Rushing Willy?

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Yes, the voltage increase is just .05V, and it’s probably to prepare for the 1.7Ghz.

Does this cast doubt on Intel being able to come up with a 2.0Ghz .18 micron Willy? Maybe. One of those will certainly be a furnace. But if nobody’s buying these things at ANY speed, does it matter? Maybe, but not the way you might think.

What’s been ignored in the news reports about Willamette DDR boards being pushed up is that these were supposed to be meant for the “new” Willamettes, not the old ones: different pin sockets. I really doubt Intel is going to make two different types of mobos with two different sockets. Far more likely is a current Willamette popped on the new socket structure.

The most intriguing, and potentially most important consequence of this, is Intel trying to push up deployment of .13 Willy. Remember, a lot of performance enhancements were taken out of the initial Willy. The presumption has been they’d be put back once there was more circuit room at .13. Redesign is not so easy to do.

But if you try to push the new Willy out the door three months faster, there’s going to be intense pressure from above to do as little redesign as possible to get it out the door. This means putting less back in. This means a less competitive chip. It might mean a temporary advantage for Intel over AMD during Christmas 2001.

I’ve gotten the impression Intel now thinks a lot in the short-term, and its decisions are being finance- and marketing-driven with little concern for technical excellence or even feasibility. That gives you a bunch of quick fixes, and patches do not a product make.

Maybe it isn’t all the finance and marketing people’s fault, either. Intel put a huge investment in projects like Itanium, which went on for years and years and years. Itanium’s been described as a chip designed by committee; everybody tossed in everything to the neglect of other projects, and the combination of all that yielded nothing.

Intel’s lost the concept of the happy mean. They do too much or not enough. From a little glimpse here, a little there, I get the impression that Intel’s become a land of buraucratized fiefdoms increasingly divorced from reality. There’s this sense of living off the past; we always were king; therefore we’ll always be.

That kind of thinking is eventually fatal.

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