A Cold Shower . . .

Doomsday is approaching on the desktop Hammers. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be Judgment Day.

Maybe the best piece of advice we can give you before this onslaught (and, for that matter, any future ones) is that you should simply stop reading at the first sign of the reviewer getting emotional.

When the reviewer starts sounding like he’s describing his girlfriend rather than a piece of silicon; it’s time to stop.

Because, like a new girlfriend, when the emotions jump in, judgment jumps out.

Or maybe just marketing.

You ought to ask yourself beforehand, “What is the job of a reviewer?” Is he there to tell me about a product, or to sell me a product? Is he there to tell me what I should be bothered about in a product, or is he there to get me hot and bothered about it?

Take a look at the “conventional” computer hardware reviews. Do the reviewers get technically aroused when they review a product? No, they stay calm and rational about it, even when they like it.

In other words, they’re professional about it.

Now being professional doesn’t mean repressing your emotions. What it really means is not getting wound up for little cause.

If someone announced themselves “awed” by a 5% or 10% improvement, I’d say that person is far too easily awed. Wouldn’t you?

“Everyone Has Won And All Must Have Prizes”

(From Alice in Wonderland)

“First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’

“This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, `Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.'”

[After Super Bowl VI, CBS asked Dallas Cowboys running back Duane Thomas about participating in “the ultimate game.”] “If it’s the ultimate, why are they playing it again next year?”

We will have a product introduction Tuesday. It is not the end of the world. It’s just a part of a long, long relay race.

It won’t be surprising if a 2.2GHz Athlon FX does on the whole somewhere between a little better to somewhat better than a 3.2GHz PIV.

However “on the whole” judgments between AMD and Intel products are becoming more and more worthless because results from actual programs are not consistent. Relative results will be all over the place. This is not surprising because the design differences between the AMD and Intel products is widening. Both will have its strengths and weaknesses.

One should expect that a 2.2 FX will kill the 3.2 PIV in some things, and get killed by the PIV in others.

In all likelihood, the FX will kill more than be killed, and the 64 will get killed more than kill. However, what most matters to you is not the overall scoreboard, but rather the specific little competitions that most apply to you.

However, when results are like that, it is very easy to “prove” any result you like simply by using the benchmarks that favor whatever answer you want, and if you nudge the competitor’s hardware down a notch or two, that makes the difference even bigger.

So if you see AMD whomping some PIV by huge margins again and again, that’s not the CPU. That’s the reviewer with an AMD ax to grind.

The same will just as true for Intel’s Extreme Edition and the initial Prescott, which ought to be out a month or so after FX/64. They’ll make an incremental difference, ending up slightly behind or slightly ahead of the FX, but nothing to get terribly excited about. Again, if you see a review showing one of these processors doing a “Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum” number on an FX, somebody is grinding an ax, too, this was will just have Intel inside.

And all this ado will be about products that for all practical purposes will be vaporware to the average. They’ll either not be around at all (Prescott?), be around in such small quantities as to be effectively not around (FX), or be priced so high that no sane average Joe will buy them (all of them).

You want to get me a little excited about any and all of this? Give this to me for $200. That might not get me excited, but it will get me interested. Interested enough to buy.

To me, that’s when the race starts.

Readers Are Responsible, Too

I wish spam filters worked a tenth as well as the ones inside some people’s heads. They pick up what they want to hear, and everything else goes out the window.

Ask yourself this: Do you already know what you want to hear about the FX/64? Do you want to be told the truth, and all of the truth, or have you already figured out what the “truth” is, and won’t hear anything else?

It’s the difference between being an intelligent consumer and being a fanboy.

It never ceases to amaze me to see what should be a cold, objective evaluation turn into an emotional mosh pit, by both “performers” and audiences. I expect to find Spock, but I keep seeing Kirk (and the scene-chewing one, too).

A Flurry of Window Shopping

There’s one personal principle lying deep underneath any judgments made on products. If I wouldn’t buy the thing for myself, how can I possibly suggest or even hint you do?

Maybe that’s a question you ought to ask some people after reading what they have to say: When are you going to buy this? 🙂

Do I have my biases? Sure. I look for value. I want high performance at a (reasonably) low price. I want products that aren’t going to be overshadowed if not obsoleted sooner rather than later.

Those are my biases/criteria. None of these uber-expensive processors meet them. They’re going to be a little better for a lot more money, and they’ll be overshadowed/obsoleted within a year by newer technologies. Because of all this, I don’t think you should buy them, and certainly not at these prices.

Maybe I ought to take a different approach. Talk about AMD and Intel like P2Pers talk about the RIAA. Get real emotional and use loaded words and stuff like that.

In all honesty, I’d have a stronger case to make. 🙂

But no, that isn’t me.

When Tuesday comes along, and numbers are flying all around, we’ll look at them carefully and skeptically, play designated driver, and tell you if there are any true surprises you ought to know about. If you’ve gotten all hot and sweaty elsewhere, we’ll chill you down. 🙂

I’ll be surprised if there are any.


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