Intel leads 32/64-bit chip sales, CEO says

Craig Barrett says his company is surpassing AMD in shipments of x86 chips that run both 32- and 64-bit software.

SAN FRANCISCO--Advanced Micro Devices may have come to market with the first x86 chips that can run both 32-bit and 64-bit software, but Intel's chief said his company has surpassed AMD in shipments in that sector.

"We are outshipping the competition in that space," Intel CEO Craig Barrett said in an interview with reporters following his keynote speech here at the company's developer forum.

Although AMD has been shipping those kinds of chips for about a year longer than rival Intel, the law of large numbers favors Intel. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company controls more than 90 percent of the market for so-called x86 server chips, which are special derivatives of regular desktop processors.

Intel began shipping chips with the dual capability last April. (64-bit chips can handle more memory, a huge performance advantage when running databases.)

Overall, Intel accounts for about 82 percent of all of the x86 chips shipped. Also, x86 chips account for more than 90 percent of the server chips shipped today.

Barrett was also quick to defend Intel's Itanium chip, a 64-bit chip that runs different software. The development began on Itanium in the late 1980s. "We said we'd need a new architecture for high-end computing, that a new architecture was needed, and a simple extension wouldn't do it," he said.

On a separate note, Barrett discussed the pending changing of the guard at Intel. In May, he will give up the CEO title to Paul Otellini and become chairman, replacing Andy Grove.

As chairman, Barrett will participate in formulating strategies for Intel and will be the public face for the company when meeting with government officials, international dignitaries and educational leaders. Among the issues facing Intel and other technology companies are the declining standards of education in the United States and the lack of support for basic research by many governments, he said.

Like other high-tech giants, Intel will continue to garner more revenue and conduct more development overseas. "Seventy-five percent or so of our revenue comes from outside the U.S.," he said.

A substantial part of the responsibility for overseas sales will fall to the company's channel products group. Formed in January and run by longtime Intel executive Bill Siu, the group will try to encourage small dealers worldwide to adopt Intel silicon. In contrast to the other Intel groups, which are based in Santa Clara and Oregon, the channel group will be based in Shanghai, Barrett said.

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