Benefits for IT Organizations in the Intel/AMD Battle

May, 2007

Upheavals in the microprocessor manufacturing arena have caused Intel and AMD to redouble their fight to wrest market share from each other. Competition is so hot that it is difficult to keep track of all the developments and announcements from these two suppliers.

This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, New Intel and AMD Chips: Higher Performance, Lower Cost.

In the last year alone, Intel released 40 new desktop, mobile, and server processors. This is just a prelude to new lines that will emerge over the next three years–many with integrated, on-chip memory controllers and graphics processors.

AMD fought back with new designs, but could not meet the demand of PC manufacturers in addition to its usual customers. Consequently, Intel will likely regain some of the server market lost to AMD since 2005. However, AMD is not giving up the battle.  AMD intends to unleash its Barcelona line in mid-2007, followed up with quad-core processors and lower prices.

This battle will result in lower costs and higher performance for buyers. However, it is not easy to understand what all these developments mean and which translate into real gains. The full version of this report attempts to reduce the confusion by forecasting near-term product capabilities and examining the value of the new hardware features.

Intel’s Core Technology Improvements
The Intel Core families are known by code names, which often change or are supplemented. In this discussion, the following names will be used to refer to the various product lines:

  • Merom: mobile computing processors within the Core 2 product line
  • Conroe: desktop system processors within the Core 2 product line
  • Woodcrest: server and workstation processors within the Xeon 5100 product line

Other names that overlap these products include Penryn and Nehalem.

AMD Counters With New Designs
AMD’s strategy is driven by its recent failure to satisfy both PC manufacturers (such as Dell) and its traditional technical product distributor markets. The loss in market share resulted in reduced volume, which was exacerbated by the volume pricing it was forced to offer to the manufacturers. Revenues fell, and AMD is trying to recover with bargain prices until its quad-core line of processors hits the street in 2008.

AMD’s Next Generation Processor Technology, often referred to as K8L, will launch in mid-2007, but volume production will not gear up until the following year. The lineup comprises dual- and quad-core processors for servers, workstations, and desktops. A sibling architecture with lower power requirements for mobile platforms, known as New Mobile Core, is also in the works.

The full version of this report identifies the characteristics of Intel’s and AMD’s new generation of processors. It then highlights the features of the new processors that support improved system management and OS virtualization–key objectives for lowering total cost of ownership in the data center. Finally, it discusses where these new technologies may provide the greatest benefits for IT organizations.

May 2007

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, New Intel and AMD Chips: Higher Performance, Lower Cost. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website at (click for pricing).