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Intel Woos Embedded Developers With Support

Intel hopes a new Web site for developers of embedded devices will convince more companies to use its microprocessors.

The site, due to be unveiled in early 2009, will include tools to help engineers determine which Intel chips are best suited for a particular application, reference designs, and discussion forums, where Intel engineers and other developers will offer advice and support.

"Hopefully, it's not just a repository for documents," said Doug Davis, general manager and vice president of Intel's Embedded and Communications Group, in an interview at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei. "We're doing some things that will help customers make the right product selection."

Intel hopes to see cumulative demand for processors surpass 15 billion units by 2015, and expects most of those chips to end up in embedded applications. That category spans a wide range of computer-powered devices, including digital signs, point-of-sale systems, and industrial robots, among many others.

The embedded device market differs from the market for processors used in PCs. In the PC market, demand for a particular chip spikes soon after release and then falls away just as quickly once faster, more powerful processors get introduced. In the embedded device market, demand rises at a slower pace but lasts much, much longer.

For example, Intel's 386 processor has been in production for more than 20 years thanks to ongoing demand for the chip in embedded applications.

The upcoming developer support site is central to Intel's efforts to boost its share of the embedded processor market, where conventional marketing programs, such as the "Intel inside" campaign are not as effective.

One of the reasons why Intel has been so effective in the PC space, is that the "Intel inside" advertisements created a consumer preference for computers based on Intel processors. That approach doesn't work in the embedded space, where consumer preferences don't come in to play as much -- as Intel itself discovered when it tried to expand the "Intel inside" campaign to parts of the embedded market.

Intel hopes the new Web site will lead engineers to prefer its chips over offerings from competitors.

"We're trying to influence the buying decision, really a design-in decision, with engineers. While that brand recognition is important and useful, they're also making that decision on a lot of different characteristics," Davis said.

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