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Intel Technology

Crossroads for Intel 123

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the road-ahead dept.
pillageplunder writes "Businessweek offers a pretty balanced read on what challenges Intel faces in the upcoming year. Rivals Samsung and AMD are making inroads on Intels core businesses, an expected cyclical industry downturn looms next year, and with several critical delays in new (for Intel) markets puts its strategy at risk. A neat read."
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Crossroads for Intel

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  • Cyclical downturn? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tdvaughan (582870) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:08AM (#10468564) Homepage
    Could someone explain why the semiconductor industry is 'cyclical'? What is it which makes a downturn predictable, or is it a self-fulfilling thing (lack of investment during predicted downturns causes otherwise unnecessary lack of performance)?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Funny thing is a new headline I just saw. IBM Chief sees global tech spending rise.
    • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:15AM (#10468595)
      I've been on the marketing & sales side of computers for 21 years (started in Oct '83) and the only cycle I've ever been able to reliably predict is a slow down in corporate purchasing during the month of February. That does not necessarily relate at all to the semiconductor cycle, if there is one. I used to meet regularly with Intel marketing reps and they never mentioned a cycle. There may well be a longer term cycle, such as a four year or five year cycle where so many machines are bought at the beginning of a major product cycle such as the intro of the P4, for example. In that case, a lot of machines would come out of service starting at 2 years (leases) and out to five years (fully depreciated). This is all to be taken with a grain of sale of course - there are just too many variables (intervening and contravening).
      • by zogger (617870)
        ...from customers when they are new computer shopping? Are they adding primarily new boxes to what they are already running, or are they upgrading what they have? If it's upgrading, why are they upgrading?

        I'm asking the latter because it seems like computers got "good enough" for most business purposes already. But I don't *know* that, it just seems so. Is it really just because of the way business taxes are structured?
        • I'm asking the latter because it seems like computers got "good enough" for most business purposes already.

          It's seemed that way since about the P133 with 64M of RAM was a typical business desktop. Unless you're doing numerically intensive computation, any power any uses above that is just for bells and whistles. Hasn't stopped people upgrading tho'.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:18AM (#10468607)
      Most businesses are considered "cyclical". Basically, this means they do better whent he economy is better, worse when the economy is worse. i.e. they do better when people and businesses have more money to spend. People hold off buying when they don't have the money, because these are discretionary expenses.

      This is in contrast to some businesses which are fairly "noncyclical"--demand is relatively constant over time, regardless of ability to paty. Medical care is a classic example here--people don't decide to hold off on having tha heart attack until they have a better job.

      Then, there are some "countercyclical" industries--ones that do BETTER when people have less money to spend. Examples here are businesses that make "inferior" goods--cheaper substitues for more expensive products. They do better when people have less money, because in good economic times, their products are more attractive.

      To an extent, there's an aspect of being "cylical" to most businesses, but some are more tied to economic cycles than others. Intel makes a good case for being a very cyclical business--computing upgrades are a fairly discretionary expense, and delaying upgrades is a fairly common response to bad business climates. On the other hand, when the economy picks up, and people have money to spend, getting those computer upgrades they've been meaning to get for awhile becomes more attractive.
      • Most businesses are considered "cyclical". Basically, this means they do better whent he economy is better, worse when the economy is worse.

        If that is true, I have to wonder about the people that hold this definition. It is completely orthogonal to what I've always imagined "cyclical" to mean.

        I suppose "reactive" or some other definition implying direct proportionality to the amount of money being spent would scare the investment marketeers.

        Cycle very strongly implies some periodic nature to the swing
        • Cyclical means that the industry is very sensitive to overbuilding. A cyclical industry could (but does not usually) experience a down cycle in the middle of a very robust cycle. Memory has on occasion seen crashing prices even as the economy is getting stronger, and rising prices when it is getting weaker. Think of it not interms of economic cycles, but in terms of capacity addition cycles (if we underbuild prices rise, if we overbuild prices fall) add to that if we underbuild before a boom our competit
      • Don't forget product life cycle. I would think that has just as much effect on sales as does disposable income of the market place...

