Competitive Advantage

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-10-28 Print this article Print

Competitive Advantage

Although the forum included many other presentations, the enterprise IT buyer can get a good sense of the competitive landscape by comparing the four discussed here.

Desktop systems enjoy a spectrum of choices, ranging from the almost-outrageous power of the Itanium 2 (combined with the technical risk of a completely new software base) to the "fast enough" pragmatism of Via/ Centaurs compact and cool-running designs. AMD, with its x86 compatibility and 64-bit extensibility, offers an attractive middle ground.

Embedded custom solutions can take advantage of the x86 or 68000 skills base in power-thrifty hardware assembled from standard parts or custom-built to precise requirements.

Hardware choices should be quickly made, however, so that software can receive a much-needed lions share of system designers attention.

"Our typical customer," said Circello, "has 10 firmware designers for every hardware designer."

That ratio should signal enterprise IT that competitive advantage will come more from developing unique intellectual property, enabled by any of several viable hardware choices, rather than from agonizing over which bit of silicon should anchor that innovation.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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