Earlier this year in January, under the auspices of an initiative to "better anticipate and address market needs, speed decision making, and ensure world-class operational excellence," Intel reorganized itself into five divisions. Prior to that reorganization, Abhi Talwalkar was an Intel corporate vice president and general manager whose jurisdiction primarily covered the server beat. Now, Talwalkar along with former CTO Pat Gelsinger are sharing the helm of the company's newly formed Digital Enteprise Group -- a division with responsibility for the entire range of Intel's horizontal and vertical solutions that address the needs of modern day enterprises.
Last week, while on visit to Intel's campus in Santa Clara, CA, I had an opportunity to sit down with Talwalker to get an update on everything from its go-forward strategy on Itanium (which hasn't lived up to its original expectations) to the four-way processor "scale-up" limitation on the standard parts it sells to server vendors (AMD vp Ben Williams recently told me about his company's eight-way part) to how Intel managed to get Dell CEO Kevin Rollins to announce that his company was going to stay an Intel pure-breed. We met just before the news surfaced that IBM was ditching the 64-bit Itanium in favor of its own 64-bit Power chips (coincidentally, ahem, timed with Intel's annual lovefest). Here are a few highlights of the interview which is available as both an MP3 download and as podcast that you can have downloaded to your system and/or MP3 player automatically (see ZDNet's podcasts: How to tune in).
Talwalkar on Itanium's slower than expected rampup: Those goals were set 5-7 years ago. It takes a lot of energy, effort, and time to build an ecosystem. Now at 2500 applications that have been ported, tuned, and optimized for Itanium, and with penetration into mission critical situations at 40-45 of the Fortune 100, Intel is happy with Itanium's progress so far.
Competitively speaking, what Itanium is going after: IBM's PowerPC. [Editor's note: this sentiment was echoed in a report by News.com's Stephen Shankland earlier this week].
Regarding Xeon's skyrocketing sales: There's no end in sight.
How the licensing shemes of software developers should react to multi-core chip technologies: Follow Microsoft's lead and license by the socket, not the core.
The interview lasted for about thirty minutes so we obviously covered more ground than this. Among the other topics were a deeper discussion of Intel's dual architecture server strategy (Xeon and Itanium), whose enterprise applications are seeing the price/performance benefits of Itanium, how Intel views HP's diversification into AMD hardware, and Intel's involvement in the burgeoning category of grids. Give the MP3 a listen a let us and Intel know what you think using our comments section below.