        FPO
    • It follows the "cycle" of Windows "upgrades".
    • I was wondering that too. I'm like "Geeze, I thought we might have another stab at the economy recovering {more, some, at all} next year."

      I kind of wonder what a Kerry election might do for all this. Not practically, as in Kerry policies, but psychologically to markets and the business community.

    • One word.. Inventory (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tanveer1979 (530624) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:48AM (#10468744) Homepage Journal
      The Semiconductor industry inventory stats are ones which give CEOs nightmares. Actually semiconductor companies mostly make chips which are sold to big buyers like Siemens(modems), ENI(modems), DELL, Nokia etc., So these companies tell the semiconductor guys I need so many chips for so many cell phones/cameras etc., And these guys over order, by a small margin. Next year new tech old models are sold for scrap and again inventories rise. In many cases over ordering reaches levels which are uncomfortable. You cant throw away 20% of your cell phones at cost price, can you? So they dont order. But Semiconductor companies have huge Fabs running. And when such cases arise you have fabs operating at half capacity or even lower. And this leads to big losses. Another problem is that a new chip comes from design to fab about 6 months before production begins, and if problems come in the chip it may actually see the vendor after one year! So what do we have here. Based on demand this year, we plan for next year and if inventories pile up its bad luck.

      If you wonder why cant semiconductor companies reduce production, the reason is that when we come out with a chip, ie design a chip there a minimum number which is required for the chip to be profitable. This number is in the range of 500000+ units. Such things are hard to predict. In case of a DSL/cable modem chips the design and conception start one and a half years before release to fab. And six months after that full blown production starts. So we have to know 2 years in advance what to do people want. Its 2 years of R&D by over 100 engineers which leads to a chip. And look at the infrastucture investment. Farms of 100s of 64bit 2GHz+ machines, Ultrasparcs etc., running for 1.5 years simulating, testing, designing.

      Get the idea? Chip design is a costly business, and unless market analysts get more accurate instead of being stupidly bullish, this cyclic downturn may be much softer
    • "Could someone explain why the semiconductor industry is 'cyclical'? What is it which makes a downturn predictable, or is it a self-fulfilling thing (lack of investment during predicted downturns causes otherwise unnecessary lack of performance)?"

      It is relatively simple: any new plant, or major refurbish of an existing plant, adds so much to capacity that demand takes a while to catch up.
      If demand grows even slightly less than forecast, Capacity utilization falls, and the company ends up running the pla
    • by nelsonal (549144)
      Normally a cyclical industry is one that involves large capacity additions which make up both a signficant amount of the productive capacity and a signficant portion of the cost of each unit. Semiconductors and tankers are both classically cyclical industries. In real terms let us imagine that you and I have built a brand new fab, we perhaps raised $500 million in equity, got grants of $500 million and borrowed $2 billion. Perhaps we decide to compete in memory manufacture. Prior to our fab going on lin
    • by supergiovane (606385) <arturo.digioia@nOSpam.ing.unitn.it> on Friday October 08, 2004 @09:51AM (#10469557)
      You're Mr. Intel. You have to explaine to your shareholders that AMD got it right and they are now driving innovation (e.g. x86-64) and now you're the one who has to catch up. What would you say?
      1. We're in deep shit, boys! You'd better invest your bucks in another company.
      2. It's the cyclical behaviour of the semiconductor history. Now we're getting hit, but next year we'll kick their asses and we'll reduce them into dust. So, don't worry and give us your money.
  • by jmcmunn (307798) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:11AM (#10468573)

