Intel's Message That It's Winning the Core War Feels Disingenuous

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Includes: AMD, INTC
by: Yankee Group

By Carl Howe

Because of our deadlines here, we're missing Intel's Developer's Forum [IDF] this week in San Francisco. But we've been keeping up by reading the accounts in various publications, such as yesterday's article in the New York Times. And in that article, we saw a bit of a marketing struggle, as Paul Otellini proudly announced that Intel would introduce a quad-core processor in November:

“This is about bragging rights,” the Intel chief executive, Paul S. Otellini, said in an interview after his speech opening the three-day Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Developers Forum, an annual event for makers of PC’s and accessories.

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...the company decided to package two dual-core chips in a single package to gain a half-year lead in the new quad-core approach.

At a news conference, Mr. Otellini defended the approach, asserting that it would not result in any performance disadvantage. “The initial ones are multi-chip, but so what?” he said. “You guys are misreading the market if you think people care what’s in the package.”

Intel also announced that it was making quicker progress on an initiative it introduced at its annual developer conference last year to reduce the power required for processing by a factor of 10. “In 2008 we’ll meet our decade goal of a 10X reduction in power,” he said.

Now, we're all about marketing your advantages, but the two chip, quad-core processor feels a bit disingenuous, particularly when Intel starts crowing about being more power efficient. Do the math on the power calculation: if one dual-core chip in a package consumes X watts, then two dual-core chips in a single package consumes -- you guessed it -- 2X watts. You don't get any power efficiencies by putting two chips together in a single package.

It's nice to have bragging rights. But don't blame companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Sun (NASDAQ:SUNW) if they decide that AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) turns out to be the better choice for their quad-core systems. No matter how good the boast, bragging rights don't pay the data center power bills.

INTC-AMD 1-yr comparison chart:

INTC-AMD 1-yr comparison chart

Full disclosure: I have no positions in Intel or AMD.

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