Intel, AMD Chip Businesses Continue to Evolve

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2010-05-12

Intel, AMD Chip Businesses Continue to Evolve

Officials from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices this week once again spoke about the changing dynamics in the computer industry and their companies' efforts to change with them.

During a meeting with investors May 11, Intel CEO Paul Otellini and other executives spoke about how they expect earnings and revenues to show growth in the low double digits over the next few years as Intel continues to evolve.

"Don't think of us as a chip company anymore," Otellini told investors. "We are a computing company."

That means continuing to branch out from Intel's core PC and server chip business into the burgeoning electronics sector, from netbooks, tablets and handheld devices to televisions and cars, as well as into software and services.

On May 12, rival AMD unveiled a complete refresh of its consumer client platform, including notebooks, ultrathin laptops and desktops, focusing on the multimedia demands of consumers and building on the company's Vision strategy.

However, while much of the focus was on desktops and notebooks, AMD officials also discussed how the company's processors will play in other processor-driven devices, including televisions and MP3 players. They also pointed out the possibilities of where AMD technology will be able to go in 2011, when the company will come out with the first of its Fusion chips, which will bring together computing and graphics capabilities on a single chip.

While AMD chips will certainly be found in some netbook products in 2010, for example-Acer already has an AMD-based netbook and will roll out another one with the new AMD chips-it will be with the Fusion products that netbooks will begin to reach their potential in performance, the company said.

"We're not going to go big with millions and millions of [netbook-based] products until we debut Fusion next year," Leslie Sobon, vice president of worldwide product marketing for AMD, said during a Webcast event.

The vision being expressed by both Intel and AMD dovetails with what analysts are seeing. iSuppli analysts May 6 predicted a record year in 2010 for the semiconductor industry, fueled in large part by consumer demand for all sorts of electronics.

However, like their counterparts at Intel, AMD executives see that while their PC and server businesses will continue to grow at a healthy rate, there is real potential outside their more traditional markets.

Much of Intel's expansion will be based on its Atom processor platform, designed for everything from handheld devices like smartphones to "smart" televisions and other such appliances.

At the investors meeting, Intel showed off a netbook powered by a dual-core Atom chip and a tablet running on a new Atom processor. Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said new Atom-based netbooks and tablets will be demonstrated at Computex, to be held June 1 to 5 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Netbooks are a place of differentiation between Intel and AMD. Intel officials said they see a healthy market for the low-cost devices, particularly in emerging markets. Otellini pointed to Mexico, where 53 percent of all PCs sold in the fourth quarter of 2009 were netbooks. Intel expects shipments of netbooks to grow 20 percent in 2010.

Tablets, Otellini said, will be "additive," a nice part of the overall PC market, but a small niche.

Traditional notebooks also should see solid growth, jumping about 22 percent in revenue each year through 2014, according to Intel.

Following AMDs Vision


AMD officials also predict healthy growth in the notebook space, and expect the company's Vision strategy to help fuel sales and revenue increases.

Vision was introduced in 2009 as a way of marketing PCs more along the lines of how people buy them-focused less on technical details and more on functionality.

"We were going to change how PCs were purchased," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Products Group. "We moved away from the technical jargon that, to be honest, no one understood anyway."

Many AMD notebooks are now sold under the Vision strategy, with different Vision tags signifying different capabilities within the systems.

Executives of several OEMs spoke at AMD's event, praising the Vision initiative.

"We've quit talking about specs and speeds and feeds," said Nick DeMarco, director of global marketing at Dell. "We're focused instead on what users want."

Bergman said 90 percent of AMD-based laptops sold now go out with the Vision identification.

Chris Cloran, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Client Division, said the company has added a fourth Vision level-Vision Black-for high-end enthusiasts looking for systems in which the processors, like the Phenom II, can be overclocked.

The basic Vision label is for such systems as netbooks and ultrathin notebooks, Premium Vision is for systems designed for viewing media like videos and photos, and Ultimate Vision is for media viewing and media creating.

AMD also is bringing the Vision strategy to desktops for the first time.

AMD's Bergman said over the next few months he expects a flood of Vision-based systems to come rolling out from such OEMs as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Lenovo and Asustek Computer.

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