Be True To Your School

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Most of you have a good deal of sense when it comes to choosing between AMD or Intel. You look at what you value most, and you choose based on those values, which usually are at least somewhat reasonable.

Most of you have AMD-based systems. Most of you aren’t too happy with what you’ve been seeing (or really, not seeing) from AMD lately, but you figure you’re hardly hurting and you’ll get little out of a switch right now. You can well afford to sit tight for a while, and see what happens.

In short, you’re doing what you think is best for you. This makes a good deal of sense to you, and it makes a good deal of sense to me, and I’ve said so. I’ve mentioned that the 1.6A deal looks a bit better, but just a bit, and not a must have.

Unfortunately, there are those who don’t quite look upon the situation that way. They are not just consumers, they are fans. This is their sport, they chose their team; they’ll stick with their team through thick and thin, and don’t you dare say anything bad about their team.

I’ve coined terms for these folks: AMDroids for AMD fanatics, and Intelverts for Intel fanatics.

I actually get very few emails from such folks (if I counted them after most critical articles, I’d have spare fingers left on one hand), but since I like to do a complete job, I often launch preemptive strikes against arguments I know I’m going to hear from such folks. What can I say, I’m easily entertained. πŸ™‚

An AMDroid/Intelvert statement differs from others in that:

  1. It rarely if ever seriously contests specific points I make. In fact, it usually stays far away from the facts at hand, but rather . . . .
  2. The cause is more important than any particular inconvenient truth, yet is so fragile that it must be protected from any adverse truth.

Here is most of an AMDroid letter I just received. It’s a particular good example of this type of letter, since it touches upon most of the points these folks bring up, and has the flaws these letters exhibit.

The next time I get a good example of an Intelvert letter, I’ll put it up, also, but the two types are more alike than different. They’re both fanatical, just fanatical for different sides.

Occasionally, I’ll write something. Email #1 will tell me I’m an AMDroid. The next one tells me I’m an Intelvert. Same article, sometimes even the same set of paragraphs. And it never, ever, ever, ever dawns on these people that I might, even theoretically, be anything other than the enemy, or consider for even an instant that perhaps their mental eyeglasses might need some adjustment.

When I get a letter like that, I’m faced with a bit of a problem. If I don’t answer that, there’s a good chance the author will think I’ve been stunned speechless by his brilliance and that I really am some corrupt minion for the other side.

If I answer it, it takes a lot of time.

I thought it might be instructive and perhaps a bit amusing, to go through one of the letters and point out a few things. Maybe I’ll get even fewer of them as a result (or maybe just send a link to this as a response). πŸ™‚

“Tell you what, if you’ll start referring to “Northwood” as the “Asinine Address,” I won’t worry about you calling “Thoroughbred” the “Neglected Nag,” OK? My constructive criticism to you would be that you ladle out the Intel criticism as generously as you ladle out the AMD criticism. . .

This is a “it’s only fair if you equally criticize both parties” argument. I’ll give you an example, and you tell me how much sense it makes.

Your class takes a test. You get all the answers right. The guy behind you gets all the answers wrong. The guy behind you screams to the teacher that she is unfair and biased for not giving the both of you the same grade and not making as many red marks on your paper as she did his.

The following week, your class takes another test. This time the guy behind you is ready and gets 100%, while you blow it. Now it’s your turn with the same argument with the teacher.

How far do either of you get?

The teacher isn’t out to determine who is better. This is not a zero-sum game, with winners and losers. The teacher would be happy if you both got 100% all the time.

The teacher is marking you by an objective standard, did you get it right or not?

For the first year Willamette processors were out, I rarely if ever said anything good about them. I wouldn’t even call them PIVs for most of that period; I called them “Willies” until one understandable Intelvert (she was the wife of an Intel employee) asked me nicely to call them PIVs. I didn’t say that because I loved AMD. I didn’t say that because I hated Intel. I said it because I thought it was a relatively lousy processor.

Over the course of more than a year, not a single AMD fan wrote me to say how unfair I was to Intel, nor demanded I come up with an equally insulting name for Thunderbirds or Palominos to be fair. (I did get a few from Intelverts, though.)

Lately, I’ve been critical (really more skeptical) about the TBreds and Hammer. Up to this point, far less so than with Willy. I’m looking upon this exactly the same way, but now I’m unfair.

Something tells me I’m not going to get any screeches about Neglected Nag from Intel fans, either.

The surprise is not that people do this, but to expect to be taken seriously while doing it. Especially when one seems to think a lousy codename for Processor A is as great a fault as lousy product development for Processor B.

This is like saying, “We compared DEF’s Devastating Diarrhea video card to EFG’s Excelsior card. The Diarrhea ran at 700fps in Q3, while the Excelsior got 20. What a tough choice!”

. . . and you’ll find a whole lot less antagonism from your readership I’ll bet.”

In this particular case, I can see why the person might have read between the lines and thought that. Often, though, when I don’t do that people write me convinced that the cable people had to reinstall my line three times because it keeps melting from the overload of righteous wrath I must be getting.

