Game (Not) Over
Intel may be late to the party, but that may not mean much in the long term. The company has ambitious catch-up plans. Thorne says the chipmaker has more than 15 multicore projects under way.
“Aided by our investment and advantage in manufacturing, we currently have a goal for 85 percent of our server processors and 70 percent of mobile and desktop processors to be dual core capable by the end of 2006,” he says.
In other words: Intel is planning to ship dual-core Intel Itanium processors before the end of this year and follow up rapidly with the release of dual-core Intel Xeon processors in the first quarter of 2006. By then, Intel will have mobilized an army of system and software vendors supporting its dual-core offerings. Thus, we could be looking at a scenario similar to the one that unfolded with 64-bit technology — AMD took a big early lead, became the darling of the market, only to be surpassed in sales by the slumbering giant.
We could be looking at a scenario similar to the one that unfolded with 64-bit technology — AMD took a big early lead, became the darling of the market, only to be surpassed in sales by the slumbering giant.
“As you saw with x86 64-bit processors, the competition had over a one year head start on technology delivery to the market,” says Thorne. “Yet within six months of Intel’s launch of the 64-bit Xeon processors, we had sold three times as many x86 64-bit processors than our competitor in a third of the time.”
It’s his premise that enterprise customers are not early adopters. They wait at least six to nine months after a new product’s initial arrival before buying. In the interim, they evaluate it throughout and then validate it on their own systems. Being first to market, then, may not deliver the big advantage AMD hoped.
Meanwhile, just as Intel is gearing up to extend the reach of its dual-core product portfolio, AMD is racing at full speed to extend dual core across its entire range. The company is so convinced that dual core is the way of the future that it intends to move all of its Opteron chips to dual core in the near term.
How near term? An ambitious time line has all AMD Opteron server and workstation chips being converted to dual-core technology by the end of 2006.
“There is no doubt that dual core is the future,” says Patla. “We intend to make a rapid and 100-percent transition to dual-core Opteron chips.”