    And buy a new processor to upgrade my 300Mhz PII I am running here at home. Nahh....it still loads Slashdot just fine. I'll wait till the next generation come out and then buy one of the current chips. (I have been saying that for 4 years now)
    • I would like them to only release chips within a regularly defined cycle of say 500Mhz speed increases rather than release every improvement they can squeeze out of the chip. I think people would find it easier to plan and commit to a purchase this way. I think processors are fast enough now to handle the needs of the vast majority and theres not a great deal to be gained by flooding the market with differerent processor speeds and people _always_ waiting to maybe purchase the next small incremental release
      • by joib (70841) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:52AM (#10468766)

        I would like them to only release chips within a regularly defined cycle of say 500Mhz speed increases rather than release every improvement they can squeeze out of the chip. I think people would find it easier to plan and commit to a purchase this way. I think processors are fast enough now to handle the needs of the vast majority and theres not a great deal to be gained by flooding the market with differerent processor speeds and people _always_ waiting to maybe purchase the next small incremental release.


        Umm, no. That wouldn't be a very good idea. The reason, in short, is price discrimination [wikipedia.org]. By having a wide variety of products, they can better milk the customers. And the customers win too, since they can choose which product best matches their requirement. It's a win-win situation, so to speak.
      • This is ridiculous. How many times do we have to repeat that clock speed is not the only determining factor in a processor's performance and usefulness? Simple, compare AMD, Intel, PowerPC, or even two different series of Intel chips. You'll find there's processors with lower clock speeds that perform better than others. Also what about on chip features? Especially now with SoC designs starting to become prominent in the market. What about power consumption? If Intel went with a plan like you suggest, they'
    • ....You know, I sold my semis stocks when I suddenly realized that I hadn't been pestering the Sysadmin for a new machine for my cubicle for a whole year.
    • Actually, if you're willing to invest in a few hundred dollars you can bring your computer box up to date.

      For example, if your computer case supports the ATX form factor you could get an Abit VA-10 motherboard, an AMD Sempron 2400+ boxed CPU (e.g., CPU with CPU fan already installed), and 512 MB of DDR333 DDR-SDRAM for the few hundred dollars I mentioned. The result would be dramatic increases in performance--just the CPU performance will probably be 8-10 times what you have now. :-)
    • Moderated as "Interesting?" How is that "Interesting?" Man, if there was an option for it, I'd moderate it as "inane."

      • Maybe the point was more that just because there is always a new processor out there, doesn't mean people are going to buy it. Intel can only sell so many fast processors, for so many years and expect that everyone will want to upgrade.

        My point was that since a lot of people currently have 1.5Ghz and faster machines, and there is no software that really NEEDS faster ones (I know high end games run better on faster, but that is not a need, just a desire for most) Why should anyone go buy a 3.5Ghz machine
  • by Ghoser777 (113623) <<moc.cam> <ta> <abnerhaf>> on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:11AM (#10468577) Homepage
    because it paints a major decline in the Intel empire, or because it actually has insightful commentary and information?

    And yes, I didn't RTFA.

    Matt Fahrenbacher
  • Competition is good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ancice (817863) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:11AM (#10468578)
    Competition is good. At the worse, if it doesn't accelerate the progress of better products, it will at least create a check on the dominant players.

    Although Intel is lacking on the 64bit side.

  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:13AM (#10468589) Homepage Journal
    problems at Intel, problems at Microsoft. Could it be that some companies just get too big for their own good?
    Happened to other comanies, just look at US Steel, in 1918 they represented 3% of the GDP of the US, but they got too big, and eventually competetitors, both at home and abroad ate up most of that.
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:22AM (#10468631)
      Not really comperable. Steel is a generic product where there's little brand loyalty, and essentially no product differentiation. Microsoft and Intel, on the other hand, make products that no one can make directly--you can compete with similar products, but some shop in Taiwan can't turn out Pentium IV's.
      • by ceeam (39911)
        How much of the profit (and turnaround) of Intel comes from P4? (Just curious).

