In watching the Barcelona launch it struck me that the real competitive dynamic between Intel and AMD has very little to do with technology now, but I wonder if either company fully understands this.
Let me walk you through how I came to this conclusion and then talk about what it means.
Barcelona Launch Hoopla
AMDs launch for their newest flagship part was a large (for them) event with representation by each of the companies supporting the offering. In fact there were so many folks talking, but unfortunately not really saying much, that it was a little hard to pull out the value of what was being said.
|Smart IT Columns|
AMD's 'Barcelona' Ready For Takeoff
AMD CEO Predicts 'An Innovation Tsunami'
Dell Challenges Virtualization 'Myths'
Microsoft, Sun Green-Light Server Pact
The problems with launch events is that often the vendors focus on quantity and not quality. They want lots of executives to get credit, they dont want to anger any partners, and the end result is an overlong event that has very little real content. If you look at an Apple launch event youll generally see the best of this. I could go down a long list of vendors who repetitively do these things badly, wasting millions of dollars and a lot of sales opportunity in the process.
To be kind, the AMD event wasnt really in the Apple class but, if you paid attention and dug through the massive amount of rhetoric (and got over the fact that they werent going to feed you until it was over) there was some really interesting stuff said.
Industrial Light and Magic
Three talks stood out (well 4, but the 4th was Sun and that was a story in and of itself). The opening talk by one of the most powerful executives for Lucas Films and Industrial Light and Magic was what got me thinking that we just havent been looking at the battle between Intel and AMD properly. Weve bee ignoring the real differences between the firms.
In what was the most impassioned talk I have ever heard from an end-user advocate, the Lucas executive praised AMD and actually called Intel evil, indicating they had been let down catastrophically by Intel, and implying AMD had saved their company. Seriously, you dont get this from major customers very often and it was the first time Id actually been present when this happened.
In short what had happened, according to the speaker, was that early on they had gone to Intel to help create the magic that became Industrial Light and Magic, the company that dominates the digital graphics market for movies. Everything they are didnt exist back then and they desperately needed help creating the foundation platform to build this powerful company one. After a lot of work with Intel, Intel walked away from the project. AMD stepped in; the implication was that most of the wonderful stuff weve seen in movies wouldnt have existed without them. According to Lucas Films, Intel is basically locked out of this very influential industry as a result (that was a little hard to believe given Intels breadth but it sure was passionately delivered).
No real mention of technical prowess, instead it was the power to partner that was the differentiator, allowing AMD to dominate a very important segment and gain what appears to be an incredibly powerful ally.