AMD Innovates But Still Can't Crack Dell

Chipmaker demos new dual-core versions; Dell says it will stick with Intel
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. continues to make headway in the processor arena, last week demonstrating 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 LinuxWorld. But while its chips are finding homes in enterprise-class systems from Hewlett-Packard and IBM, it has yet to crack Dell.

CEO Rollins says Dell won't use AMD chips.

CEO Rollins says Dell won't use AMD chips.
AMD was the first to market with a 32/64-bit x86 processor, which forced rival Intel to answer with its EM64T 64-bit memory extensions for its Xeon product line. The two companies' dual-core demonstrations and road maps are on relatively the same timetable. But Steve Felice, VP and general manager of the corporate business group for Dell, recently told InformationWeek that his company doesn't intend to broaden its portfolio with AMD offerings, a stance that Dell CEO Kevin Rollins reiterated last week at Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium in Phoenix.

"From our discussions with customers, demand isn't significant enough to force a major shift from us," Felice says. 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 that."

According to Mercury Research, AMD's recent gains still leave it well behind the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer. AMD held a 3% share of the two companies' processor shipments in the second quarter of 2003, compared with Intel's 97%. By the fourth quarter of 2004, AMD had 7%, and Intel's had dropped to 93%.

Intel earlier this month said it had completed initial 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. The company says it has more than 10 multicore projects under way.