'You'd have to be nuts' to think AMD can match our tick – Intel

Eyeing Sun's Niagara flow

Intel has confirmed plans to "tick" and "tock" AMD into submission.

Beer in hand and in belly, we listened to Intel's latest AMD-hammering pitch during a session Wednesday with company executives in San Francisco.

Rather than going biblical, Intel has gone metronomical, vowing to overwhelm AMD with a regular "cadence" of product releases that run on a "tick tock" fashion. The tick tock relationship centers on Intel thumping the market with a new chip architecture – the tock - and then following that with less dramatic, more pragmatic manufacturing process, core, voltage and cache shifts – the tick.

Intel has been banging on about this strategy – that's really more of a tock tick than a tick tock – for quite awhile, and we've obliged the chip maker by publicizing its talking points. Consider it a holiday gift.

With its new, tocked "Core" designs crammed into the market, Intel now plans to focus on the pragmatic part of its equation, moving quickly from 65nm manufacturing to 45nm.

"From our perspective, 65nm is kind of old news," said Intel manufacturing chief Tom Franz.

AMD, well behind on the 65nm front, looks to shrink the usual two-year lag between process generations by moving to 45nm within 18 months. Intel executives, however, characterized the 18-month plan as a figment of AMD's imagination until the rival chip maker can prove otherwise.

"They are so dreadfully behind," said Intel SVP Pat Gelsinger, adding that "you'd have to be nuts" to think AMD will come close to beating Intel to any manufacturing milestones.

To Gelsinger's point, Intel has been relentless on the fabrication front. It has more manufacturing muscle than any other chipmaker on the planet and does not seem to slip with its chip production, as it has done with design. Such manufacturing strength translates into better, cheaper product.

Muscular factory skills were all Intel had to brag about after a "pretty ugly" period, stretching from 2004 to the middle of this year. It could produce a lot – too many as it turned out – of ho-hum desktop and server chips. But that did the company little good.

More recently, market share figures show that Intel stopped the server chip hemorrhage – a fact not lost on the often thick analyst community.

"I was very pleased to read that a number of analysts have downgraded AMD," Gelsinger said.

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