System Builders Preparing For Intel's Sandy Bridge Processor

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As much of an opportunity as integrated graphics may represent, Tibbils said Sandy Bridge is not unique in offering an integrated graphics solution that's convenient for both end users and resellers.

"Integrated graphics isn't necessarily a new trend," he said. "Integrated graphics is always getting better and better. It's pushing the discrete graphics higher and even more into a niche space. With integrated graphics, you can only adapt anytime there's a processor cycle, whereas discrete graphics cards can come to market when the technology is ready. "

Joshua Liberman, president of Albuquerque, N.M.-based solution provider Net Sciences, said this integrated solution would be able to achieve what others have promised.

"The promise of integrated graphics has always been largely unfulfilled. However, with the OS and even the browser demanding real 3D muscle, the stakes are higher than ever," Liberman said. "The ability to cut both costs and integration complexity is always appealing. With its true integration of the GPU and CPU, along with integral FSB architecture, Sandy Bridge seems poised to actually deliver on these promises."

"As Intel System Builders, this leap in integrated video performance will mean an end for the need to add lower-end (sub $100) video cards, saving us time, cost and third-party video vendor support hassles. And, as champions of the Intel VPro architecture, the ability to do KVM type support remotely (which is not possible with add-on video cards) is the icing on the cake," Liberman said.

In addition to not being quite as unique or transformative as Otellini's keynote suggested, Swank said Sandy Bridge could have some adverse effects on system builders.

"The more integrated the products become, the less value-add we can manufacture in the U.S. Because everything is on the CPU, the more Original Design Manufacturers will take over," he said. "The channel has survived by reselling tier 1 notebooks. Now with the transition to netbooks, very few in the US are making their system themselves, they're making it overseas."

"It's getting more difficult for system builders to differentiate themselves with the actual product from the tier 1 ODM. From that perspective as a system builder it’s a concern that it will take away that revenue stream," Swank added. "From an overall technology perspective, it’s a very exciting product launch, with opportunities for new revenue streams."


Next: A Double-Edged Sword

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