How Much Cash for that Cache? . . .

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If you take a look at the AMD pricing chart attached to this article, you’ll see something that at first glance looks absolutely bizarre:

Here’s the late July pricing for the X2s:

  • 5000+: $403
  • 4800+: $645
  • 4600+: $301
  • 4400+: $470
  • 4200+: $240
  • 4000+: $328
  • 3800+: $169

    The late pricing on A64s will be:

  • 4000+: $343
  • 3800+: $142
  • 3700+: $240
  • 3500+: $109
  • 3200+:   $99

    So what makes, say, a 2.0GHz 4000+ X2 worth almost twice as much as a 2.0GHz 3800+ X2, or a single-core 2.2GHz 3700+ worth as much as a dual-core 4200+, or more than twice as much as a single-core 2.2GHz 3500+?

    The answer is: 512K cache.

    What AMD is doing is slashing the prices on CPUs that have 512K cache per core, while leaving the prices on any chips that have 1Mb cache alone.

    This effectively means charging anywhere from $130 to $240 more for one or two extra clumps of 512K cache.

    This is not bang for the buck.

    The Perils of “Poor Sap Pricing”

    Given the price differentials, no one in their right mind is going to buy a 1Mb cache chip. AMD has to hope that there’s a relatively large percentage poor saps out there blissfully unaware of relative pricing.

    This doesn’t seem too likely in the retail market, but it does leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

    One might say, “Smaller cache chips mean AMD can make more CPUs,” and that’s fine, except the purpose of the whole exercise really is to make money, not CPUs. Does it really make sense to effectively force people to buy the cheap chip by keeping the price so high on the higher-priced alternative that only a fool would buy it? Shouldn’t one try to get people to pay more, not less for a CPU?

    (Unless, of course, almost no one was buying the chips at the old prices to begin with, in which case this is a phase-out without the announcement.)

    Or is this a cloud-cookoo land corporate move to show the shallow that AMD’s CPU really do have value (the prices on the FXs aren’t changing, either).

    Whatever it is, it’s weird, and odds are, things are going to get a lot weirder (from both AMD and Intel) the next six months.

    Ed


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