Sweet Little Lies?

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There’s some very interesting comments from Abit about the Athlon64 over here:

“Athlon 64 will definitely have a huge impact on the market, particularly the high end. However, the vast middle of performance users and gamers who haven’t won the lottery will not be much affected by this. . . . Athlon 64 will be making it’s actual sales impact by the end of Q1, or earlier at the end of Q4’03 if AMD can ramp up production to meet the demand from the channel. However, this seems unlikely, so a Q1’04 scenario is the most plausible. Keep in mind that this will only affect the very high-end of the market: mainstream sales will likely be dominated by K7 based solutions for another year.”

Makes me look like an optimist.

Entering the Dull Ages

I got this email the other day:

“Don’t you ever get bored of negativity? I realize you want to tell it like it is. How many times a day do you like telling people they are going to jail for using P to P and AMD is the Titanic? I learned how to volt mod my NF7-S here. What about stuff like this? . . . I’m sorry but this is Ed’s soapbox, and a depressing one at that. I think you know it as you are combining P to P articles, errr well trying to I suppose, so do the same for AMD. Oh yeah… and what about overclocking!”

I understand the sentiment.

But, for a moment, take a trip into my head when I look down the road:

“Hmmm, what am I going to talk about the next year? Athlon64 will be out the end of September. They look like they’re going to suck, and be too expensive for my audience to buy for a long, long time.

“Next comes Prescott. It’s beginning to look like Intel’s having major problems with 90nm. Maybe the strained silicon is a problem. If Intel doesn’t fix the heat problem, that will be a killer for most overclockers. Looks like there’s a good chance Prescotts are going to suck, too.

“So by the end of the year, I’ll probably be saying AND AND Intel suck. Then people will tell me I’m getting paid off by VIa. No problem, for what the average does, Via processors will still suck, too.

“You have to admit I’m fair. 🙂

“Video cards? Nobody wants to sell a very good card for less than $250 anymore. Looks like ATI would rather not sell Radeon 9700s than sell them for less than $200; the price on Radeon 9700 is just about the same as Radeon 9800s. Should we be like other places and pretend Radeon 9600s are great?

“Memory? All memory people are doing is rebadging current modults and selling them with higher numbers. The technology has hit its limits, and DDR-II won’t move the yardsticks for quite some time.

“Anything else? Who gets excited about anything else? What percentage of people really get excited about hard drives?

“DVD-burners? Wonderful. Tell people how they can help out the local Blockbuster by making an archival copy of their entire inventory, just in case the store catches on fire or gets hit by terrorists, or something as likely as that.

“Just focus on tinkering? There really isn’t all that much tinkering going on, and most overclockers are allergic to soldering irons anyway. Besides, what is there left to tinker with for the old stuff, hardware-wise, that most people would want to do? Very few people are going to buy the expensive new stuff, and for the prices they pay, most aren’t not going to be too willing to chance destroying it.

“Overclocking? We know what current processors can do, and they’re not going to get better at it. The action is moving on to the next generation.

I’m Tired Of Bad News

You think you have it bad? Imagine you’re Saddam Hussein. Talk about a guy who doesn’t want to hear it anymore! But really, what choice does he have? What good does it do him for someone to tell him his sons aren’t dead? That the Americans and Company haven’t taken over Iraq? That he’s not in hiding and on the run?

He can pretend none of this is true, or just think about some little guerilla attack, but he would just be kidding himself. He’s in deep doo-doo, and that’s just the way it is. Pretending otherwise is just that, pretending.

Saddam was never big on hearing bad news. He never wanted to hear things like “the Americans are going to kick your ass.”

See where it got him?

Let’s Pretend The Train Is Moving

Let’s face it, the most “exciting” thing that can happen to the average overclocker over the next year is to get sued by the RIAA, and you can’t even count on that.

The only competition to that is watching the AMDroids crash and burn when they realize the initial Athlon64s aren’t even AthlonXP killers, much less Intel killers.

This isn’t exactly a hell of a lot to look forward to.

The next year will be dominated by two trends:

Further advances are going to be much harder, for at least a while. The easy, cheap performance increases in silicon are over. To get better, companies have to put a lot more into it, and they’re having more and more problems with it. AMD got burned with SOI; Intel may be getting burned because they didn’t do SOI, and their alternatives may not be panning out too well. A lot of other companies, most notably nVidia, had plenty of chip problems, too.

These problems will get resolved one way or the other, but at the least, the pace of improvement is going to slow down for a fairly extended period of time, at least until companies get the new technologies down. Combine that with “how much price and pain am I willing to go through to get 4GHz rather than an easy 3.2,” and you have a less than thriving market.

Manufacturers smell money for this market, and will try to milk it for all it is worth. ATI and nVidia already are doing that; it looks like AMD wants to.

Some may notice that the two trends are sort of contradictory. How do you get a lot more money for a product that’s only a little better?

You play games, that’s how you do it. You pretend the train is moving, and hope the audience doesn’t look out the window.

You also hope that your (generally young) audience gets so impatient to do some new that they’ll lay out money to anyone who promises that.

In short, “Tell me sweet little lies.”

That’s not what we’re about. We’re not interested in new; we’re interested in new and better. Significantly better.

And that’s not going to come for quite a while. That may be bad news to some; it may be depressing news to others. But “bad” or “depressing” doesn’t cancel out the “news” part.

The Silver Lining

Now you can spend money on something else! Or you can learn a good habit and save some money, a little at a time, so you’ll be ready in a year or eighteen months to buy the CPU and mobo and DDR-II and PCI Express video card and all in one shot.

And if enough of you say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” the manufacturers may stop thinking of you as the bunch of kids with no self-control and drop some prices, especially in the video card area.

Don’t worry, I won’t write “everything sucks” articles for a year; I’ll go mad doing that. We’ll just put on our thinking caps and explore some other areas, we have a few ideas.

But don’t let your impatience get the better of your wallet.

Email Ed

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