        BTW, IMHO, Intel is long overdue a good PC CPU. I'd say they have not made one since P3 socketed ones. When I immediately try to talk away anyone who is going to buy a P4 it's not because I hate Intel, just the CPU is crap.

    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jkrise (535370)
      Excellent point! I think we're very lucky that mfrs. of these items do not have a near-monopoly situation:

      1. Memory.
      2. CD, DVD drives and media.
      3. Network cards.
      4. Hard disk drives.

      If one or more of these items were controlled by patents / monopolies; the situation could be alarming... Just wondering - can Intel patent it's chip pin-outs / signal levels (not the internal design) in such a way other mfrs. cannot replicate the function?

      -
      • Just wondering - can Intel patent it's chip pin-outs / signal levels (not the internal design) in such a way other mfrs. cannot replicate the function?

        I think it would be tough to patent signal levels, but didn't Intel try patenting the socket with the Pentium II?
      • Intel has a patent on the P4 bus. Intel Sued VIA when it released some chipsets for the P4. The 2 companies setteled on a cross-license agreement.
        So, Yes, Intel can and has patented the pinout and signaling for the P4 processor.
        Google is your friend. [justfuckinggoogleit.com] :)
    • I agree. I have a harder time convincing myself to invest in those huge companies. For a company to increase shareholder value it has to grow (vastly outweighs factors such as trimming costs). I believe huge companies can get to a critical mass at some point when it becomes increasingly difficult to add market share (esp. if you already have ~90%), meaning that the company has to make gambles in new markets it may not be as well versed in while also protecting its core products.
      • With the most recent tax cuts couldn't you invest for dividends instead of growth? No company can grow forever.
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cyngus (753668) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:27AM (#10469023)
      I think that's pretty much the story of corporations through all time. I think that extends even beyond corporations, to countries.

      Let's look at Intel and Microsoft. Both rose to dominance because they had a good product at the right time, with good marketing. (I'm a Mac fan, I think windows is sh*t, but there's no denying that Microsoft has made computers more accessible to a wider audience, although Apple has always made the better product.) Now both are having some problems, why? Three main reasons:
      1) Everybody targets the leader - if you're the leader in an industry everyone can see your weaknesses and target them to take you down. You're the guy to beat and people are going to try to do that.
      2)The leader is big, and knows it - the leader of an industry is typically big, has big sales, big profits. They spend accordingly and build out accordingly, adjusting to lower profits is harder when you're used to them.
      3)The leader is typically slower - 3 follows from 2, in that if you're a bigger company its harder for you to change course and take advantage of new ideas and trends. Firstly, your organization is larger and therefore harder to manage. Secondly, your customers tend to hold you more accountable to servicing them, the underdog gets more leeway, because he's the underdog.

      So companies tend to start out small, grow, become too big to adjust quickly to a changing environment and then die or breakup. Some companies (IBM is a good example)manage to just fall into decline for a while and then emerge as a power player again, but this is hard to do for several reasons such as regaining customer confidence, having enough money to engineer the turn around, and the difficulty of changing the corporate culture to fit the reinvented company.
      • There was a time between the release of Windows NT 4.0 and the advent of MacOS/X 10.1 when Microsoft arguably had the better O/S, on all fronts you can care to mention: security, usability, adherence to standards, stability, ran on better hardware (alpha!), etc.

        I'll always remember the John Carmak .plan entry when he started working on Mac/OS 8 to port Quake 3. "you have to be at peace with rebooting". It was so true it infuriated all the Mac fans.

        Now of course WinXP has lost its ways. it only runs on 32-
      • Firstly, your organization is larger and therefore harder to manage. Secondly, your customers tend to hold you more accountable to servicing them, the underdog gets more leeway, because he's the underdog.

        Makes me wonder, why not relaunch another small, fast, and agile underdog (or even a swarm of them) to fight with the disrupting ones, one that would have the advantage of a big backer (YOU!), and eventually unfurl the big coporation when it's clear you little puppy is the way to go.

