Sun versus Intel: war declared

Sand thrown in McNealy's face

The undercurrent of dislike between Intel and Sun, which boiled over into an unseemly row at the last Intel Developer Forum, now seems to have turned into a full-scale battle.

There's lots of evidence for this, extending even right up to the top of the Intel Corporation. At a press conference shortly after his keynote speech yesterday, CEO Craig Barrett described Sun as its chief competitor, and ruled out the possibility of cooperation with McNealy's mob.

AMD and Via, which both, on the face of it, seem to deserve Intel's scorn, do not come under this category, Barrett suggested.

The day before, Ron Curry, who heads up Intel's IA-64 division at the corporation, also had some choice words for Sun, as he outlined projected benchmarks for the 64-bit platform.

And Mike Fister, who heads up Intel's enterprise division with the Itanium under his wing, also showed graphs which claim to demonstrate that its performance vastly outguns the UltraSparc II.

At the last IDF, Intel fell out with Sun over the latter's alleged half-heartedness in porting the Solaris operating system to the Itanium platform.

The issue in question clearly relates to the future of the 64-bit platform, and this must have been compounded by a Sun suit who seemed to publicly endorse AMD's 64-bit efforts last week when it announced more details of its Hammer architecture.

A Wall Street analyst, who declined to be named, said that he was aware of future Sun chip technology which would make it tough to beat in the performance stakes.

Sun clearly irritates the hell out of Intel, and benchmarks are not the real issue here. Its hardware is clearly successful in the very area that Intel wants to dominate in the future, as witnessed by its financial results.

Intel's other Itanium partners, including HP, Compaq and IBM, would also appreciate it if the chip giant managed to bloody McNealy's neb. ®