“Rumor has it that Apple is a potential customer for the chip because it wants to replace the Motorola PowerPC chips in its Power Mac desktop computers. If IBM were to market the chip not only to Apple, but also to Windows PC OEMs, it would be a revolution: a 64-bit chip that could scale from desktops to the high end of mid-range Wintel-class servers…
Thomas R. Halfhill, senior chip analyst with InStat/MDR, told NewsFactor that although IBM’s new chip seems ‘tailor made’ for professional publishing, he does not expect it to extend the company’s presence in the PC processor market. ‘I don’t see it being a breakthrough product,’ he said. ‘The market has standardized around the [Intel] x86 instruction set. There’s too much new design work to move to another instruction set, and I just can’t see Dell or HP doing that.’
In fact, IBM concedes that 64-bit computing power may be overkill for today’s desktops. Chekib Akrout, vice president of PowerPC and networking technology development at Big Blue, told NewsFactor that the company’s real target is servers running Xeon and, in the future, Itanium 2 chips. Intel’s chips run about 87 percent of today’s servers, according to Gartner Dataquest.
According to Akrout, developers struggling with the total power budget for racks of multiprocessor Web and database servers will be attracted to the 970’s power savings: It is expected to consume just tens of watts, compared with more than 100 watts for the next version of Itanium 2, code-named Madison.
‘If you’re going to compete on raw performance, you’re going to be fighting this installed base of applications,’ Akrout explained. ‘But when you find a technological barrier where designers really have to think differently, then I think you’ve got a chance to catch their attention.’
Performance is a moving target, however, and Intel contends it will blow away any power advantage the 970 currently holds with its next Itanium, dubbed ‘Deerfield,’ to be previewed in February at its developer forum. Moreover, Intel spokesperson Bill Kircos says the business relationships behind Itanium are unstoppable. ‘We’ve got 20 OEMs signed on to Itanium, and seven different operating systems running it,’ he told NewsFactor. ‘I think it’s going to be very difficult to overcome that lead,” reports Tiernan Ray for the NewsFactor Network here.
Supreme confidence on Intel’s part or is that a whiff of fear we smell?