A senior official from one of Intel's major chipset customers told at CeBit that Intel will follow AMD's lead, and introduce desktop, workstation and server CPUs with AMD64 instructions and AMD64 style integrated memory controllers.
With this confirmation, it seems to us that there are significant implications to Intel’s future business models.
Intel’s strategy has been to supply a mainboard chipset with every processor.
Aside from the significant revenue they receive for this, it also opened the potential for Intel to exercise control over all the third party Taiwanese mainboard manufacturers and other partners and customers. This market dominating position has been a key factor in Intel’s success.
The flipside of this is that AMD have mostly struggled and often pretty miserably – especially in the early days - in gaining the full cooperation and focus from the same manufacturers and infrastructure partners. The present situation is however much more rosy, but we think that if AMD can keep their head above water, flog its wares and keep the revenue rolling in, then the pain will ease as time goes on.
So if, as Intel seem to plan, it intends to remove the need for a Northbridge – where system memory controllers typically reside - this opens a very wide window of opportunity for mainboard manufacturers who don’t want to be beholden to Intel to buy more, or perhaps, probably all, the Southbridges from their Taiwanese compatriots such as SiS, ULI and VIA, not to mention offerings from ATi and Nvidia.
Will Intel then withdraw from the mainboard business altogether?