Intel might have hoped its spring Developer Forum, which arrives next week, would be all about the chips.
However, a March 3 first quarter profit warning by the company, which comes after it missed its fourth quarter 2004 earnings expectations, could darken the doorstep of the event, which kicks off on March 7 at San Franciscos Moscone Center West.
Intel said March 3 that its first quarter revenue would total between $8.7 billion and $9.1 billion, versus its prior guidance of between $9.1 billion and $9.7 billion. It cited weaker-than-expected demand and a slight market-share loss for the lower revenue.
Likely, the lower demand stems from inventory build-ups at PC makers, which Intel said bought aggressively in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices, which gained market-share across the board during the fourth quarter—AMDs share rose almost four points to 21.4 percent, while Intels slipped about the same to 76.9 percent, Mercury Research numbers show—could be seeing more of the same, analysts said.
The show will go on, however. Intel aims to use each of its twice-yearly Developer Forums in the United States—it also puts on several others all over the world—to set the stage for the next 18 months.
Thus executives are likely to use the forum as an opportunity to paint a picture of better times ahead.
“Id expect theyll continue to point at the second half of the year and say that their new micro architecture is what fixes any of these issues,” said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research in Cave Creek, Ariz.
Thus, next week it will discuss its latest server platform, Bensley, and detail features and performance data on several of its impending dual-core processors, including its Woodcrest server chip. The company will also unveil new plans for platforms that underpin small portable computers, called ultramobile PCs.
Company officials are also slated to outline in detail its forthcoming NGMA (next generation micro architecture for processors) and updates on its notebook and corporate desktop platforms, in addition to its work on virtualization.
Justin Rattner, the companys CTO will open the event with a keynote discussion. Executives such as Pat Gelsinger, general manager of Intels Digital Enterprise Group, and Sean Maloney, general manager of its Mobility Group, will follow with details on Intels work on desktop and servers as well as mobile devices, respectively.
Paul Otellini, Intels CEO, is not scheduled to speak at the event.
On the server side, the Bensley platform for dual-processor servers, along with a new blade server Xeon, dubbed Sossaman, will be the main topics of discussion on the x86-server front. Intels Itanium efforts will also get some air time at the event.
Bensley aims to bump performance by doubling up on busses that carry data to processors and memory and incorporating FB-DIMMs (fully-buffered dual inline memory modules).
It also includes Intels Virtualization Technology and I/O Acceleration Technology, which make it easier to divide a machine to run different software and increase data throughput, respectively. The two add-ons aim to help increase server utilization, allowing a company to using fewer servers and run them harder.
AMD Always Lurking
AMD will also be in San Francisco next week. There, the chip maker will demonstrate a four-processor server based its newest dual-core Opterons, an official at the chip maker told eWEEK.
The new chips, based on a revised design AMD calls rev F, add features such as built-in virtualization and an onboard memory controller that addresses DDR2 (double data rate two dynamic random access memory) granting access to the fastest DDR2 800 modules, whose RAM chips run at 800MHz.
A new socket F—a socket secures a processor to a computers main circuit board—will come with along with the chips and be able to receive quad-core Opterons in 2007, AMD is expected to say.
AMD executives speaking in San Francisco are likely to highlight the Opteron platforms design—it uses direct connections chip-to-chip and chip-to-memory—and trumpet AMDs performance and power advantages over its large competitor.
The Rev F Opterons are expected to arrive at about mid-year.
Intel Bensley platform servers, meanwhile, are expected to arrive in May or June. They will come first with Dempsey, a higher-performing, 65-nanometer chip, and later will work with Woodcrest chips, due in the second half of 2006, and the quad-core Clovertown chip due in 2007.
An Intel spokesperson said the company is on track to ship the Bensley platform in the first quarter. But he declined to comment on the companys plans.
However, a representative from Hewlett-Packard, in an e-mail, said the computer giant is preparing a full line of Intel-based ProLiant and BladeSystem servers that will offer Dempsey and, later, Woodcrest.
“HP is pleased to see Intels new Dempsey and Woodcrest processor technologies coming to market with volume shipments soon—Dempsey in May/June 2006, Woodcrest in 2H06,” the e-mail said.
Itanium Chips Get the
Itanium also will be a big topic at the show.
Intel officials will highlight the upcoming next-generation Itanium 2 chip, which it has dubbed “Montecito.” Intel initially planned to release the chip late last year, but delayed it after quality issues arose.
Nevertheless, Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intels Server Group, said Montecito will be a key step forward for the Itanium platform.
Now due in the middle of this year, the chip will offer such features as dual-processor cores and hardware-based virtualization. It will pack two times the performance of Madison, the current shipping Itanium 2 chip, but keep the same power envelope of 100 watts, Skaugen said.
Intel at IDF will show off updated metrics and highlight what it says are business gains against such rivals as Sun Microsystems SPARC processors and IBMs Power chip platform.
The Itanium Solutions Alliance—which recently pledged to invest $10 billion in the Itanium platform—will be important in driving the messages of improved performance, energy efficiency and confidence in the platform.
Though declining to discuss numbers, Skaugen said Intel has upped its investment in Itanium every year, and will continue to do so.
The alliance, a consortium that includes manufacturers and software makers and is headed by the likes of Intel, HP, Microsoft and Oracle, will have a community area on the IDF show floor.
It will include eight booths dedicated to showing off alliance member products and recruiting companies to join the group.
Also at the show, Platform Solutions will demo its upcoming Itanium 2-based mainframe system, which will be running and Linux and IBMs mainframe operating system, z/OS, simultaneously on separate partitions.
The Sunnyvale, Calif., company is looking to offer users the advantages of mainframe systems, but with the cost benefits of industry-standard technology.
Christian Reilly, director of marketing for PSI, said the company already has sent out some early versions of the systems running on the Madison chip to customers, but will launch the mainframe for general availability when Montecito is released.
Several systems makers have been forced to delay releases of new or upgraded Itanium servers, based on Montecitos later than expected arrival. However, some have rolled out machines with plans to upgrade them once Montecito arrives.
HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., later this month will put its next-generation chip set for Montecito, codenamed “Arches”, into its Superdome systems running on the Madison chip.
An HP spokesman said users will see better performance—by about 30 percent—and manageability with the new chip set.
SGI, of Mountain View, Calif., in November launched the Altix 4000 bladed form factor, which will be upgraded to Montecito.
Numerous others will use the IDF to distribute news.
The OpenIB Alliance, which had previously focused on InfiniBand, will announce that its expanding its scope to open architectures,
Other groups including Certified Wireless USB, WiMedia alliance and SATA-IO will all be on hand to discuss new developments in their respective markets, e-mails received by eWEEK indicated.