Some Good Socket 939 News . . . .

What AMD Is Now Doing

According to Digitimes, AMD will release socket 939 Newcastles in speeds ranging from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz. Before, socket 939 Newcastles were only going to come in 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz.

It’s the release of 1.8GHz and 2GHz Newcastles that are important, simply because they’ll be sold at something approaching mainstream pricing.

The 2GHz socket 939 Newcastle will probably be rated a 3200+, which will mean a price tag of $278.

The 1.8GHz socket 939 Newcastle will probably be rated a 3000+, which will mean a price tag of $218.

This is a whole lot better than an entry-level price of $400 for a 2.2GHz. Big OEMs are more likely to carry and push socket 939 systems as a result. Even if they don’t (and don’t think PressHot isn’t the best advertising AMD can have in those circles), little OEMs will likely sell a lot more of them.

On the enthusiast level, what this will do is get people starting to buy into the Hammer platform, and for practical purposes lock them into it. The average person will probably buy a system in the spring, and at least hope that they can replace the CPU with a 90nm early next year.

That’s a lot better than keeping impatient AMD fans on the sidelines so long that even PressHots start looking good to them.

On The Overclocking Front

For starters, there’s no point in buying a socket 754 system any longer. Wait for this.

There are also two other key details that aren’t nailed down yet.

It’s probably safe to assume that Newcastles will be multiplier locked. Given what the next stepping of these chips will likely be capable of (a ballpark estimate is probably 2.4GHz), this will be no big deal provided socket 939 boards come with a PCI/AGP lock. If this Inquirer story is correct, the nForce 250 chipset will provide that.

The second issue is longevity. It would be wise for AMD to indicate ASAP whether these boards will run 90nm chips. This would help multiply the number of early socket 939 adapters.

Everything Doesn’t Suck Anymore!

Is this a must buy? No. If you’re not hurting, and want to wait until 2005 to replace your socket A, this is no reason to change most of your minds.

But if for whatever reason you want a new one (assuming no big problems pop up), at least now you’ve got a decent option to look forward to fairly soon.

Do you know how depressing it is to conclude that everything new out there not only sucks for one reason or another, but is going to keep sucking for a long, long time? And then you not only have to think it, but write about it just about every day?

It’s not fun sounding like the computing version of Kurt Cobain. :)

But this is something that at least looks OK on paper and on the wallet, which is a lot better than we’ve had the last six months. Not great, not a red alert, but something a person can buy to play Doom III on without feeling you’ll regret it.

Finally, it passes the ultimate test. Would I buy this with my own money? For the first time in a long time, I can say “Yes.”

Of course, there are lots of things that could derail this happy train, but at least there’s something for some of us to look forward to this year.

P.S.: Dear AMDroids

Just to make this clear. An AMDroid is an extremist who thinks AMD can do no wrong. If you think AMD can make mistakes, you’re not an AMDroid. Most AMD fans are not AMDroids.

You know, for somebody whom you think is so anti-AMD, how come they end up changing their minds and doing what I suggested in the first place? :)

I carried on about AMD’s pricing strategy
for socket 939 chips, saying that they needed to get lower speed-rated chips at mainstream prices so a lot of people would actually buy the things.

More than a few of you wrote me to say how wrong I was and how right AMD was, rather often saying effectively “Let the poor eat socket 754s.”

What do you have to say now? :)

Now I’m not claiming credit for this change of heart (that’s probably due to lackluster Hammer sales). Just want to point out to those who think blind loyalty is a virtue that when I say AMD is doing something that doesn’t make sense, it’s not because I hate the company. It’s because they’re doing some that probably doesn’t make sense and that I think will hurt the company in the long-run.

You should never take the attitude, “My company, right or wrong” simply because you want “your” company to be right, not wrong.

Ed

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