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.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.