Intel all about hype, Centaur president says

Intel Corp. is fooling the industry with a challenge to developers to create applications for its multi-gigahertz processors and is merely creating demand for its products that wouldn't exist were it not for the company's hype, said Glenn Henry, president of Centaur Technology Inc. in an interview Monday.

Executives at Centaur Technology, the Austin, Texas-based subsidiary of Via Technologies Inc., wouldn't be expected to say nice things about Intel. Centaur is the plaintiff and the defendant in lawsuits springing from issues including Via's launch of the DDR SDRAM (double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM) chip set for the Pentium 4 processor before Intel released its own chip set supporting DDR SDRAM. Centaur and Via also make the C3 processor, a PC processor that is currently available in speeds up to 866MHz. However much Centaur thinks that Intel hypes each of its new processors to create a market that doesn't exist, Centaur plans to launch faster processors itself in the coming months. Henry's keynote speech Monday will provide a roadmap for his company with a 1GHz C3 processor possibly out by the end of this year, followed next year with processors at speeds of 1.2GHz and 1.3GHz, he said.

"We're sampling (the 1GHz processors) to very, very special customers," Henry said.

But the company's focus with the C3 is still on creating low-cost processors with low power consumption. "We're not designing a product for high Gigahertz," he said. "But our design does yield some perks."

PC users aren't clamoring for 2GHz processors, Henry said, noting that the C3 is aimed at a different market than Pentium processors, for which Intel has to create the demand, rather than the demand coming from users.

"We don't need to create inherent demand," Henry said. "Intel does -- there is no inherent demand for 2GHz processors."

Demand for Centaur products is being helped by the current state of the global economy. "Our message is getting a lot more interest now that there is a lot less disposable income," he said. "And our business plan is not dependent on winning in the U.S.," he said.

On the contrary, the C3 is focused largely on developing countries, including India, Pakistan and Ukraine, Henry said. "Most of our sales are where (US)$10 to $15 makes the difference in sales. We do quite well in those countries without any advertising."

Intel's large advertising budget is its most powerful weapon in the battle to create demand, Henry said.

"They're trying to create a desire for the Pentium 4," he said. "But it's all brand advertising -- they could literally be advertising soap or beer."

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Douglas F. Gray

PC World

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