Intel's Best Chip Shot


Wes Herschberger, CEO of MapleTronics, an Intel- exclusive system builder in Goshen, Ind., said he sees VPro leading to an Intel market-share resurgence. “It’s a new industry standard that is really going to help them take back share,” he said.

The moves are reminiscent of Intel’s successful effort to win back market share several years ago when AMD made gains, Herschberger said. “They are taking even more aggressive actions this time,” he said of Intel. “They are intently focused on winning back share.”

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini unveiled the long-anticipated VPro brand last week. He said the platform effectively reinvents the business desktop with its combination of improved manageability, security and energy efficiency features. VPro seed units will be available this quarter ahead of the massive ramp, which will arrive in the third quarter when the Conroe desktop dual-core processor is shipped in volume.

Plans call for Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., to ship its Woodcrest server processor in June, its Conroe desktop processor in July and its Merom mobile processor in August, Otellini said. The chips promise performance gains of 80 percent, 40 percent and 20 percent, respectively, he added.

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Leslie Sobon, director of product and brand management for AMD’s desktop division, said she is confident AMD can continue to post market-share gains against Intel. She said that VPro will lock system builders into a proprietary platform. “VPro offers system builders less choice,” she said. “They don’t get to choose motherboard, chipset or network provider.”

AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif., is slated to unveil new product road maps at its technology day on June 1.

The VPro launch arrived on the same day Intel slashed higher-end desktop PC processor prices by up to 50 percent.

Glen Coffield, president of Cheap Guys Computers, a system builder with six retail stores in the Orlando, Fla., area, said the PC processor price cuts set the stage for a short-term increase in PC sales of 10 percent to 15 percent ahead of the Conroe launch.

“We are going to be able to advertise higher-performing products at new lower pricing,” Coffield said. “I think a lot of these sales are going to come at the expense of AMD, which is staying pat on pricing. Intel has definitely fired a shot here with pricing. It is very, very aggressive. They need to clean up a lot of inventory, and they have taken the pricing to do it. These are not minor price cuts. These are huge.”

Coffield also is hoping that the VPro platform will bump sales by another 10 percent to 15 percent, but he cautioned that could be squelched by economic factors such as rising gas prices. “The bigger factor at play here is energy costs, which are rising and could cause businesses to fold. Businesses that fold don’t need new PCs.”