        It sure is easier, s
  • Still... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StevenHenderson (806391) <stevehenderson AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:20AM (#10468623)

    As long as Dell is almost exclusively Intel, then they ought to be just fine. It is Intel's exclusivity agreements that will sustain them in times like these, I'd wager. (Yes, I know Intel's problems aren't just in the desktop market, but I like to over-generalize).

    • Dell has started making some of the same mistakes that Gateway made in the 90s. Namely, low-bidding. While this is not as huge a mistake now as it was back in the 90s, the quality of Dell computers is falling because of it.
      • Oh, I agree that the quality of Dell computers has been falling for quite some time. However, the ignorance of the consumer (ie suckers for marketing) is remaining steady, so it works out well for them.
        • True - I haven't bought a dell nor recommended them since around 2000. They were relatively good machines back then. For personal machines, I've built my own ever since, getting a much better hardware platform for about half the price, or even less.
          • The corporate Dell lines aren't so bad. Sure they are unupgradable but they are easy to maintain (no screw to open them, everything pull apart very simply, neat plastic rails for disks, very accessible motherboards). They are designed to run office though, don't try to play games on them (it will work but not very well), and they simply don't overclock. The BIOS will not give you any option in that regard.

            One other thing they have going for them is that they are extremely quiet. I have what I consider a ve
  • Xscale (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mirko (198274) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:26AM (#10468652) Journal
    The i86 architecture is dying and Intel could not release decent 64 bit proc at time, so, they'll have to rely on the Xscale processors which are, after all, ARM compatible.
    As the ARM has had the hugest sales in the world during the last years (not on the desktopm, but everywhere else), this'd just imply that Intel will keep its domination but outside the PC market.
    • The i86 architecture is dying and Intel could not release decent 64 bit proc at time

      But in reality, only the smallest fraction of the market is looking for 64-bit processors. Consider that Dell still sells 256MB PCs, PCs with 1GB in them are still the vast minority, and PCs with more than 1GB are rare indeed. (I know, I know, certain people in certain fields will chime in and talk about how 2GB is a requirement, but they're still in the minority.)
      • 2 words : Doom 3
        more words : Doom , then quake made the public update.
        I have no doubt Doom 3 will also influence hardware obsolescence.
        • 2 words : Doom 3
          more words : Doom , then quake made the public update.
          I have no doubt Doom 3 will also influence hardware obsolescence.


          Doom 3 runs perfectly on a 3GHz PC with 512MB and a good video card. *Perfectly*. This is exactly the setup I've been using, and the game is smooth as silk. Please note that the "ultra" quality setting doesn't count, because it trades an impercptible increase in video quality for a *massive* increase in bandwidth (it doesn't use lossy compression on certain types of mu
      • Dell's bottom end PC's aside, no decent PC should come with less than 512MB RAM. That's just so that you can truly multi-task (why shut down your email and browser when loading Doom 3, for instance?)

        Also, 1GB is chump change even in the land of 32 bit computing. 4GB is the max, whether MS can support it or not. 64 bit processing is important for things other than maximum memory access. Photo/sound processing comes to mind, not to mention video editing. That's just for starters.

        I'll end this with saying

        • Also, 1GB is chump change even in the land of 32 bit computing. 4GB is the max, whether MS can support it or not. 64 bit processing is important for things other than maximum memory access. Photo/sound processing comes to mind, not to mention video editing. That's just for starters.

          You realize, of course, that the x86 line of processors has *always* supported 64-bit floating point operations (in reality, all operations are 80-bits internally). This goes all the way back to the original 8087 coporocessors
          • Memory moves are more efficient in 64-bit mode. Memory bandwidth in the Opteron/Athlon64 is much better than with Intel. This is even without the new register banks that come with these processors.
            • Memory moves are more efficient in 64-bit mode. Memory bandwidth in the Opteron/Athlon64 is much better than with Intel. This is even without the new register banks that come with these processors.

