Intel CEO Gelsinger Declares AMD's Lead Is History When Alder Lake Kill Shot Arrives

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger
When Intel brought back its former CTO Pat Gelsinger to helm the ship, the company knew it was bringing aboard a supremely confident and capable leader—Gelsinger's resume is nothing short of impressive. Since replacing Bob Swan in the role as CEO, Gelsinger has said all the right things, and put into motion an ambitious plan to return Intel to its former glory as a chip leader. And now less than nine months on the job, he's already declaring imminent victory over rival AMD.

Some context is needed here. For decades, Intel has been the dominant player in the CPU space. It still is, if going by market share and revenue. But its initial struggles getting to 10-nanometer manufacturing with Cannon Lake combined with AMD hitting pay dirt with Zen allowed the competitive landscape to change. In almost the blink of an eye, AMD wielded the more impressive technology.

Intel might dispute that, though most enthusiasts would agree that Zen is now the cool kid on the block. Especially Zen 3, where AMD really hit its stride. Supposing someone were to offer a choice of free platforms to a user based on flagship chips from both companies, a 16-core/32-thread AMD Ryzen 9 5950X system or an 8-core/16-thread Intel Core i9-11900K setup, most people would likely choose the former.

Pricing and other factors play into the actual decision making process, but suffice to say, AMD has an impressive lineup. That much even Gelsinger is willing to acknowledge. But it comes with a caveat—while AMD has done well up to this point, the party's over once its next-gen CPUs arrive.

"AMD has done a solid job over the last couple of years. We won’t dismiss them of the good work that they’ve done, but that’s over with Alder Lake and Sapphire Rapids," Gelsinger told CRN during a recent interview. "We have the best product."

That's one heck of an impactful statement, or a bold prediction, depending on your outlook. In no certain terms, Gelsinger said he's pushing a "torrid pace" at Intel in pursuit of becoming the "unquestioned leader" in every product category that the company is a part of, desktop CPUs obviously included.

It amounts to Gelsinger thanking AMD for keeping Intel's seat warm on the throne, now shove off, and take your pie with you. He was just a touch more diplomatic about it. Now the pressure is on Intel to live up to the hype, because that's the kind of statement people will look back at, whether things turn out in Alder Lake's favor or not.

Indeed, a bevy of early Alder Lake benchmark leaks suggests it is the real deal. Combined with Windows 11, which just dropped today and makes better use of hybrid architectures, Alder Lake looks promising, to say the least. But we won't really know until it actually arrives.

At the same time, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su has done a fantastic job in her role as well, and is also supremely confident in AMD's future. It's not like AMD is standing pat, either. It is getting ready to inject stacked 3D V-cache into its current-generation Ryzen processors for a healthy performance boost in some areas (like gaming), and sometime next year it will release its Zen 4 lineup.

What this all means for consumers is, we're in good shape. Competition is alive and well between the two x86 players, and neither company has any interest in taking their foot off the gas. Let the next lap in the race begin.

You check out Gelsinger's full interview for his thoughts on other subjects.