Despite issuing a profit warning as PC vendors struggled with inventory problems, Intel posted third-quarter results that beat analyst expectations.
PC Week's Andy Favell caught up with Rob Eckelmann, managing director of Intel, EMEA.
PC Week: A lot of chip manufacturers have been feeling the pinch - does that include microprocessor manufacturers?
Eckelmann: I don't think we are seeing a contraction of the processor area. With the PC market itself growing fairly well, OEMs' results are improving. A lot of the pressure at the moment is in the DRAM area where prices went off the price performance scale and then collapsed. I don't think that will happen in any of the major silicon areas.
PC Week: Has Celeron met expectations? Did bringing out a processor with no on-cache memory taint its image?
Eckelmann: Actually it did better than expected. Volume last quarter was four times the volume for the quarter before, so it has ramped very quickly for the entry-level PC space. Obviously if we had introduced something which was a more potent processor it would have had a stronger image, but also the market was not used to somebody introducing a product which was the latest and greatest. The introduction of the 300A and the 333MHz proves the existence of a roadmap and a development path for Celeron.
That all helps credibility.
PC Week: Do you see the market for Unix on Intel architecture becoming more important?
Eckelmann: Unix on Intel is becoming a more important part of the equation.
Traditionally there has been an association between Intel and NT, I don't expect that to change as we go to NT 5 - I think it will run beautifully on Intel platforms. But I do think there is a segment between now and then, and even thereafter, which Unix will obviously address where applications have already been developed and where it offers the robustness required in a certain type of environment. Meanwhile, we are developing more processing power to the levels required by those platforms. It is definitely a growth segment for us and for the Unix community.
PC Week: How do you see it weighing up to your NT business?
Eckelmann: From a volume point of view, the majority of the market is already NT based but there is still a section at the top end of the market - especially in servers - where Unix is prevalent. We see Unix accounting for the top 10-20% of total servers sold, which accounts for significantly more of server revenues. Intel will become more important in the Unix market. We just haven't had the performance and the multiprocessing capability, but now - especially with the Xeon line and with what will be happening with the multiprocessor over the next 24 months - we're there. It is now clear that we will be running at one Gigahertz (1000MHz) in the year 2000; that will be great for the Unix environment.
PC Week: Intel announced last month that it had taken a stake in Linux-vendor Red Hat. Do you think that Linux developers may question Intel's intentions?
Eckelmann: Hopefully not. Part of the reason that we invested is for the energy and the development around Linux; we are trying to maintain that investment. It's a minority stake, not a controlling interest, so we are not going to make it change direction. We can learn a lot about development directions in the Unix area. We can also ensure, from a capital point of view, that it succeeds.
PC Week: Which other Unix vendors do you work with?
Eckelmann: We have done some work with Sun Solaris and with HP - but we are not picking out certain people from the Unix community. Actually, we would like to see some coherence in the Unix community; we have got involved with some standards activity with the Unix group to try to make that happen. To be honest, as the hardware environment becomes more standard architecture, (coherence) becomes a more realistic possibility, because it will provide a standard platform that developers can write to. Harmonisation is out of the question but there could be some focus and some co-ordinated work to try to bring it as together is possible.
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