INTEL CEO Paul Otellini said he expects to see the chip market rebound next year.
Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit 2009 in San Francisco, Otellini said that the market hit bottom sooner than he had expected and is growing thanks to strong demand in China and from consumer buyers worldwide.
"We found bottom. Actually, I think we found bottom much earlier than everyone thought we would," he said.
The 2010 boost will come from corporate hardware refreshes, he predicted, pointing out that the typical corporate PC is getting quite long in the tooth, with the average company desktop now five years old and the average laptop four years old.
The cost of powering and maintaining this ageing fleet is now starting to outweigh the purchase price of new equipment, and head beancounters are getting that message, according to Otellini. He acknowledged that corporate budgets are still tight but said he expects that they should free up next year.
As for chip design, Otellini said that silicon is running out of time as a semiconductor material, and that Intel will produce three more generations of silicon processors at best before moving on to new materials.
Since Intel's tick-tock fab process shrink and refinement cycle takes two years per chip generation and it's currently between the tick and the tock with its Nehalem processors, we can extrapolate to guess that Intel might be planning on fabbing chips using innovative materials and processes sometime around 2017.
Chipzilla has already produced chips using new materials, but Otellini declined to give more details. "It's cool. Trust me," he said.
Otellini added that there are still concerns ahead for the chip industry. He was particularly critical of tax deferments being considered by the US government and how they might affect the forthcoming recovery.
He also spoke of the need to reform the patent system. Patents should be used to protect an individual's invention, he said, not as legal clubs for patent trolls to wield in order to extort money from companies. µ