              All Pentium processors have had 64-bit buses from the get-go. No joke. Read the specs.
              • Look at the numbers [amdboard.com], and read the benchmarks [tech-report.com].

                You'll find that with the same memory (DDR200) a single opteron has higher memory bandwidth than the PIV and that moreover this bandwidth scales linearly in MP settings with the number of processors, whereas the Xeon's remains constant.

                AMD calls this hypertransport.
    • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:27AM (#10469021)
      Actually, the x86 CPU architecture is still alive thanks to a company called AMD. :-)

      AMD's groundbreaking Athlon CPU core is far superior to what Intel has, and the Athlon XP showed that you don't need ridiculous clock speeds to get superior overall CPU performance, thanks to the the combination of the very efficient Athlon CPU core and generous on-die L1/L2 CPU memory caches. AMD's decision to put the memory controller onto the CPU die with the Opteron/Athlon 64 CPU's also demonstrates how to get superior CPU performance without running high CPU clock speeds like Intel needs to do with the Pentium 4 CPU's.
      • And Intel still has a R&D budget the size of AMD's annual turnover... OK, that's complete bullshit, but you get the point that Intel still has a lot of money left in its pocket, and no lack of talented people to pay with that money. Take the Pentium M. I'll pick a PM over an Opteron any time I don't want/need SMP.
        • Actually, the main reason why the Pentium M CPU was considered a success was the fact Intel stuffed a massive amount of cache memory onto the CPU die (I believe the Pentium M CPU die has 1024 KB or higher of CPU memory cache). Small wonder why future Pentium CPU's for desktop computers will be derived from the Pentium M design.
          • Actually, the main reason why the Pentium-M is considered a success is because it offers very respectible performance at very low power requirements. It was designed for laptops and blades.

            The Pentium-M has a number of very interesting technologies. For example, in lower power states, it can actually turn off parts of its caches to save power (effectively meaning it has smaller caches at lower power).

            The only thing the Pentium-M isn't strong (strong being measured by computational power per clock speed)
  • by lukestuts (731515) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:27AM (#10468657) Journal
    I hear the pipeline on the P5 is going to be so long that Halliburton want to license it for reconstruction work in Iraq.
  • Lack of vision (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:46AM (#10468736)
    Intel has made some pretty big mistakes over the recent years, in some cases going against common sense:

    RDRAM, Itanium, 64-bit extensions for x86, frequency as sole measure of performance, ...

    It should be no surprise that now Intel's future is clouded. They have no one to blame but themselves.
    • Re:Lack of vision (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:18AM (#10468954)
      The biggest fiasco for Intel was the Itanium project, which showed while it was a technically-excellent CPU it also exposed the big problem of lack of software to support the CPU.

      Meanwhile, AMD brought new life to the X86 architecture with a modern developed from scratch CPU design using the Athlon CPU core. Note that AMD's CPU's have truly impressive performance per CPU clock cycle, and AMD's decision to move the memory controller onto the CPU die with the Opteron/Athlon 64 CPU's allows AMD to match the performance of the latest Intel Pentium 4 CPU's without Intel's need to run very high CPU clock speeds.
      • Re:Lack of vision (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joib (70841)

        The biggest fiasco for Intel was the Itanium project, which showed while it was a technically-excellent CPU it also exposed the big problem of lack of software to support the CPU.


        I wouldn't say excellent. Itanium is a somewhat competetive cpu in the high end market, but it's far from the original goals of running in circles around the competition. Not to mention that currently Sun and IBM are selling dual-core cpu:s, which Intel isn't.

        As I see it, Itanium was a very interesting experiment in cpu archit
        • Ever since the original Pentium, Intels own x86 cpu's have essentially been RISC processors inside, just like the Athlon.

