Intel, AMD Step Up Quad-Core Chip Stakes

server chip

And as if that's not excitement enough for followers of the chip market, Intel is also expected to give the world a first look at its 45nm chip design "Penryn" very close on the heels of AMD's quad-core launch, perhaps as soon as at the Intel Developers Forum on Sept. 18. The chip giant sent out invites Thursday for what it describes as "a BIG celebration for our tiny chips."

Tigerton enters the server space as Intel's top of the line Xeon offering. But some analysts speculate that next year's planned overhaul of its entire server line means Intel's Tigerton product is more of a fill-in than a major new addition.

Tier 1 OEMs and system builders tell ChannelWeb that there's quite a bit of excitement in the market about the availability of an AMD quad-core product to compete with Intel's.

"We are completely ready to go with quad-core, we're just waiting for AMD to launch it. Our customers are already requesting samples," said Maria McLaughlin, director of marketing at AMD platinum partner Appro International in Milpitas, Calif.

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Appro, also an Intel premier provider, builds servers and provides custom solutions and blade systems.

For high-performance system builders like Velocity Micro, the Barcelona launch is just a taste of things to come later in the year, when AMD will release "Phenom," its quad-core processor for desktops, said Randall Copeland, president and CEO of the Richmond, Virg.-based company.

"We have retail partners pushing us for quad-cores from Intel, and they're anxiously awaiting Phenom processors as well. We may be the first with Phenom on retail shelves. From a channel perspective, I expect that in the coming months we will only be selling quad-core processors at Velocity Micro," he said.

Copeland expects that AMD's quad-core family of processors will put them right back in the running with Intel, which has had the quad-core market to itself for several quarters due to reported delays in AMD's Barcelona rollout.

"We've been as high as 80 percent AMD, and then when Core 2 Duo came along, it went to 90:10 Intel, almost overnight. But when Phenom arrives, I expect we'll move to about 75:25 Intel. Once we've got benchmarks, that could go higher," Copeland said.

AMD has made a great show of advertising its new multi-core CPU as a "native quad-core," as opposed to Intel's, which AMD characterizes as two Core 2 Duo chips "slapped together." According to AMD, the architecture of Barcelona helps it beat out Intel's product on energy efficiency, performance and scalability. With samples just in the process of being tested and benchmarked by AMD's channel partners, time will tell.

An Intel spokesperson said AMD's insistence on calling its product a "native quad-core" was just "an implementation detail."

"If we went on performance and energy efficiency, we're the leader. Our current products will outperform anything we've seen the competition will have," said the spokesperson.

"Frankly, we don't even need 45nm to beat them, and the Penryn products are just around the corner."