SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Paul Otellini, Intels CEO, was visibly annoyed that someone from the media would have the gumption to ask a negative question on July 27, a celebratory day in the chip makers history: the Core 2 Duo microprocessor launch.
After all, about 1,000 people—media types, analysts, Intel employees, Intel customers, hangers-on—were partying it up at midday in a circus-size tent pitched on the companys Santa Clara campus. Finger food, bottled water and rock music reigned supreme.
This new series of microprocessors is supposed to save Intels bacon for at least a few years; Core 2 Duo represents the companys biggest product launch since Pentium in 1993.
Intel executives proclaimed the chips—and therefore Intel itself—the king of the PC processor hill, based on their strengths, which promise a 40 percent increase in performance and a 40 percent reduction in power consumption versus the Pentium D, its predecessor in desktops.
"Im just wondering," the reporter asked Otellini. "Since your main competitor [AMD] has just announced it is acquiring [graphics processor maker] ATI Technologies and said it intends to put graphics functionality right in the processor, will this mean that Intel will also put graphics in its chips?"
Somewhat flustered, Otellini glared and said: "The short answer is yes. Thats the only answer Im giving. Next question."
The next reporter asked if Intel was going to announce any more layoffs. Sighs onstage. Otellini himself had said two weeks ago that his company had too many management layers and had been stifled by indecision and inefficiency, so about 1,000 managers worldwide would have to go.
Otellini was still irked, but calmed himself and said the company was still evaluating its management needs and would make some decisions by mid-August.
Finally, another reporter asked if the rumors were true that certain ATI graphics-processing products had been pulled from the show floor at the launch due to the ATIs impending merger with the Dark Side.
Sean Maloney, Intel senior vice president for sales and marketing, cut in and said: "Listen, this is a big day for us here ... what kind of a question is that? No, the rumors are not true ... there are about five ATI systems out there right now ..." His voice trailed off.
The questions soon stopped coming.
Launching done, lunching loomed.
Drat those reporters. Cant live with em, cant kill em. They might be a bit crass, but theyre simply doing their jobs. Nothing personal, Intel folks.
Random numbers, facts, and quotes from the event
- One of the Intel customers interviewed on video and giving his take on the new chips was named Mark Bohr. Yes, some people yawned.
- 291 million: The number of transistors in the 65-nanometer-wide Core 2 Duo chip.
- Intel said it took one year to ship 100 million Pentium chips. It will take seven weeks to ship 100 million Core 2 Duos.
- 34 million: Number of square feet of fabrication space Intel now is utilizing around the world.
- Quote from Gabe Newell, Game Life magazine: "The Core 2 Duo is the best new chip since the original 386."
- Quote from Bob Regan, Adobe Systems: "The Core 2 Duo now gives us power to do things it was previously unwise to do with other chips."
- Using the Core 2 Duo, the new notebooks will have 20 percent faster performance in the same "power envelope," an Intel spokesperson said.
- What exactly is a "power envelope"?
- There are 10 versions of the Core 2 Duo chips—five for notebooks and five for desktop PCs.
- Intel said it is "refreshing" its entire product line with these processors.
- The five most important assets of the news chips, in order, according to Maloney: 1) better cacheing, 2) improved power management; 3) better overall logic; 4) smarter memory access; 5) wider pipes, deeper buffers.