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Intel: We'll spend our way out of the downturn - again

Barrett recycles slogans at Cebit opener

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Cebit 09 Intel kicked off the Cebit show today by wheeling out Craig Barrett to declare it will once again invest its way out of recession.

The vendor flashed its Nehalem Xeon processor, confirmed it was speeding up its shift to 32nm and declared embedded processors the next big thing.

Intel chairman Barrett opened the vendor's briefing by stressing the importance of innovation, both in developing markets which are in the process of ramping up their technology and in mature markets which need to innovate to maintain their edge.

For Intel, innovation means spending money on silicon. “Even in poor economic times, technology tends to never slow down,” Barrett said. He said it was important for companies to continue to spend on R&D and upgrade plant so that they are positioned to take advantage of the upturn when it does come.

That could be seen as so much hot air, but Barrett's reiteration of Intel's urge to spend came as its only real rival in the PC sector, AMD, effectively offloaded its own manufacturing operation.

Barrett's declaration aside, the vendor's presentation was comparatively short on big news.

EMEA general manager Christian Morales demoed the first Nehalem Xeon chip, which he said would be available within “the next several weeks”. The chip, which will be built on the vendor's 42nm technology, will include Quickpath Interconnect, hyperthreading and Turboboost technologies.

Further down the roadmap, Lynnfield and Clarksfield, 45nm desktop quad core and mobile Nehalems respectively, would appear in the second half. But they will quickly be joined by Clarksdale and Arrandale, which will be 32nm based dual core/quad thread desktop and mobile chips respectively.

These will be followed in fairly short order by Sandy Bridge, the upcoming new architecture on 32nm, with the vendor shifting to a 22nm process in 2011.

Morales confirmed the rapid shift to 32 nanometer was not completely unrelated to the financial crisis which has helped pull down sales of PCs. Intel says the shift to 32 nanometer is bucking predictions that Moore's law is running out of steam and delivering expected benefits in lower power demands and higher performance, moving up a level, in form factors, which is clearly hoping will go some way to persuading SMEs, and what's left of the financial sector, to keep spending on IT.

And if that fails, there's always the embedded market. Morales said embedded applications would represent the next wave of devices connecting to the internet, which the vendor predicted would hit 15 billion by 2015. Intel trailed four new chips in its Atom Z5xx series, including one intended for devices which can operate at sub zero temperatures.

Morales said the deal signed with TSMC yesterday – under which Intel will share some of its Atom IP with the giant Taiwanese foundry - was “very important” in hitting that target in embedded apps. ®

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