Intel: Take Advantage of IT

SAN FRANCISCO — As if in direct response to Nicholas Carr’s May 2003 criticism that “IT Doesn’t Matter,” Intel CEO Craig Barrett replied with a resounding — “IT matters a whole lot!”

“Without the latest IT infrastructure, we couldn’t design our next generation processors,” said Barrett during his keynote at OracleWorld here. “Let me take that one step further and say without the latest IT infrastructure, we couldn’t make our chips. We couldn’t even see the millions of transistors embedded on the chips we make without IT.”

Intel’s top man was on hand as part of the OracleWorld 2003 Conference here. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is one of several top-tier vendors professing support for Oracle and its new range of products designed to turn reserve computing power into one powerful grid.

Carr’s opinion, submitted in the Harvard Business Review, has been dividing the industry lately on its suggestion that the information technology sector is following the same path as other commoditized technologies like railroads or electric power.

Whereas earlier in the day when Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy seemed to want customers to think less about the smaller parts of networks and look at the whole enchilada, Barrett systematically dismantled the argument pointing to various examples: an online P2P distribution model from digital music service Musicmatch; real-time 3D rendering software from Skyline Technology using Oracle 10g and Intel Itanium 2 on blade servers ; and a new 2004 Ford GT. The muscle car is expected to rival a Ferrari.

Ford said 30 engineers were given the task to build three working models in less than 22 months from design to production. Barrett, who rode in the high-rev engine street machine onstage, said IT makes innovation possible.

“This would never have happened without IT infrastructure,” he said pointing out that it’s his company’s chips that power most of the systems that make the networks.

“We get really excited about our square centimeter solution, but it only matters when it does something to increase your performance,” he said.

Bottom line though, Barrett says companies should focus on using Intel chips to converge content at business, home or on the road.

“Act on change or change will act on you,” he advised conference attendees. “Make IT part of your advantage. Be creative and use it to help your business, but get the best possible cost.”

Barrett says despite a fractured U.S. public policy towards information technology, the rest of the world seems to be adopting an overall strategy, one that foresees an increasing number of knowledge professionals.

“There is a 100x effect from Taiwan alone,” Barrett said. “They have 25 million people but they are a major power when it comes to PC manufacturing and will have an impact on communications manufacturing; all this from a tiny island country. If you combine Russia, India and Taiwan you have enormous potential. China will have a 10x impact on its own merits, and will be something that we will have to deal with.”

Part of the company’s strategy is to build its Itanium 2 processor family. Intel Monday debuted two new processors designed for dual processor systems. Both parts are expected to find their ways in enterprise network edge and large-scale databases.

The two new processors are the Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.4GHz, with a 1.5 MB level three cache (part of the Madison core) and the low voltage Intel Itanium 2 processor, at 1 GHz with a 1.5 MB L3 cache (code-named Deerfield). The chips come with list prices of $1,172 and $744 in 1,000-unit quantities, respectively.

The company says the 1.4GHz Madison’s price point is perfect for sub-$7,000 systems but is better than using its cluster-popular Xeon because it keeps Itanium-based systems heterogeneous.

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