Half the time, I tell them (truthfully) that they’re the first and only person to complain about what I wrote, and it’s pretty close to popping a balloon.

People often seem to think that if they think something, everybody must think the same way, and it just isn’t so.

“You may, of course, suggest anything you choose regarding AMD, but I think it only prudent to remind you that it doesn’t appear as if AMD asked for
your advice.”

You work in an office in a tall building. One day, one of your coworkers starts opening the window and tells you he thinks gravity is unfair and shouldn’t apply to him. Do you not speak unless spoken to? After he plummets to his death, and your employer and police ask you, “Well, what did you do or say to him?” do you think you’ll be praised and promoted for saying, “Nothing, he didn’t ask me.”

Maybe more to the point, the manager of your team makes a number of dubious moves during a losing streak. If the owner of the team said, “Shut up about the manager until he asks you,” would you?

If the President of the United States asked you to do the same thing, how seriously would you take that?

So why should the president of AMD or his company be any different?

If somebody says something wrong, they certainly are quite capable of setting the record straight.

“Rather, this seems only your own knee-jerk response to other people in your readership who have written you that they also don’t care for your flippant line about AMD at the present moment.”

Preemptive strikes save me time over ambushes. πŸ™‚ Again, I’ve gotten little negative response on this issue.

“Whether you understand this or not, AMD is a much smaller company than Intel, and unlike Intel AMD has never at any time been a monopoly in the x86
marketplace.”

AMD is not exactly the neighborhood candy store. It’s in the Fortune 500, number 424.

True, Intel is #65 on that list. But if you bought a computer from a local store, and it proved to be a lemon, would you say, “That’s OK, they’re 1/1000th the size of Hewlett Packard.”

Being little doesn’t give you license to be lousy. If the neighborhood candy store sells stale candy, and MegaMarket sells fresh candy, do you just keep buying the stale stuff. Don’t you at least say something to the local candy store?

Unlike Intel, AMD simply doesn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars to squander on silly things like RDRAM deployment or Dell’s
advertising budget. In fact, AMD doesn’t have millions of dollars to squander on anything–quite unlike Intel, who will squander it on Rdram, Itanic, Dell, whatever and you name it–Intel has the money to burn and burn
it they certainly have in the last couple of years.

This is what is called a straw horse argument. When you can’t attack the real argument, make up another one that you can destroy, and hope nobody notices the switch.

Unless you think proper product development of what will be AMD’s flagship product to be squandering money, what does this have to do with anything I said?

“People are rightfully a bit sensitive about AMD because people wish them well against Goliath . . .”

Tell the Intelverts that. πŸ™‚ More importantly, AMD doesn’t need sentiments, they need sales. Lots of people have warm, fuzzy feelings about Apple, too, but they don’t buy from them.

“. . . and would like to see them succeed simply to permanently end Intel’s domination of the x86 cpu marketplace”

I’m sure the AMDroids think that, and most would prefer that AMD stick around. The question is how many will pay what price? If the price turns out to be an inferior processor, the loyal AMDroids are going to get lonely fast.

Blind loyalty is a bad substitute for a better product.

“This is a serious and crucial time for the company.”

Indeed it is. Measured by quarter, AMD has lost about a quarter of its marketshare over the past year (from about 22% to probably around 16-17% in the quarter ending in about a week). The total number of processors sold dropped quite a bit the last quarter, from a fairly steady 7.7-7.8 million processors to a figure probably around 6-6.5 million. Sorry I can’t be more exact; AMD considers that a secret at the moment.

People are voting with their feet, and not even Ed Stroligo thinks they’re doing it solely, primarily, or even slightly because Ed Stroligo is telling them to (especially since Ed hasn’t; his advice has been pretty much, “standing pat is fine.”)

Nobody is supposed to notice all these things? Nobody should even suggest to the captain that maybe he needs a little mid-course correction?

Maybe you need that kind of loyalty in the armed forces, but just where are my induction papers to either the AMD Artilery or Intel Infantry. You want to be a volunteer irregular, fine, but I’m not.

“You know, criticizing AMD in this fashion when you know next to nothing about the company or its plans and goals strikes me as easy, safe, and utterly self-serving.”

I think the problem is not that I know too little, but that I understand it too well. πŸ™‚ (Not that this is exactly an achievement, certainly not at this stage.)

This type of argument was very popular during the earlier stages of the Vietnam War. “Just trust the guys in Washington, they have all the facts.” Turned out most of what they kept to themselves were self-delusions.

AMD is perfectly free and capable to explain itself all it likes, and if we have it wrong, we’d be delighted to be corrected.

“Rather, it takes guts to promote AMD because the odds are, and always have been, heavily against them.”

Finally, some comic relief πŸ™‚ I guess joining the Marines was just too easy.

Seriously, what price have you ever paid personally for liking AMD? Were you ostracized from your community? Do you get threatening phone calls? Do your children get teased for it in school? Have Intel death squads been following you around? Have you ever been arrested, or put into prison or worse, for your beliefs?

