Barrett Looks Ahead to Itanium Follow-ons

At Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, the Intel CEO said his company his paving the way for wider use of the 64-bit CPU.

ORLANDO, Fla.—Although adoption of Intel Corp.s Itanium technology has been slower than ideal, Intel CEO Craig Barrett said his company is paving the way for wider use of the 64-bit CPU on which Intel bet a huge chunk of its future.

"Youd always like your technology to move faster," he said, adding that the processor itself is only one part of the equation. "Weve been working on the ecosystem, including Microsoft, HP and the Linux community to get the operating system and applications lined up. You have to have the solution stacks."

Barretts comments came during a wide-ranging interview at the annual Gartner Symposium/ITxpo here.

Although Dell Computer Corp. responded coolly to Itanium at first, Barrett said he was encouraged by positive comments about Itanium 2 made by Dell officials two weeks ago. With Dell edging toward the Itanium fold, "only one company has not fully embraced that architecture," he said, describing Sun Microsystems Inc.

But ultimately, its not the chip itself that is important, he said. "We need to make solutions that customers find useful."

According to Barrett, the next three Itanium generations, which will include the processors code-named Madison, Deerfield and Montecito, are lined up and will be rolled out every 12 months.

Intel is looking for more immediate success from a forthcoming mobile microprocessor, code-named Banias, that is due in the first quarter of 2003. The chip is designed to work in an architecture that supports 3G wireless wide-area networks as well as 802.11 hot spots.

Looking further into the future, Barrett said Moores Law, which holds that processing power will double every 18 months, will remain in place in the silicon universe for 15 to 20 years. Beyond that, "everyone acknowledges the CMOS transistor will be replaced, much as the vacuum tube was replaced," he said. However, even with new technologies like carbon nanotubes, he said, "innovations may change the nature of the switch, but the manufacturing techniques will stay the same."

Although previously quoted as saying there will be a technology recovery in 2003, he demurred at endorsing that prediction, instead saying only that the high technology recovery will lag the general recovery and the communications recovery will take place after the recovery in the computing sector.

Barrett also discussed his companys own use of the Internet, and said Intel is both buying materials and selling its components over the Internet. Thanks to those and other measures, the company has reduced its inventory turnaround from 45 days three years ago to three days at present. But thats not enough, Barrett said. "I want to get it to 24 hours."

More Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Coverage:

  • Sun to Ramp Up Support for Linux
  • Fiorina: HP Not Threatened by Dell Printer Sales
  • Gartner: Some Silver Linings in IT Clouds
  • Gartner Predicts: Return to Distributed Systems