Chicago (IL) – While we often and talk about the good old days of the steamy AMD vs. Intel battle, the truth looms large. But those days of traditional rivalry could be changing. At least Intel itself believes that it is not only AMD the company is competing with: Sources have told us Intel is circulating a document to its employees, one which sums up that current mindset: It’s time to move on, Intel has bigger fish to fry.
Intel’s eyes have been all but looking at AMD these days, according to sources. The momentary blip seen on their radar in 2005 and 2006 regarding x86 performance has been wholly addressed. Core 2 alone (and a well-oiled marketing engine) to take back almost every inch of market share AMD had gained in the past few years.
Intel has many competitors, at least 20 that have been mentioned officially within the company strategy. And our sources have told us that the internal memo circulating today sheds light on that very fact explicitly. We’re told Intel’s true focus isn’t on little AMD. They were a blip gone by. And, according to sources, Intel’s focus needs now to be on the real threats to their core operations: Samsung and IBM.
Samsung is by far Intel’s largest competitor. In 2004 and 2005, Samsung was #2 in the world with just under half of Intel’s annual revenue. In 2006 the tables changed. Intel’s revenue decreased by 11.1% (due largely to AMD’s success with AMD64, by the way), while Samsung’s simultaneously increased by 12% due to growth and expansion. This brought the difference in revenue between Samsung and Intel from a large $17.8 billion in 2005 to a mere $11.7 billion in 2006.
IBM’s semiconductor division, on the other hand, has also made inroads. These have not been to the extent’s Samsung has. But, according to our sources, Intel has told their employees that IBM has stated goals to not to be the biggest, but rather to be the best at process technology and manufacturing. The claim of being the biggest, our sources say, belongs to Samsung.
On the same day Intel announced their upcoming 45nm hi-K dielectric solution, IBM announced their own. Both of these solutions enhance chipmaking processes notably at the 45nm node by reducing power consumption and heat generation. These will keep Moore’s Law moving forward in x86 space (and using economical manufacturing processes) for the foreseeable future. IBM has also announced an advanced 3D stacking technology.
Intel’s 2006 annual report listed an additional 17 other competitors by name. These include such diverse technology companies as Freescale (embedded), Hynix (memory), Nvidia (video), Toshiba, Broadcom (communications), AMD, VIA, and Transmeta (x86), just to name a few.
There’s no doubt that AMD is and Intel’s closest competitor in x86 space. But the reality we’re seeing today is this: By all accounts and evidence, the threat AMD posed to Intel two years ago is not apparent anymore, at least at this time. Core 2 was Intel’s turnaround vehicle and it delivered. AMD’s reclamation effort came with Barcelona. All reports raise doubts that it may not be enough – from what we can tell today.
Intel’s document shows that Intel is very confident again and isn’t shy showing it. The market situation today indicates that AMD will need to bring a big surprise to market and Intel apparently believes that there are more important issues out there than AMD today.
Is this confidence justified? Your guess is as good as ours. In about a year, once Barcelona has established itself in the market and we know what Intel’s Penryn is capable of, we all will know if Intel will be able to hold its lead or if the cycle of changing leadership positions between Intel and AMD will be going into another round.