Intel: Fast chip speed is no longer enough

Intel Corp., which faced design problems, product delays and forced to play catch-up with rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in 2004, used its Spring Developer Forum last month to showcase new technologies it says will simplify the lives of IT managers by making it easier to manage and secure increasingly complex networks.

While most of the technologies had been discussed before, Intel used the event in San Francisco to provide more detail and give feature release availability. Virtualization, networked systems management, I/O acceleration, and dual-core and multicore designs were highlighted.

Last year, the company made it clear improving the clock speed of its processors was no longer enough. Instead, the focus would be on creating platforms, which include chips, chipsets and other technologies designed to work together to improve system security, manageability and performance. In January, Intel reorganized its internal operations to focus more on the business needs of its customers, rather than on chip architecture and design.

“Intel made their shift in strategy last year, and they made their shift in organization a month or two ago. Now the message they want to promulgate is ‘mea culpa.’ Last year we messed some things up, but we are on track now,’” says Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata.

Intel’s direction shift brings it more in step with the industry as a whole, analysts say.

“There are a lot more discrete issues involved in performance than just sheer clock speed,” says Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research.

“Performance is not just about speed, it’s not just about security, it’s not just about dependability, it’s not just about flexibility. It’s about which platform can enable as many of these different capabilities seamlessly.”

Intel Active Management Technology is designed to work with Intel Virtualization Technology and LaGrande security technology, Intel executives say.

The Active Management Technology, which will let a customer discover, diagnose and repair computer problems remotely even if the computer is turned off, is scheduled to debut in Intel’s Lyndon desktop platform this year.

As for its virtualization technology, Intel has talked about that feature for some time, but at the Developer Forum several key partners, including virtualization specialist VMware and XenSource, said they planned to build support for the Intel technology into their products.

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