Business desktops are bringing up the rear in the dual-core processor transition.
The deskbound business machines, which are usually architected to offer businesses stability versus providing them with new technology, wont move en masse to chips such as Intels new Pentium D 900 until at least the second half of this year, the chip maker predicts.
Whereas Intels dual-core chips now come in some mainstream consumer desktops and earlier this month began selling in notebooks, following the introduction of its Core processor, they mainly populate corporate workstations.
Only a handful of high-end business desktop models offer Pentium D chips at the moment.
Intel, which expects to exit 2006 shipping mostly dual-core chips in its client PCs business, doesnt expect business desktops to make the switch en masse until after arrival of Averill, its next business desktop platform, due midyear, said Mike Ferron-Jones, director of Intels Digital Office Platforms Division.
The relative lack of change in corporate machines is a “reflection of buyers desire for stability,” Ferron-Jones said.
However, “We want to go out of 2006 with 70 percent of clients as dual-core [systems]. The business mainstream is critical for us to meet that commitment, so were going to be driving the Averill platform and dual-core pretty hard in the second half.”
Averill machines, some of which will be architected to ship for 12 months without major changes as part of Intels Stable Image Platform program, will incorporate Pentium D 900 chips along with a beefed-up chip set, dubbed Broadwater, a new gigabit Ethernet connector code-named Nineveh.
Aside from adding new hardware, they will also include Intels Virtualization Technology and AMT II, an updated version of Intels Active Management Technology. AMT monitors PCs hardware and can help recover machines that have problems.
Thus, “In the second half of the year, expect a rapid ramp of dual-core processors as Intel brings out the Averill family of platforms,” Ferron-Jones said.
Those Averill machines will replace Intels first Professional Business Platform desktops, which came out in May.
The business bundle included Intel Pentium 4 600 series chips, the chip makers 945G chip set, and was available with its AMT.
But until they arrive, expect mainstream business desktops to continue shipping with single-core chips, making Intels Pentium 4 600 sequence the mainstream processor for many corporate desktops, Ferron-Jones said.
Despite the arrival of Averill desktops in mid-2006, some businesses might take even longer to make the shift to dual cores, one PC executive said.
“I think well see greater interest in dual-core platforms” this year, said Glenn Jystad, senior manager of desktop product marketing for Gateway Inc., in Irvine, Calif.
“But I think itll be incremental. [Intel is] still offering their other CPUs at their historic price points. Intels dual-core processors are still the premium product.”
Thus, “The interest is going to have to compete for the price. Thats Intels challenge. Its how to convince the market that dual core is worth the money. There is a strong message there, but people have to vote with checkbook,” he said.
Intels rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which dinged its larger competitor for about a point of market share in the fourth quarter, is also pitching a stable business desktop platform for corporations.
Its AMD Commercial Stable Image Platform will cover its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 and single-core Athlon 64 chips as well as its Turion 64 notebook chip in addition to a variety of hardware from its close partners.
Still, despite whats expected to be a fairly long transition to dual-core chips for businesses, PC makers will soon begin rolling out machines that incorporate Intels Pentium D 900 chips.
The Pentium D 900 family was designed to fit into current platforms and thus is expected to replace Intels older Pentium D 800s fairly quickly, Ferron-Jones said.
Lenovo Group Ltd., for one, will incorporate the Pentium D 900 into its ThinkCentre M52 line, shipping desktops that include the chip in February, a company spokesperson said.
Gateway will also offer the 900-series dual-core Pentiums. The company is expected to add to the chips to its E-Series 4000 and E-Series 6000 desktop families during the second quarter.
Representatives of Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. declined to comment on their respective companies plans.