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9/22/2006
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Quad Core Should Be In Intel Developer Forum Spotlight

Expect quad-core microprocessors to be heard from early and often at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) next week in San Francisco. Intel could even further accelerate the timeline for the industry's first quad-core x86 microprocessors with a formal introduction in front of press and friends. After getting strong reviews for its recently introduced Core architecture-based processors for both PCs and servers, Intel may see an opportunity to seize momentum from rival Advanced Micro Devices.

Expect quad-core microprocessors to be heard from early and often at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) next week in San Francisco. Intel could even further accelerate the timeline for the industry's first quad-core x86 microprocessors with a formal introduction in front of press and friends. After getting strong reviews for its recently introduced Core architecture-based processors for both PCs and servers, Intel may see an opportunity to seize momentum from rival Advanced Micro Devices.Two years of getting kicked around by AMD must have been tough for Intel, the most successful company in semiconductor industry history. After getting out-maneuvered and out-innovated for a long enough period to make AMD the most potent threat in history to Intel's virtual processor monopoly, Intel fired back with its strongest summer in years. Intel was in dire need of a successful and total refresh of its portfolio. Early indications are that Intel may have repositioned itself in the forefront, or at least at parity, in microprocessor performance.

Intel had previously announced it was moving up the release of its first quad-core microprocessors from 2007 to before the end of 2006, but being first to market doesn't ensure success. IDF will hopefully provide evidence that Intel's initial quad-core designs won't reverse its current momentum by force-feeding a power-hungry processor onto the market.

AMD has plans to introduce monolithic quad-core processors by midyear 2007, and executives have pledged they'll be able to maintain the current power dissipation level of AMD's dual-core Opteron, which is 95 watts.

Intel will beat AMD to market with the first quad-core processors, but for its first quad-core server processor, Intel will use a multichip package that combines two of its new dual-core Woodcrest processors. The real advantage for Intel could be secured, however, if it's able to demonstrate it can keep its initial quad-core designs within a reasonable heat envelope of 100 or 110 watts.

The heat generated by the high-performance processors used in servers is rapidly becoming one of the leading concerns of IT executives, and certainly of data center managers. On Monday, InformationWeek will detail how the industry will need to look at new cooling technologies in their data centers to accommodate higher-density installations of high-density microprocessors.

AMD gained a great deal of its recent success by demonstrating an ability to deliver better performance-per-watt products than Intel for an extended period. Even today, AMD has placed efficiency at the forefront of its message, while Intel still seems reluctant to linger too long in such discussions. Full judgment on the performance of Intel's new processors must wait at least six months to a year, but Intel would be better served not to remind customers of their recent thermal problems by getting into the quad-core market too fast with a chip that's too hot.

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