Intel Shows What's Inside

The chipmaker restructured last month. It's set to deliver a progress report at its developer forum.
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, a mere month after making sweeping organizational changes, is ready to put its nascent business units center stage.

This week the chipmaker will host its three-day semiannual conference, dubbed the Intel Developer Forum, for hardware and software engineers. Roughly 5,000 are expected to attend the San Francisco event.

Intel will update the public on the progress of the reorganization -- the chipmaker's effort to replicate the success it achieved with its Centrino bundle of technologies -- with keynote addresses delivered by leaders of three of the five newly created divisions, in addition to CEO Craig Barrett's speech. Also, as part of several likely product announcements, Intel is expected to speak in depth about plans for its dual and multicore chips.

The week won't be all about Intel, however. Just around the corner from Intel's gathering,

Advanced Micro Devices

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is hosting its own set of meetings and briefings where it will have its competing say about the semiconductor world.

AMD, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., is Intel's smaller but primary rival in the market for computer microprocessors and flash memory. The two companies have been waging a battle for years, with AMD recently

scoring several technology coups by being the first mover to dual 64- and 32-bit capable processors for PCs and servers.

Additionally, AMD's plan to move to a dual-core design for its processors pushed Intel to change its game plan and subsequently announce that its dual-core chips would come out in the second quarter, most likely ahead of AMD's chips.

Still, Intel remains firmly in control of its own destiny: The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company posted fourth-quarter financial results that were much better than expected; it recaptured the lead in flash memory from AMD; and


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, the world's largest PC maker and the only box builder that doesn't use AMD chips,

said it was sticking with Intel processors.

For Intel, the week is officially about helping its software and hardware developers get a better understanding of where the company is headed. Unofficially, investors and "nongearheads" watch this show for indications of how smoothly things are running inside Intel.

Analyst Hans Mosesmann with Moors & Cabot told clients that Intel's developer forum could help move the company's shares higher based on expected product announcements, especially concerning dual-core chips, DDR2 chipsets and migration plans to 65-nanometer process technology. "We believe that as the year progresses, it should become increasingly obvious that Intel is shifting the competitive tables on AMD," he said in a research note last week. (Moors & Cabot has no banking relationship with Intel.)

The opening keynote will be delivered by CEO Barrett. This will be his final keynote speech at IDF as Intel's top executive before he passes the reins to President and COO Paul Otellini in May. Barrett will become chairman in the transition.

Barrett's speech is expected to address the ongoing convergence of communications and computing, real-world examples of products that benefit end users, and what the CEO sees happening in the technology industry going forward.

The overriding subject matter during the conference will concern product platforms, such as the Centrino bundle of wireless networking technology. The Centrino brand has been wildly successful in popularizing wireless Internet access. It consists of a Pentium M processor for laptop PCs, a related chipset and networking technology.

Intel has said it believes that by bundling these parts together, the combined package is more appealing and creates a better overall product for consumers. This was the idea behind reorganizing the company around different product platforms.

Centrino now falls under the Mobility Group, led by Sean Maloney and Dadi Perlmutter. The two other primary business units at Intel are the Digital Enterprise Group, which focuses on technologies used by businesses, and the Digital Home Group, which focuses on entertainment and consumer-electronics devices.

Digital Home is led by Don MacDonald. He and Maloney will deliver the keynote address on Wednesday morning. Pat Gelsinger, who with Abhi Talwalkar leads the Digital Enterprise division, will deliver the keynote address Tuesday afternoon. The other keynote speech set for Thursday morning will be given by Justin Rattner, interim head of Intel's Corporate Technology Group.

Among the specific product announcements expected from Intel during the show are updates on more than 10 of its multicore projects, additional details about this year's flash memory product lineup and a new type of server technology called I/O Acceleration.