeta, which on Monday announced its own microprocessors (the TM5800 and the TM5500) based on 0.13 micron technology, argues that Intel's claims technically aren't accurate.

According to McKernan, Intel's wattage figures only measure the CPU power draw -- not an intermediary processor inside of Intel-based PCs called the Northbridge chip that routes signals from the CPU to and from either the DRAM or the I/O processor (referred to as Southbridge). Northbridge chips consume 3.3 watts of power.

By comparison, Transmeta incorporates functionality of Northbridge into one chip through its proprietary Code Morphing Software (CMS), which also allows their chips to utilize only a quarter of the logic transistors -- thereby reserving power. In essense, they have transferred the processing power in a chip from the transistors to software.

Splinter said the Pentium 4 is already ramping rapidly on the desktop, and the company is scheduled to release a 1.8 GHz version in the next week or so. Splinter said a 2 GHz chip will follow in Q3 and promised the company would go beyond that speed in the fourth quarter.

Intel also plans to introduce Tualatin processors in ultra-dense and applications servers, and plans to sample its first 0.13 micron-based flash products in the fourth quarter.

Like others before him this week, Splinter played up the many benefits of e-business, from increased efficiency in all manner of business processes, to greater availability to customers and heightened customer satisfaction. Splinter pointed to Intel itself, which as recently as 1998 had no online customers.

"By 2000, we essentially moved all of our transactions onto the Internet," he said. "Our service increased dramatically."

To showcase how Intel is participating in the evolution of e-business, Splinter pointed to Groove Networks, which utilizes Intel-based servers to deliver customers real-time data collaboration an VoIP via its Groove Software Application.