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9/27/2006
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Intel 'Clearly Executing,' Analyst Says

Insight64's Nathan Brookwood, who hasn't been a big fan of Intel's competitiveness in the recent past, says the company is well on its way to righting the ship.

SAN FRANCISCO — Semiconductor market watcher Nathan Brookwood, principal of Insight64, gave Intel Corp. high marks following the first day of the Intel Developer Forum here Tuesday (Sept. 26).

"Intel is clearly executing in a way that it has not in the past few years," Brookwood told EE Times.

Brookwood, who earlier this month told EE Times that Intel had clearly hired too many people over the past two years, said Tuesday that the company had been increasingly uncompetitive with regard to desktop architectures in the recent past.

But following a day when Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) made several announcements, including unveiling a schedule for the rollout of quad-core processors starting later this year, Brookwood suggested that the company was on the way to righting the ship. "They are clearly going to be more competitive going forward," he said.

While Intel is back on the right track competitively, missteps in recent years have permanently altered the dynamic in the company's competitive relationship with rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc., Brookwood suggested. Intel "gave AMD an opening to enter the market" in a way it never could before, Brookwood said.

"AMD is a much stronger competitor than they have ever been," Brookwood said.

Currently, Brookwood said, Intel has the stronger new products, but AMD has the stronger business relationships with key companies like IBM and Dell. The world's leading computer vendor had traditionally been an Intel-only house until cozying up with AMD earlier this year.

In a reversal of what took place when the companies rolled out their dual-core products last year, Intel beat AMD to the punch with the announcement of quad-core products, Brookwood noted. This gives Intel an advantage in terms of visibility, but also offers AMD a leg up because Intel has shown its hand first, he said.

Some have suggested that AMD may also have an advantage because Intel's initial quad-core offerings are actually multi-chip packages containing two dual-core parts. Speculation is that AMD will roll out monolithic quad-core devices next year. Intel reportedly plans to offer monolithic quad-core chips when it begins 45-nanometer production next year.

Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO, downplayed this difference earlier Tuesday. Responding to a question about the architecture of the devices, Otellini acknowledged to journalists and analysts that the company's initial quad-core devices are multi-chip packages.

"But so what?" Otellini said. "I think you guys are misreading the market if you think people care about the construction inside. People care about the performance."

In the "olden days," AMD was always following Intel's lead, Brookwood said. But opening the door for AMD has given the smaller company more equal footing in the long-running rivalry, he said.

"Now we are going to see them leapfrog over each other," Brookwood said. "I think that's a much better situation for the industry as a whole.""

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