Intel Corp. is launching its 64-bit Itanium processors in the midst of a deep industry downturn and, as part of its effort, is seeking to rally support around its vision of 64-bit computing. At the same time, the leading manufacturer of microprocessors is moving forward with new mobile chips and is looking ahead to computing designs beyond todays CMOS devices.
Craig Barrett, CEO of the Santa Clara, Calif., company, discussed these and other issues with eWeek Executive Editor Stan Gibson at Gartner Inc.s ITxpo in Orlando, Fla., last week. The following is an excerpt. For the full interview, go to eweek.com.
eWeek: Intel has placed a huge bet on Itanium. Can Intel succeed if Itanium does not hit a home run? Have you hedged your bet on other technologies?
Barrett: We are succeeding without Itanium revenue today. Were investing heavily in it, and its not contributing positively to the bottom line. Were succeeding today, so I assume we could in the future. But it is a part of our overall road map. We make building blocks for clients, servers and networks. Itanium is the building block for servers.
eWeek: Are you satisfied with Dell [Computer Corp.]s posture on Itanium so far?
Barrett: They were basically slow to come to the party. The comment they made about two weeks ago—which was that their customers are getting pulled to the Itanium 2 family—shows theyre moving in the right direction.
eWeek: Banias is the code name of the mobile chip youll be rolling out early next year. Can you elaborate on how it supports wireless communications?
Barrett: Youll have support of dual-band 802.11a and 802.11b with the Banias architecture. The architecture consists not only of the processor but also the peripheral chips.
The platform of the future will have all the connectivity built in: Bluetooth, wired and wireless, and wide-area network and local-area network.
eWeek: Are you familiar with Kurzweils Law, which says that three-dimensional molecular computing will grow at an even faster rate than Moores Law?
Barrett: Were getting three-dimensional atomic computing today.
Theres been a lot of talk about molecular computing and the impact it could have. Despite what the basic computing element is, you still have to interface and have communication with those compute elements.
Its the same challenge we have in wiring together 500 million transistors on the next-generation Itanium processor. If youre going to have three-dimensional organic biological molecular compute elements, you still have to get information in and out.
So Im more concerned about the global wiring diagram to make it useful. You can shrink the transistor, but you still have to communicate with the transistor.