Intel advances its cause

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For a US$34 billion company with almost 90 percent market share, it might be inappropriate to call Intel "the comeback kid".

For a US$34 billion company with almost 90 percent market share, it might be inappropriate to call Intel "the comeback kid".

But the chip maker says it has made good on its vow last year to rewrite its product road map to focus on dual-core and multicore processors, and at last week's Intel Developer Forum, Intel showed off at least a half-dozen of the new chips.

In September, the company was forced to rewrite its road map after a series of embarrassing product slips and cancellations, and subpar third-quarter earnings.

The company demonstrated a series of new "concept" PCs aimed at pushing developers and OEMs to leverage Intel architecture for sleeker, lighter, more mobile systems. Intel CEO Craig Barrett, in an address to the 5000 developers at the San Francisco conference, said the new technology would be buttressed, in part, by a new Channel Products Group, created in January.

"I think this is going to be increasingly important as technology makes more and more of an impact on human beings, tailoring that technology to local customs, the local use pattern is critical," Barrett said. The Channel Products Group is charged with leveraging Intel technology into solution provider-friendly products from servers to notebooks.

During the conference, Jim Allchin, Microsoft's senior vice president of platforms, appeared during one keynote address to back another part of Intel's new road map -- its push to enable all its processors for 64-bit computing. Allchin implored the developers at the Intel forum to recast their efforts from 32-bit to 64-bit solutions.

"We are locked on 64-bit," Allchin said. "You should start [constructing] your applications to 64-bit in a native way," he said. Allchin said Microsoft would ship a workstation version of its 64-bit operating system next month.

Christian Paradis, a developer at CO Computer, a custom-system builder in Quebec, said he was positive about Intel's new technology, particularly the maturing of its 64-bit-enabled processors. He also said he thought Intel's work on bringing dual-core processors to market was timely.

"We've pretty much gotten to the point where frequencies are too high and there is too much heat," Paradis said. Intel's dual-core and multicore planning, along with the supporting virtualisation technology for management, security and performance, "are going to allow us to provide more products for our customers."

Hollis Lai, a US-based student and member of Tech Collective, a developer's group in Canada that closely follows Intel, said, "Microsoft's statement of support is very reassuring".

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