System Builders Preparing For Intel's Sandy Bridge Processor

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Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge processor is grabbing the attention of the custom system builder community ahead of its release early next year. System builders say they like the opportunities offered by the processor's integrated graphics and increased performance, but they're hungry for more details in order to prepare for its entrance into the fast-paced processor market.

Speaking at COMDEXVirtual, Intel CEO Paul Otellini on Wednesday said that Sandy Bridge will power a new generation of video streaming technology based on integrated graphics on the CPU.

Otellini went as far as comparing the anticipated impact of Sandy Bridge to the revolutionary Pentium processor product Intel introduced 17 years ago.

"It (Sandy Bridge) is a 486 to Pentium kind of jump," said Otellini. "What the Pentium did was enable the beginning of the multimedia (computing) era by virtue of capabilities built into it. It was the right product at the right time. We are now about to move to the era of visualization -- we may be in the middle of that movement today -- where everything is about video, whether it is consumer or corporate. It is going to be about not just watching video but sharing video and video conferencing."

Several system builders said they are ready to partner with Intel in offering improved visualization technology in a power-efficient solution. However, some would like to hear more specifics from Intel before committing to graphics technology built onto the CPU die instead of high-end discrete graphics.

And while a breakthrough in technology could lead to long-term opportunities for customers looking to update their hardware, the possibility of system builders' actually losing some business opportunity was raised as Sandy Bridge's integrated solution could limit the value-add that system builders can offer.

One system builder listening to Otellini's presentation said he agreed with the Pentium comparison, saying that Sandy Bridge represents a great step forward in technology.

"I definitely feel the custom system builder will benefit from Sandy Bridge, for the timing is right for a massive PC refresh and this technology is one of the more compelling reasons for an end-user to replace that old Pentium PC," said Tim Ulmen, principal at Midwest IT solutions group, a Wichita, Kan.-based system builder. "With the initiative to go Green and the emphasis on cost, a PC based on Sandy Bridge technology should be an easy sell."

Ulmen mentioned a few advantages, including "higher graphics quality without the need for a discrete graphics card which leads to less power consumption, an overall lowering of the bill of materials to build a quality graphics PC, and an overall size reduction of the PC chassis which will prove beneficial in markets such as digital signage and digital health and with less power requirements end-users will realize a savings in energy costs."


Next: Optimism, With Some Reservations

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