Every now and then a colleague, customer or acquaintance sends me a link to an article or blog that usually either features our products or those from one of our competitors. More often than not I get a lot of repeat sources (The Register, The Inquirer, CNET, etc…). The blog that comes my way most often is one from George Ou at ZDNet. One of his most recent blogs (A comparison of quad-core server CPUs) shows a bunch of our latest quad core CPUs and how they stack up against our previous versions as well as those from AMD. I won’t rehash the article here aside from saying it was positive for Intel and to say AMD’s issues with their quad core processors have been well documented.
Is Intel winning now because our products are superior? Are we winning because our competitor is struggling? Do these benchmarks mentioned in George’s blog tell the whole picture? As you can imagine we constantly ask ourselves these questions and many more internally. Our conclusions are that for processors and server platforms, as long as we provide leadership along several key vectors then our market share and overall market position will improve.
Manufacturing process, processor architecture, system architecture, cache size. These are four critical vectors that we have direct control over when we are making design and enabling decisions. At times in our past and in the present we have had leadership on all four. In those times we have won hands down. There have also been times where a competitor has chosen to focus on one or two vectors and that has led to their products being better for a specific area. The four vectors above are things that Intel focuses on but we always have to keep an eye on what end user value they deliver.
Our customers tell us they care about three main things; Price, Performance and Power. The three P’s. George’s blog shows that for one of the P’s (Performance) Intel has leadership, particularly on integer and floating point. There are similar looking examples for database, virtualization and pretty much any performance benchmark we have looked at recently. Thankfully for Intel, Performance is the “P” with the strongest correlation to success in the server market from a MSS perspective. We are also doing some amazing things with regard to Power. Some have been launched already and some will be coming soon with new products in 2008. The market is segmenting and we now make CPUs, chipsets and networking components that help OEMs build platforms targeted at high performance computing, mainstream enterprise, blades, workstations and emerging markets. Each has unique requirements with respect to the three P’s and one size no longer fits all.
I believe that overall George’s blog highlights the success that we are having today. I also think that there will be a steady stream of innovations that will be delivered in 2008 and beyond that will cause us to rethink how we deliver performance at the most efficient power level for the best possible price point. Virtualization, utility computing and charge back models for datacenter environments are all stepping up to take center stage. We all must innovate or become irrelevant…technological evolution waits for no one.