Intel gets cosy with software firms

Chip giant tempts software vendors to tailor their products to Intel processors by offering engineering support, early access to roadmaps and lots of free advertising

Intel gets cosy with software firms

Intel is hoping to encourage software developers to tailor their products to its latest processors in return for early access to product roadmaps and free marketing.

The chip giant’s newly-launched Software Partner Program is essentially a revamp of its existing Early Access Program, providing partners with sneak previews of its processor roadmaps, support in optimising their software for multi-core processors and now, crucially, marketing for their software.

Intel claims it will be much more open with software partners than it was previously. “In the past, our roadmaps have been very narrow. We said we can show you the roadmap for the next six months, but beyond that? No way. Now we have roadmaps that go three years out,” said Wolfgang Petersen, director of global developer relations at Intel.

Petersen also claims that Intel has 70 engineers across Europe, who can go into software companies and help optimise their software for new architectures. Such initiatives should help reduce the delay between introducing new products – such as the new quad-core processors – and the launch of software that can take advantage of their capabilities.

Intel admits that persuading software developers to launch products that coincide with chip launches is a tricky business. “You’re asking a partner to invest in a product they cannot sell [because the processors haven’t been commercially launched yet]. Sometimes that’s very difficult, especially in the games industry where the lifecycle of a game is around six months,” said Petersen.

Yet, if one thing is likely to tempt software makers to keep pace with the latest processors, it’s free advertising, and Intel is now offering partners access to marketing agencies and cross-promotional activities. “These companies will show up in our advertisements,” said Petersen. “Smaller companies are interested in the Intel brand – that helps them in the marketplace.”

However, the company says it has no plans to introduce a software equivalent of its “Intel Inside” initiative. “If we had a badge saying ‘Optimised for Core 2 Duo’, they [software vendors] don’t want to do this, because they don’t want to cut out the AMD processor market,” Petersen claimed.

Although Intel clearly wants to encourage software makers to optimise their products to its processors, Petersen claims AMD will benefit from better-educated developers too. “There are lots of things where we talk to developers and AMD benefits from this. From a marketing point of view, the job of the leader is to move the market forward.”

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