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Questions hang over AMD after show debacle

Computex 007 Intel was happy, surely
Sat Jun 09 2007, 12:28
I HAVEN'T had a chance to see AMD's upcoming Phenom, Barcelona, Agena, whatever working first hand till now, and was hoping for Computex to be the place for "enlightenment" on this matter.

Too bad, it was not to be - a few sealed machines, not to be seen by the public, don't count. Instead, there were worries, comments, complaints all over the show floor. You've seen our reports on the delays of the new quad core, as well as Intel's Boyd Davis comments - he must have been grinning about his competitor's problems.

Anyway, the feelings among the crowd vary from the mobo vendors complaints about mainboards for AM2+ and Socket G made ready, but no new chips to insert, to an AMD channel partner feeling stuffed, very literally, with a load of current AM2 chips and no takers for them. Why should there be any, when Phenom was supposed to be the next sales phenomenon and sweep the market off its feet? Luckily, Cray wasn't at the show to shed tears over its grievances.

Whether I asked AMD or partners, the Phenom answer on the availability was - "doing our best" or, more often, "no comment". That is far worse than what I was hearing a few months ago.

At the same time, Intel gloated in a probably deserved show victory, with Penryns in multiple PC, workstation and server configurations shown to all and sundry. No hidden tables or secret rooms there, anyone could play with them. The 3.33GHz/FSB 1333 desktop and 3.2GHz/FSB1600 workstatind and server platforms were out with clear specs. Practically, they could have as well officially launched the CPUs - except that, at the official launch, the speeds may be even higher.

Further adding insult to injury, many existing boards using Nforce 680i and Intel P35 chipsets were announced to have full Penryn support - at full FSB speed too, that is. So, if in the mood, without changing anything else, many "enthusiasts" could upgrade the CPUs in their current souped-up PCs and keep their monster systems fully in the fashion and on top of the performance pyramid, at least till Nehalems roll in late next year - all it takes is a BIOS update at most.

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One Intel exec told me that, after seeing the Phenom(enal) fiasco on the show, he felt there may not even have been a need to rush out Penryns so fast, but, since the 45 nm newbie is pretty much ready, may as well let it roll and cement the lead - the train has departed the station, so stepping on the accelerators is the only choice.

If this situation continues and AMD doesn't correct the problem real soon, the victim will not only be AMD's share price - we're talking far more serious consequences, not limited to the vendors asking tough questions. The IT world just wouldn't be the same if AMD falters, even temporarily - proper, timely Barcelona/Agena execution is really "to be or not to be" for the company. AMD, where art thou on the wide Catalonian lands? µ

 

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