Home > AMD, cross-licensing, Intel, Nehalem, processors, Semiconductors, Xeon 5500 > AMD and Intel at each other, again! Post launch of Intel’s Xeon 5500 processor series

AMD and Intel at each other, again! Post launch of Intel’s Xeon 5500 processor series

April 1, 2009

Intel has recently introduced 17 enterprise-class processors, led by the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series. The Xeon processor 5500 series, previously codenamed “Nehalem-EP,” offers several breakthrough technologies that radically improve system speed and versatility. Technologies such as Intel Turbo Boost Technology, Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, integrated power gates, and Next-Generation Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) improved through extended page tables, allow the system to adapt to a broad range of workloads.

Now, even before I could analyze all of this, it was interesting to find first, AMD, and then Intel, exchanging pleasant notes on the chip’s features itself! And, I am being quite mild in my statement here! 🙂 The picture here is from the Intel Xeon 5500 launch in India.

First, AMD! According to Vamsi Krishna, Sr. Technical Manager, AMD India, “Intel launched its new processor architecture (Nehalem) yesterday, which is quite different from any of its predecessors. However, what’s amazing is that many of the ‘groundbreaking, innovative technologies’ are quite similar to technologies AMD pioneered years ago, 2003 to be precise.

“Memory controller integration into the silicon die is one of the many features included in the new Intel architecture and this is believed to boost the whole system performance significantly. However, this is a standard feature on all of AMD’s server products since 2003. Nehalem is also supported by a high speed internal bus known as Quick Path Interconnect. It will replace current FSB (Front Side Bus) in most of the current design. Again, the concept is quite similar to existing HyperTransport technology available in AMD products and is known as Direct Connect Architecture (DCA).

“Products like Nehalem and technologies like Quick Path Interconnect are simply Intel’s admission that AMD was right all along about an integrated memory controller being the key to superior processor architecture.”

Naturally, I had Intel’s response too on these remarks. As per an Intel spokesperson: “The platform architecture of the Xeon Processor 5500 series has some similarities with AMD’s platform architecture in the use of an integrated memory controller and high speed serial interconnect, although the QuickPath Interconnect offers greater performance and additional capabilities compared to HyperTransport. The individual design tradeoffs are not as important to customers as overall performance and efficiency. Previous generations of Intel Xeon processors were superior to competitive alternatives due to superior microarchitecture, process technology and cache implementation. The new platform advances help the Xeon Processor 5500 series widen this competitive lead.”

Great! Here’s a classic case of two folks sledging over nothing!

First, the Intel chip is one of its kind, as of now, and I don’t think any other chip maker has a similar product, as of April 1. If they have, please come forth!

Two, AMD, if it had indeed pioneered such technologies, as those used in the Xeon 5500, in 2003, my simple question to them is: why aren’t you the no. 1 player in the semiconductor space today?

Three, will this new chip make Intel a runaway winner? Too early to say! We are still in a downturn, although, some positive news have been forthcoming. Will the chip be able to make its mark? That remains to be seen. IT spends need to go up significantly for that to happen, isn’t it?

Gartner recently put out a report on global IT spends. It says: “The unprecedented decline of the global economy is impacting the IT industry with worldwide IT spending forecast to total $3.2 trillion in 2009, a 3.8 percent decline from 2008 revenue of nearly $3.4 trillion. IT organisations worldwide are being asked to trim budgets, and consumers are cutting back on discretionary spending,” said Richard Gordon, research vice president, and head of global forecasting at Gartner. “The speed and severity of the response by businesses and consumers alike to these economic circumstances will result in an IT market slowdown in 2009 that will be worse than the 2.1 percent decline in IT spending in 2001 when the Internet investment bubble burst.”

It is not about the technologies you are using, or the process nodes. It is about market share and being there first. Who’s able to do so, timely, wins! Any other discussion won’t have any bearing!

Finally, to my friends at Intel and AMD: folks, do not take that cross-license deal issue to such levels. The industry does not need these things. It is a time to ally and move forward, focus on your core businesses and contribute to the overall health and growth of the global semiconductor industry.

Frankly, it takes off the joys of analysis, when people try to influence you to form a judgement they prefer! Well, I have always formed my own judgement, and right now, I feel that both friends of mine are in the wrong. Request, please shake hands!!

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