Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. plan to leverage their partnerships with the system builder community to reach the small and medium-sized business marketplace in Canada.

Earlier this week, AMD and Intel gave keynote presentations to system builder executives at Comptia Canada’s

2004 System Builder Breakaway event in Mont Tremblant, Que.

In a 45 minute presentation set up in a talk show format, AMD told system builders about the AMD Solution Provider Program that was launched last year.

The new program, which replaced the ResellerPro program, was introduced to use the VAR community to drive customers from 32-bit computing to 64-bit computing with its Athlon 64 line on the desktop and mobile side and Opteron line on the server side. It is split into three levels, member, gold and platinum, depending on variables including level of commitment and experience.

“”The 64-bit transition with Microsoft coming on board, IBM and Sun and others driving it, it’s very clear that that transition is happening this year,”” said Gary Bixler, field marketing manager for AMD, who was the keynote speaker for the event. Microsoft is expected to come out with 64-bit software sometime in the second half of this year, which is currently available in Beta version.

Joining Bixler on the panel was David Barclay, product marketing manager for AMD, and Ryan Crouch, market development manager for AMD.

On the desktop side, Crouch said AMD expects the Athlon 64 processor to move more into the mainstream market in addition to its popularity with niche markets including gaming and video encoding. Two key features that will help AMD achieve this, said Crouch, are anti-virus protection and cool and quiet technology, which reduces overheating and cuts down on power consumption.

In the server realm, Barclay said the Opteron processor, which launched last April, is also beginning to make the transition to mainstream markets with its database applications in the medical and scientific fields.

But the real benefit for the SMB market space who don’t have the capital to replace PCs every couple of years is in the cost savings a few years down the road when they’re making the switch to 64-bit software, adds Bixler.

“”They know when they do make the transition in a few years to 64-bit software that their hardware is already there,”” he said. “”They’re not going to have to go out and re-buy hardware.””

Taking a more traditional approach to presenting using Power Point, Intel told execs about technologies such as PC refresh, wireless mobility and server infrastructure.

“”The digital home is something we’re seeing a lot of,”” said Blake Sweeten, channel program manager for Intel. “”The dynamics are changing in that the way people are using systems is different.””

With Intel execs away at another event this week and no new announcements, Sweeten failed to generate excitement from the system builder crowd.

Paul Profeta of Forest Computers, a Winnipeg-based solution provider, said he wasn’t impressed with Intel’s presentation but did enjoy AMD’s escape from Power Point.

“”AMD has a good strategy and cutting-edge products that are innovative,”” said Profeta, adding that Forest Computers has been partnered with AMD for four years now. “”They’ve come a long way with Athlon.””

But Frankie Wong, president of Elco Systems, a Toronto-based systems builder, was less enthusiastic than Profeta about the presentations.

“”It was the usual Intel presentation,”” said Wong, adding that the presentation didn’t give any more information about Intel’s mobile technology, Centrino.

Wong also said he felt that AMD’s programs to offer system builders were not informative enough. “”I can find that out from the Web anytime. They should be more specific. They depend too much on the Web,”” he said, citing AMD and other manufacturers who tell customers like him to go to the Web to find out more information instead of sending out a sales rep to facilitate one-to-one meetings that are more personal.

More than 40 vendors attended the three-day Breakaway conference.

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