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2/24/2005
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AMD Breaks Technical Ground But Still Can't Penetrate Dell

Although AMD is demonstrating and planning to ship a dual-core Athlon 64 processor, Dell is holding to its all-Intel strategy.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. keeps pushing the envelope in processor innovation and performance improvement, but it can't break down the wall at Dell Inc., which continues to pass on using non-Intel processors in its product line.

This week AMD demonstrated a dual core version of its Athlon 64 processor for desktops, which it plans to introduce in volume later this year. A week earlier, AMD demonstrated its dual-core Opteron in multiple server and workstation products at Linux World.

AMD was the first to market with a 32/64-bit x86 processor, which forced rival Intel to belatedly answer with its EM64T 64-bit extensions for its Xeon product line. The two companies' dual-core demonstrations and roadmaps are on relatively the same timetable.

But Steve Felice, VP and general manager of the corporate business group for Dell, recently told InformationWeek his company has no intention of broadening its portfolio with AMD offerings, a stance that Dell CEO Kevin Rollins reiterated Wednesday in public comments.

"From our discussions with customers, demand is not significant enough to force a major shift from us," Felice says. "If our customers get to the point where they are consistently telling us that they think (AMD) is a better technology, we certainly have the wherewithal to add that to the mix. We're not blind to what's out there."

Felice says AMD chips remain a relatively small piece of the market, and customers are more interested in maintaining "the stability of delivery and the stability of performance, and we have a great track record with Intel on doing just that. It's very important to us to have a consistent supply chain."

According to Mercury Research, AMD has been closing the market share gap between itself and Intel over the last two years, but remains well behind the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer.

In terms of total shipments of processors from the two companies, including Xeon, Itanium, Athlon MP and Opteron, AMD held a 3% share in the second quarter of 2003, compared to 97% by Intel. By the fourth quarter of 2004, AMD's share had grown to 7%, and Intel's had dropped to 93%.

Intel earlier this month also made a dual-core announcement. The company said it had completed initial production runs of its dual-core products and was on schedule to introduce dual-core Pentiums in the second quarter, and dual-core Xeons in the second half of 2005.

Robert Cooke, VP of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, says the company has more than 10 multicore projects currently underway.

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