What a difference a year makes.
In 2006, Advanced Micro Devices was still enjoying the good tidings that came along with its Opteron chip, while Intel was fighting to recapture market share and deliver a new line of processors that would help it regain momentum. The companies traded places in 2007, with AMD trying to staunch the bleeding from a prolonged price war and flailing about from a failure to get its Barcelona chip out on time, while Intel sat back and watched revenue and profits improve behind its Core processors.
AMD started off the year on the wrong foot with an inventory write-off. That move was precipitated by a decision to favor its new friend Dell over existing channel partners, a deal that went sour when demand for Dell products fell off. That led to a massive loss, and was followed by an application for a $2.2 billion loan to help pay off the company's acquisition of ATI Technologies.
Barcelona, which AMD so desperately needed to prop up its average selling prices and maintain market share earlier in the year, finally made its debut in September. That was six months later than CEO Hector Ruiz would have hoped, and the chip failed to live up to the performance goals that AMD executives had set earlier in the year. Toss in a bug at the end of the year that delayed the volume launch of Barcelona into 2008, and you can see why AMD executives are eager to get new calendars for their offices.
Intel, on the other hand, has returned to form after a disastrous couple of years highlighted by road map upheaval and layoffs. The company's Core processors continued to improve, and Intel's decision to use a packaged method of two dual-core chips to reach the server market with quad-core chips quickly looked much more prescient in light of AMD's struggles with the integrated four-core design it chose for Barcelona. The company hit a few snags with its graphics and digital-home strategies, but otherwise had an excellent year as it set its sights for 2008 on Silverthorne, a low-power chip designed to worm its way into smaller and smaller devices.
Intel also expanded its lead on the manufacturing front, successfully introducing 45-nanometer chips with a new transistor design that represented the first change to the basic materials of the transistor since the 1960s. It also opened a new chipmaking facility in Arizona, and announced plans to build a chip plant in China by 2010 just prior to holding its Intel Developer Forum in Beijing.
Chipmaker predicts that its quad-core chip will outperform Intel's by 40 percent when it ships later this year.
Intel, IBM and AMD plan to unveil chips built using new materials, marking a historic shift away from traditional transistor ingredients.
E-mails related to Advanced Micro Devices' antitrust case against its chipmaking rival might be lost forever because of human error.
Nehalem processors will use hyperthreading tech found in the old Pentium 4 chips and some of AMD's design tactics.
With most of the world's software written with x86 in mind, it's doubtful that any future chip architecture would be able to displace it.
Images: 35 years of Intel chip design
Chipmaker's decision to hold developer conference in Beijing next week emphasizes how important China is to its future.
What should you make of a company that's 37 years old and $200 million in the hole? CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos has a few ideas.
An attempt by Intel to improve the performance of basic graphics technology has been stalled by software development delays.
With stronger profits to report, Intel's looking forward to this week. Struggling AMD, however, will hope it goes by quickly.
Technical glitches caused more than six months of delays as chipmaker tried to get its first quad-core processor ready, CEO admits.
After a delay, Barcelona is here, but is it the clear winner AMD promised it would be? That's uncertain.
Chip giant isn't content dominating the PC and server markets. It wants to make gains in mobile phones, where competition is stiffer.
The CEO of the world's largest chipmaker wants hardware developers thinking about graphics, low-power applications, and Intel's determination not to let AMD get the best of it again.
Sixteen new chips based on new transistor design have Intel's server group in excellent shape heading into next year.
A bug in Barcelona, AMD's new quad-core server chip, will force the company to delay volume shipments into next year, although the chip is shipping to some high-performance computing customers.
Execs tell analysts that though the company has some interesting products in the pipeline, the Barcelona fiasco will ensure it loses money during the first part of 2008.
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