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Sees Energy In The Channel Behind Fusion
Compared to other integrated graphics solutions such as AMD’s Fusion and Nvidia’s ARM-based Tegra 2, both of which launched at CES along with Sandy Bridge and were featured inside several consumer devices, Intel’s channel chief says the product itself will make the difference regardless of the surrounding strategy. Dallman said that the graphics capability on Sandy Bridge is strong for an integrated CPU-GPU platform and that with its video and media capabilities, Sandy Bridge will offer a much-needed refresh for a lot of graphics applications in the near future.
“Intel’s got a lot of work cut out for them,” Stromquist said. “They’ve been taking steps by forming a netbook and tablet division to get some design wins. I think they’ll be a player in these devices one way or another.”
AMD’s Kenyon said his company is confident its Fusion platform will strike a chord with channel partners because, he said, it provides system builders a greater variety of technical designs and business opportunities than Sandy Bridge.
“We’ve been working hard on the channel programs, especially our Partner Portal, which launched last year,” Kenyon said. “We’ve started rolling out new programs and marketing campaigns to promote Fusion as well. We see it as positive momentum.” Some aren’t jumping in just yet with either of Intel’s or AMD’s new platforms.
Brad Penner, manager of eBytes Computers in Manitoba, Canada, said his system builder business uses both Intel and AMD, but his company hasn’t started carrying either Sandy Bridge or Fusion chips yet. As far as AMD goes, Penner said the chip maker represents a shrinking percentage of his business. And while Penner said he’s aware of the new Fusion APUs, he said he hasn’t heard one word from AMD on the technology.
“We haven’t explored Fusion at this point, and we haven’t heard much about it from AMD,” he said. “Quite frankly, it seems like they haven’t been aggressively marketing Fusion in the channel. AMD has a lot of ground to make up on Intel. They need to find a better way to market the company and the value proposition.”
Jon Layish, president of Red Barn Computer, a system builder based in Binghamton, N.Y., said Red Barn has not started carrying Fusion processors yet either. “I’ve seen very little from AMD on the Fusion technology,” Layish said. “They’ve been a little quiet in the channel recently, which is strange since they just launched Fusion.”
Layish added that Red Barn used to do quite a bit of AMD business years ago, especially after the chip maker introduced its 64-bit processors in 2003. But the system builder’s AMD business began to decline after the chip maker’s first entry into quad-core chips in 2007 with the launch of the Opteron 2300 series processors, code-named Barcelona, was derailed because of a serious glitch in the chips’ architecture. “We haven’t done much with AMD in recent years,” Layish said. “We haven’t done as much business with them ever since the quad-core Opteron bug. That really hurt them.”
Now that Intel is experiencing similar difficulties with its Cougar Point chipset, Layish said he’s had to deal with uncertainty and added labor as a result of the vendor’s mistake.
“It’s been a real pain,” he said. “The problem is that we’ve shipped systems to customers that now need their boards replaced. And while Intel is covering the cost of the new hardware, the problem is we have to take out tech support guys and send them all over to fix these systems, which costs us work hours.”
Despite the ripple effect of Intel’s Sandy Bridge recall, Layish said Intel—which promptly identified the problem and offered a tentative timetable for issuing corrected chipsets -- will resolve it.
“It’s an unfortunate episode, but Intel has been responsible and I’m sure they’ll take care of it. I still think there will be demand for Sandy Bridge after it’s over,” he said.