Intel feels healthy and dual-core happy

Coming for AMD

server room

A confident collection of Intel executives boasted today about the company's financial health and upcoming dual and multicore processors during an analyst conference.

Exiting CEO Craig Barrett, incoming CEO Paul Otellini, CFO Andy Bryant and a host of other division heads did their best to woo the Wall Street crowd. Intel this year has worked to restore its reputation after a somewhat difficult 2004 that saw numerous product delays, product cancellations and manufacturing mistakes. The Intel brass made a rare admission to feeling AMD's heat more than ever before and then quickly dismissed the notion that the company will be unseated as chip king anytime soon.

"The business is actually healthy right now," Bryant told the analysts. Minutes later, he emphasized this point adding, "Intel's business is solid right now."

This business checkup capped off three hours of presentations from the various Intel executives. New information was rather hard to come by during those 180 minutes, although Otellini did highlight three relatively unknown chips.

The first is a chip code-named Woodcrest, which will be Intel's second-generation dual-core Xeon aimed at the dual-processor server market. It will arrive at around the same time as the multicore Whitefield chip for multiprocessor boxes.

Otellini also highlighted the upcoming dual-core Conroe chip for desktops and the dual-core Merom chip for notebooks. Both of these parts will be the second generation follow-ons to Presler and Yonah, respectively.

Intel is currently behind AMD in the dual-core server processor race since the dual-core Opteron appeared last month. Intel won't be shipping the dual-core Dempsey chip in volume to end users until 2006. Otellini, however, vowed to have "thousands" of Dempsey-based systems sent to OEMs and ISVs in the later part of this year for testing.

Abhi Talwalkar, a high-ranking executive at Intel, admitted some frustration at seeing AMD win server business during 2004.

"Certainly, there has been increased competition in (that) part of the marketplace," he said.

Intel also did its usual sales pitch for Itanium, insisting that things are better than ever with the 64-bit chip.

"All of the big RISC vendors are offering large scale systems," Otellini said, ignoring the two largest RISC vendors - Sun and IBM - that are not shipping large scale Itanium systems.

While life isn't perfect at Intel, it is pretty damn good. Bryant's presentation was full of charts showing Intel's exceptional ability to outpace rivals and other large companies in cash production, revenue consistency and returns to investors. ®

Bootnote

Congratulations to Intel for figuring out how to make a web cast available when a user has a popup blocking browser. It only took two years.

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