Yeahs and Nays For 2007 . . .

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Computing Event of the Year

The Year of Implosion It was the year of publicly heading to hell. The most prominent Hades-header was AMD, who talked and talked and talked for the first eight months of the year, then couldn’t even crawl the crawl, much less walk the walk, the last four.

But they weren’t the only ones who suffered implosion. Memory prices collapsed the first half of the year, and didn’t recover. While “implosion” might not be quite the right word to describe Vista sales, MS certainly didn’t have a good year with it.

Overclocking Product of the Year

Intel Q6600 It brought quad-core to the world at a reasonable price. It will shortly be replaced by even better Yorkfields, but what’s scary about this product is that AMD not only doesn’t have anything that can beat it OC’d now, it may not have anything that can beat it by the end of next year.

Dog of the Year

Microsoft Vista: This was a really tough choice; AMD tried so hard to win this year! However, since this bloatware affected a lot more people, we have to give this award to MS this year.

Many compare Vista to Windows Milennium Edition. In some ways, I think it is worse, not in the sense that the product is worse, but the company making it. When MS put out ME, they had Windows 2000 as a ready substitute, with XP in the wings. They have no such ready option now

MS seems to be slowly sinking into a bureaucratic coma just when some Penguin people are coming out with products like Ubuntu that you might actually put on a non-geek’s machine. This company is going to be in deep trouble if the Intel Silverthorne “less is more” approach catches fire in a couple years.

Honorable Mention: AMD K10 Call it Barcelona, call it Phenom, call it bad.

Winner of the Year

Intel and nVidia: This is an odd award. Neither party did anything tremendous in 2007, but compared to the competition. The fight between Intel/nVidia and AMD in 2007 looked like the first part of this Monty Python scene, and I fear 2008 is going to look like the last part.

Loser of the Year

AMD: I’ll let somebody else describe this:

“. . . not only did the chip maker screw up anything it touched this year but it also lost the credibility it had built up over the last few years. . . . AMD took a heavy tumble and regained some of its former reputation for laughable over-promising and under-delivering.”

Survivor Award

None: You might think AMD head Hector Ruiz was a lock for this position, but since we don’t think he’s going to be around much longer, we’ll hold the award vacant. If we’re wrong, and he’s still around, we’ll retroactively give him this one.

Slick Willy Award

Henri Richard: He led the “We’re going to wipe the floor with you, Intel” AMD PR charge, then got himself another good job just before things began to hit the fan.

What To Watch In 2008

What Is Going To Happen To AMD? We don’t think 45nm K10s are going to turn the ship around; they’ll just be a bunch of tweaks on the current K10s, and by the time they show up, so will Intel’s Nehalem. We predict the O/C performance gap between Intel and AMD will be wider this time next year than it is now.

Again, unfortunately, the big AMD story in 2008 won’t be the products, but the company itself.

The AMD that we’ve known since the Athlon, that is, an independent company that is a reasonably legitimate challenger to Intel, is now on life support.

We don’t think that AMD is going to recover. We think that AMD is going to die. However, that’s not the same as saying that they’re going out of business.

It means it’s going to become something else.

Either AMD will turn itself into a big version of Via and dwindle away, or one way or another, by hook or by crook, control is going to stripped away from those who now have it, and other people will take charge. It may happen in 2008; it may happen in 2009. It might involve bankruptcy, more likely, there will be a big financial reorganization.

If it’s the latter, the battle for control is going to be mostly secretive, prolonged, and ugly, and no happy ending is guaranteed.

In the meantime, though, for at least a year or two, it’s going to be an Intel world on the performance end.

Will Vista Get Any Better? It’s probably a forlorn hope to expect Vista to perform much better with SP1, which leaves 64-bit Vista as the only real possibility of extra speed. Will Vista64 begin to take off in 2008, and will real 64-bit programs start showing up, or will it remain a niche product?

How Much Better Will Nehalem Be? With its integrated memory controller and newish architecture, will Nehalem be another C2D, or another Penryn?

Ed


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