Intel: Don't wait for AMD

Chip giant says performance boost of its new quad-core chips, at the same power levels, is compelling enough to lure enterprises away from rival AMD.

There is no reason why businesses should wait for AMD's four-core processors, says a spokesperson from the world's largest chipmaker.

Ravi Chandran, Intel's Asia-Pacific regional marketing manager for the server platforms group, said performance leaps in the company's latest quad-core chips are enough to lure server buyers away from its rivals--specifically, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices).

While Intel has unveiled its four-core "Clovertown" and "Kentsfield" processors for servers and desktops, respectively, AMD is only expected to release server chips with four processing cores on a single die in mid-2007.

Chandran said: "As long as you have a compelling proposition, I don't see why customers will wait." Intel is touting its "Clovertown" server chip to be 50 percent faster than the existing "Woodcrest" Xeon 5100 at the same 80-watt power level.

With the new processor, Chandran said a data center manager who is running out of server rack space can increase his computing capacity by four times, with significant performance over single-core systems and at the same power level. "A lot of customers are testing these quad-core products, and have given great feedback," he said.

AMD did not comment by press time, but the company owes much of its early technology lead over Intel to HyperTransport--a chip technology that integrates memory controllers into processors. This increases performance since it takes less time for data to shuttle between memory chip and processor.

Intel, however, has been hesitant to include memory controllers in its chips, partly because the processor would have to be designed for specific memory technology.

"AMD has been saying they have HyperTransport, and hence enjoy a performance advantage," Chandran said. "When we launched the Core Microarchitecture, we don't have an integrated memory controller but we still beat AMD on benchmarks," he said.

Still, processors are only as good as the applications that can take advantage of their computing prowess. In this regard, Chandran said most enterprise applications are now multithreaded and can benefit from systems with multicore chips.

In the desktop space, however, the number of multithreaded software is lower, though Chandran said there is continuing effort to work with independent software vendors to develop such applications.

"Multicore is the future," he said. "It's not about how fast you can do a job; it's how much you can do."

Apart from quad-core chips, Intel also showed off an 80-core prototype processor on a single wafer at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week. The chipmaker also detailed plans for its Santa Rosa platform that provides notebook PCs with new technologies like 802.11n wireless connectivity and flash memory.

According to Gartner, Intel's current Core 2 Duo processors will give the company a lead in performance and power efficiency over AMD. This will enable Intel to regain microprocessor market share in 2007, the analyst company noted.