Sun & Intel: Digesting the News

Posted on January 22, 2007

So after letting the news sink in a bit I can be a little more focused. There are a lot of angles, so lets take ’em one by one.

From the un-involved Shareholder standpoint this is a good thing. It means that Sun can branch out to a wider audience, isn’t reliant on a single vendor for its X86 offerings, and is on even footing with other systems companies that are offering both Intel and AMD. Intel is a strong company and with the help of Apple is now back in style. Regardless of who is on top of the innovation dogpile, Sun can still benefit, and Andy Bechtolsheim’s team can do even more exciting things. This is a great thing for Sun’s bottom line.

From the enthusiast standpoint this is a massive blow. We’ve (or if you prefer, “I’ve”) enjoyed something of a snobbish “We don’t need Intel, We don’t want Intel” nose in the air. Pairing up the underdog status of both AMD and Solaris made for a great show of what could be done. While Sun Microsystems Inc might not have said it, I know I have had nothing good to say about Intel and in many ways the old Microsoft hatred still lives on through Intel, and so this is sort of like the Sun-Microsoft partnership shock all over again.

From an end-user standpoint this is a time to watch and wait. There has been rumblings about technical innovations at Intel surpassing those of AMD. Since Intel wasn’t an option from Sun a lot of us haven’t been keeping current on that, but I’m sure over the next couple weeks we’ll hear about things we can do with Intel CPU’s that we just won’t get from AMD, at least not as soon. These details will likely justify the move as they continue to appear over time.

From the “paranoid conspiracy theory” standpoint. Doesn’t this just smack of a “Look you guys! You either deliever on XYZ or we’re going to have to partner with Intel! I swear we’ll do it!!” Did something like that happen? Probly not, but if this announcement was part of an episode of “24”, something like that would have happened. 🙂

From the AMD share-holder perspective. I think this has got to be a bit of a shock. Sun and AMD forged something great together. They both had cred of differing kinds and by pairing them together they both benefited. The partnership has helped revive both AMD and Sun. Is that time simply over? It had to end at some point, but as an AMD shareholder I’m going to be increasingly skeptical about the future and I’ll be looking for SELL recommendations to start coming down the pike from analysis. This is definitely a sign that AMD’s head is back on the chopping block and its time to start really digging into those quarterly reports for signs that major change is needed.

So there are a couple potential viewpoints. I think its going to take a long time to put years of Intel bashing behind the company and be able to talk about Sun and Intel with a straight face. Systems won’t appear until late 2007 so we’ve got time for that transition. I’ll miss the defiance against Intel. But I suppose most important for us to remember is that it brings many Sun enthusiasts closer to Apple enthusiasts… they went thought this too and shocking as it was, came out of it stronger than ever.

…but I’m still not happy about it. 🙂