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Intel kills off IDF Taipei

Gives IDF Beijing a haircut

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If you have booked you travel and hotel accommodations for the upcoming Intel Developer Forum shindigs in Taipei, Taiwan, and Beijing, China, you are going to have to make some changes to your itinerary. These events have been crushed by the economic downturn.

Intel has put up a small notice on the IDF site explaining that IDF Beijing is being cut in half, and IDF Taipei is now gone. "Given the current economic circumstances and business pressures the industry is facing globally, IDF Beijing 2009 is being reformatted to a one-day event," the note said.

"IDF Beijing will feature keynotes, technical sessions and technology showcase all tailored for the Chinese market."

The Beijing event was to be held April 8 and 9 of this year, and the Taipei event was to be held November 16 and 17. The flagship IDF event is still on, of course, and will be held from September 22 through 24 in San Francisco, California.

These three events were put on the Intel corporate calendar for 2009 - and presumably given budget funds - on November 20, so you can see how quickly economic conditions have deteriorated and how much Intel wants to cut costs.

In mid-January, Intel reported sales down 19 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, to $8.2bn, with net income of $234m, down 90 per cent. The company offered vague guidance on the first quarter, saying that its internal estimates were for sales to drop to around $7bn. Soon thereafter, Intel announced it would be closing five chip plants and laying off between 5,000 and 6,000 workers, which is between six and seven per cent of its 84,000-strong global workforce.

Two days later, Craig Barrett, Intel's chairman, announced his planned retirement from the company in May after a 35-year stint - he was chief executive between 1998 and 2005, and is exiting Intel and the tough IT business at what looks like a perfect time. A week later, Intel consolidated its European research and development operations.

Last week, Intel shuttered its plant chip in Shanghai, which will affect another 2,000 workers, who will be offered jobs in other Intel facilities - including one that doesn't come online until 2010. The company also delayed the launch of its quad-core Itanium processor codenamed Tukwila to give it support for a new processor socket and DDR3 main memory.

Intel said that more 10,000 developers, engineers, and various techies as well as 1,250 journalists attended IDF events last year. It will be interesting to see how attendance holds up with travel budgets being slashed as every company tries to trim back costs. Intel better get some cloud computing infrastructure rented so thousands of users can watch the IDF events remotely.

This would be a good test case for those new Nehalem Xeon processors, which are expected to have lots of processing and memory oomph. These should be the star of the Beijing show, but then again, Intel has not confirmed when it is shipping Nehalem servers. Based on last year's schedule, they should have been here about now, but are rumored to have been pushed out to March as the year turned. For all anyone knows, Intel has pushed the Nehalem server launch out even further. Hopefully not all the way to IDF San Francisco.

Other vendors are making similar cuts in their events for industry analysts and techies. Server and operating system maker Sun Microsystems killed off its annual financial analysts meeting in San Francisco, which was to be held this month. Linux and NetWare supplier Novell has axed its annual BrainShare user conference in Salt Lake City, and the O'Reilly Open Source Convention has decided to play away in Silicon Valley rather than make people head north to Portland, Oregon. ®

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