Did you even have to go to AMD boot camp?

Before you claim your Purple Heart, show me your wounds.

The odds are heavily against AMD to do what? To destroy Intel? Yes. To continue to exist as a competitor? No.

“When you promote and seek to aid AMD you’re going out on a limb; when you do that for Intel you’re
taking no risk at all.”

Do you know what America needs? A 9/11 monument can wait.

America needs a Dr. Pepper Memorial. It needs a 7-Up Shrine. We need these for all those unsung heroes who against enormous odds fought against the evil Coke.

It could be like the Vietnam Memorial, with all the deceased veteran drinkers listed. We could have a Tomb of the Unknown Sipper, too.

Jesus H. Christ, get real!

I hope you’ll lose your attitude because, frankly, it reflects much worse on you than it ever will on AMD–you realize that don’t you?

No.

“Your readership is not going to stop betting on the “neglected nag” just because you tell them to, you know. If anything, they’ll simply stop betting on you,
instead.”

Another “everybody must think like me” statement. The truth is some (not too many yet) have already jumped ship, and more will await future developments. Fairly few will go down with the ship no matter what. Most will hang out and hope for the best later on, maybe a later TBred, maybe Hammer, maybe Barton of son of Barton.

Will the ship go down? I doubt it. I wouldn’t bet on it. But I wouldn’t mortgage my house betting against it, either.

What AMD is doing is basically hoping it can coast with what it has until Hammer (fairly quickly) starts doing extraordinarily well. This is pretty risky. Not suicidal, but risky.

But I guess I shouldn’t say that unless AMD gives me permission.

While you sit there and have a cheap laugh at AMD’s expense, people at AMD are working harder than they ever have . . . .

I just want them to work harder than they apparently ever have on TBred. πŸ™‚

“. . . to make a serious bid for permanence in the marketplace.”

AMD has hardly been around temporarily. Even if everything goes wrong, it probably won’t flop, and even if it does, somebody else will buy it.

But even if AMD flops and flops for the reasons I’ve been suggesting, it’s going to flop for those reasons, not because Ed Stroligo voiced them.

I for one am sorry, too–sorry that AMD doesn’t fit your personal standards
of corporate perfection–but as I said AMD is comparatively speaking a very
small company trying very hard to make good and do something notable and
worthwhile in the marketplace.

As Yoda once said, “Try not. Do. Or do
not. There is no try.”

Why don’t you simply wait and see what AMD does as opposed to making all of
the silly criticisms you’ve gotten in the habit of making lately?

Oh, like Enron?

Somehow I think the problem isn’t with the criticism, but the act of criticizing.

You don’t run the company, you’re not in the board room, and you aren’t privy to what
decisions are being made.

Again, just like Vietnam. Or maybe this is just like Nixon’s “secret plan” to end that war.

So why talk as if you are? Saying this in a nice
way, it makes you look foolish, you know.

Hmmm, I notice late last year from an investor’s roadmap that progress stalls around the
time TBred is supposed to be around. Later, I (and others) notice the wattage on AMD processors doesn’t drop much after .13 micron.
AMD comes out with TBred later than expected, and they deny any problems until they admit it. I notice AMD
dropping things like SOI. Hammer comes out around 800-900MHz, and the official reason given for that doesn’t even make
any sense. The projected final raw MHz speed dips 20% from previous expectations, but the expected PR equivalent doesn’t.

And noticing these things and trying to put the pieces together and wondering if all is well makes me foolish? Well, what kind of fool am I?

If that’s foolishness, what’s wisdom? Just hum “don’t worry, be happy” and wait for the next AMD press release?

” . . . consider that you could actually be a positive for AMD (a tiny little bit, of course) if you’ll just
give them the benefit of the doubt over the next few months–that’s all”

Wow, be an AMDroid. That’s what I’ve always wanted!!! And it’ll be all thanks to you!

The irony is I’ve probably been one of more “pro-AMD” people by telling people to stand pat, and that Intel hasn’t jumped ahead too much. This ought to tell you something about the state of affairs right now.

“. . . if you’ll just give them the benefit of the doubt over the next few months–that’s all.”

Why? Really, why? I remember AMD telling an investor conference that Palomino was imminent. Within two weeks of assuring the investors of that, they tore up the roadmap and Palomino came six months later.

A person or company earns the benefit of the doubt when prior behavior justifies it. When AMD is faced with a problem, they always take the slick route.

Ever heard of “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?”

Not that I think Intel’s appreciably better in this regard, either, though at least Intel can occasionally admit error and make good, like with the 820 boards.

Is He Right?

But let me ask you. Is he right? Am I a fool for being critical? Is AMD (or Intel) above and beyond criticism and we should just report whatever they tell us?

Is there anything in the abovementioned comments you think have some validity (and whatever you say, would you agree to the same on “the other side.”

You know where to find me.

Ed

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