          That is true, but Intel's X86 core is still heavily derived from the CPU core pioneered on the Pentium Pro CPU of the middle 1990's. Indeed, the Pentium II/III CPU's were essentially improvements from the PPro CPU core.

          Meanwhile, AMD's Athlon CPU core was pretty much developed from the ground up (thanks to their acquisition of NexGen), and because it is close to a clean sheet design ev
        • Itanium is a somewhat competetive cpu in the high end market, but it's far from the original goals of running in circles around the competition. Not to mention that currently Sun and IBM are selling dual-core cpu:s, which Intel isn't.

          I don't think Intel's goal was to kill the competition in performance alone. I thought their goal was to be "somewhat competetive" in performance and kill them in price/performance. Using their supposedly superior manufacturing capabilities, Intel was to churn out high volu


          • I don't think Intel's goal was to kill the competition in performance alone. I thought their goal was to be "somewhat competetive" in performance and kill them in price/performance.


            Yes, price/performance was supposed to be the big seller of the Itanium. When Intel started bragging about the Merced in the mid 90:ies the whole project was supposedly based on:

            1) The radical VLIW architecture would allow it to run circles around any competition. So at least in Intel marketing, Itanium was supposed to kill
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Despite Intels problems, they made a record revenue and profit report this year. They still know how to make money and some reports says that their yields are far better than others and this may be a sign of this.
    • "Despite Intels problems, they made a record revenue and profit report this year. They still know how to make money and some reports says that their yields are far better than others and this may be a sign of this."


      That's not how financial markets value companies, otherwise those who made the most money should have the highest Price/earning ratios and vice versa.

      In reality, the stock market views company in a dynamic mode; is the company becoming moree productive, or less? does it depend on intellectu
  • AMD dualcore Opteron (Score:4, Informative)

    by geeveees (690232) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:52AM (#10468770) Homepage Journal

    In other news, there are some benchmarks on AMD's dualcore Opteron: http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/ubb.x?a=dl&s=5 0009562&f=174096756&x_id=1097194717&x_subject=Opte ron+dual-core+details+emerge&x_link=http://arstech nica.com&x_ddp=Y/ [arstechnica.com]

    It appears AMD designed the Opteron from ground up to be dualcore.

    • I believe they designed it to be multi-core. I believe in the initial papers they were talking about dual core being released in 2004/2005 (don't recall exact dates) and that quad and 8-way cores were on the horizon. How much was vapor, who knows.
  • Intel Compilers (Score:2, Informative)

    I am predicting that Intel compilers department will be trashed soon. According to latest Coyote's benchmarks, GCC is caching up with performance. Moreover, you cannot improve performance of C++ compiler beyond certain limit, and it seems both intel and gcc (also MS) are close to that point. So, nobody will buy ICC to gain 5% on one app and loose 3% on another. Times when Intel had 30-40% over gcc will never come back.
    • Re:Intel Compilers (Score:3, Informative)

      by Krondor (306666)
      I am predicting that Intel compilers department will be trashed soon. According to latest Coyote's benchmarks, GCC is caching up with performance. Moreover, you cannot improve performance of C++ compiler beyond certain limit, and it seems both intel and gcc (also MS) are close to that point. So, nobody will buy ICC to gain 5% on one app and loose 3% on another. Times when Intel had 30-40% over gcc will never come back.

      This will only hold true if and when Intel and HP scrap all Itanium plans. Itanium proc
  • by News for nerds (448130) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:21AM (#10468975) Homepage
    in high-performance processor market is, IBM. Currently its PowerPC chips power Macintosh PC and Nintendo console. In Xbox 2 console, IBM succeeded Intel's deal with Microsoft for Xbox [theinquirer.net]. IBM's Power architecture is going to be embedded in massive volume for both Nintendo and Microsoft consoles. Then, another architecture developed with Sony and Toshiba, STI's Cell [ibm.com] will power PS3 console and other servers/workstations. IBM fabs will help production of AMD processors in forthcoming generations, too.
  • by cheros (223479) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:24AM (#10469003)
    Their new Power5 chip is a seriously good piece of engineering which will make a rather savage dent in the Intel market when people realise how good it actually is.

