06:05 AM

IDF Notes . . . Dinner With AMD: Would An ARM Deal Make Sense?

I've been at the Intel Developer Forum and related events for much of this week. It's an important show for Intel and the vast sector that works on developing new PC technologies such as USB 3.0.

Monday early evening I was at the Mobility Meetup in The Metreon. The event was just the right size in that it wasn't too crowded which meant I could spend a decent amount of time with people.

At one point it seemed to become a mini-Podtech reunion. I ran into about five former colleagues from Podtech, they were at IDF shooting video and doing interviews.

The Metreon is a very visible example of the poor economy in San Francisco. This used to be one of the top retail locations downtown. It used to have a huge Discovery store, Sony and Microsoft operated large flagship stores, and there were some excellent restaurants and other venues.

The iMax and movie theaters are still there but all of the retailers are gone and it looks like a ghost town. A Farmers market has taken over part of the retail area but it looks out of place in the modern surroundings that used to be part of a high-tech retailing hub

Later that evening I had dinner with Advanced Micro Device's Patrick Moorhead and a small group of reporters and analysts. Mr Moorhead is VP and head of advanced marketing at AMD, he is also one of its chief strategists.

Every year AMD holds some shadow events around IDF because it's a great opportunity to piggyback off of Intel's efforts to bring together thousands of developers and reporters from around the world.

Dinner with Mr Moorhead was interesting. Among the topics at the table were USB 3.0, the latest supercharged version of USB. Mr Moorhead is upset that Intel has grabbed all the credit for USB through its widely seen TV and online videos that celebrate co-inventor Alay Bhatt.

The truth is that more than 500 companies contributed to the continuing development of USB.

I asked if there might be a tie up between AMD and ARM. ARM is the most direct competitor to Intel's Atom microprocessor architecture and AMD has no equivalent nor does it have any plans for an Atom-like device. An alliance between the two companies would make seem to make sense.

AMD could provide an X86 component which ARM doesn't have. And ARM could provide highly optimized high-performance processors running at very low power for a variety of consumer electronic and mobile computing devices.

I was told by AMD that ARM thinks of itself very highly, and to paraphrase, that it likes its own smell too much. Which makes me think that the two companies have had some contact recently.

"ARM Spurns AMD's Advances" would make for an interesting headline but I can't write it yet unless I get a lot more details.

It's good to see that AMD is still around. It's managed to do that by being just a little bit more nimble than Intel. For example, It got into low-power microprocessors a lot sooner than Intel. First on the client side and then on the server side which became the way it got into the lucrative business server market.

Intel always catches up and more, but it's like a huge supertanker, and it takes it a while to change course. And Intel needs a scrappy competitor such as AMD. It keeps it on its toes.

It'll be interesting to see if AMD can continue to survive against the huge resources of Intel. The latest market research from iSuppli shows Intel's share of global microprocessor markets is at a new four-year high.

AMD continues to claim that Intel's dominance is achieved through anti-trust business practices. Legal battles in Europe and in the US continue to try to get to the truth of this long-running disagreement.

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Please see:

Intel Reorg Moves Maloney Into Key Position - SiliconValleyWatcher

Intel Stars Commercial Portrays USB Inventor Alay Bhatt as a ...