    Has anyone realised that it has an MTBF of well over half a century? More computing with less power: if you're running lots of blade servers this chip also solves your other big problem: heat.

    The moment IBM comes out with pricing that approache Intel (and, frankly, I would be surprised if that isn't coming) anyone competent enough to work out the real TCO (get the REAL facts ;-) will not even have to think twice.

    IMHO, in comparison Sun or AMD don't even feature as a threat..
    • What a dumb, narrow-minded comment!

      Intel's and AMD's processors are not valuable just from the performance perspective. What makes them valuable is the huge infrastructure around the x86 architecture: chipsets, mobo makers, support circuits (like CPU power supplies), SOFTWARE, all together.

      To dethrone the x86 platform with a Power5 one, IBM would have to win over everybody, not just the nerd drooling over CPU specs.

      You truly don't seem to understand the semiconductor industry and what makes it to be like
      • Nah - I just know large systems and what it takes to consolidate servers. Your CIO and CEO don't give a rat's ass about what weird bit of wire sticks out of the back, they want return of investment - and fast.

        Intel and Sun don't even come close to the IBM kit - and I don't care about chipsets either. I care about what I can do with it.

        As for infrastructure - what chip do you reckon powers a Mac? Hint: it starts with a P.

        I have found that particular dangers hide in accusing anyone of being dumb witho
        • As for infrastructure - what chip do you reckon powers a Mac? Hint: it starts with a P.

          Who in the real world builds the Apple hardware? The smallest division of Quanta/TW (out of 5-6 groups). Compare that with the large number of OEM/ODMs building for x86.

          In terms of computer-related equipment, I think that Apple-specific production is well below 1% of total. So much has been invested in the x86 infrastructure that it'll be damn hard to push it aside and start with something different. There is only th

  • Rivals Samsung (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by k4_pacific (736911)
    I work with a guy named Rivals Samsung. His father is Korean and his mother is from India.
  • I remember reading a long time ago in the "Inside Intel" book that if it weren't for an investment from Intel in the early days, AMD would never get off the ground. I wonder if Intel is still invested in AMD?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Remember when Intel followed AMD's 5 - 10 year chip naming using a number to identify the chip rather than using the raw MHZ speed? Yes, that was this year. Yes, that was Intel realizing that it ain't about how big it is, it's how you use it.

    And AMD has been my choice, as well as my companies choice, since 95. For almost 10 years AMD has been the cheaper, faster alternative, duplicating everything the Pentium has done and recently defeating it in most speed tests, forcing Intel to panic by releasing "Su


  • If it's an even year, eg 2004 / 2006 / 2008, the semiconductor industry is waxing, if it's an odd year it must be waning.

    Clearly since next year is an odd year, 2005, we can expect a semiconductor slump.

    God these stock market types really are clever.
  • In recent years, Intel has come out with the PIII with the built-in ID number, the Itanium which ran existing 32-bit software very slowly, and the P4 which has probably boosted electricity consumption worldwide to meet its voracious appetite while increasing room temperatures and air conditioning demand. Intel has allied itself with most of the major computer makers through all sorts of sleazy schemes to the point that most of the computers for sale are 'Intel Inside' machines. The largest maker, Dell, do
  • Hmm ... there *is* one way for Intel to come back.

    AMD has really "done the business" with their chips. If I were Intel, I'd be seriously thinking about "leapfrogging", going to 128-bits .... maybe even more ..... :-)

    • Although a 128 bit data path can be useful for getting data to the CPU faster, there's negligible use for 128 bit addresses. A full 128 bit implementation is unlikely to fulfill any market need in this decade or the first half of the next.

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