A Quick Hammer Poll: The Results

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Here’s the results from the poll we took a little while ago.

Scenario 1:

90nm Athlon64 Hammers start off at $500 and drop to around $270 by next July. By then, the cheapest socket 939 130nm Hammer is about $160; cheapest socket 754 is about $140. The cheapest socket 754 Sempron is $90.

Assume the average socket 939 mobo will cost about $130 by next July; the average socket 754 will cost about $90. Assume you can get either AGP or PCI Express versions at the same price.

Socket 939 systems will need two matched sticks of RAM, socket 754 systems will only need one.

1) What do you buy over the course of the year?

a) 90nm Hammer: 16%
b) 130nm socket 939 Hammer: 44%
c) 130nm socket 754 Hammer: 3%
d) 130nm socket 754 Sempron: 3%
e) Nothing, or none of the above: 33%

There’s two items of note from this results:


First, at least for this audience, there is almost negligible interest in socket 754, whether Sempron or not, once better options are available. There was little positive comment about socket 754 Semprons, other than to say that some were interested in using it to build Joe Sixpack boxes for others.

Second, as you’ll see, what people really want are 90nm Hammers at a fairly reasonable price. $270 is not considered a reasonable price by most people, and their response is either to settle for a cheaper 130nm Hammer or stay on the sideline.

Scenario 2:

90mn Athlon64 Hammers start off at $500, and drop to about $200 by next July. By then, the cheapest socket 939 130nm Hammer is about $160; cheapest socket 754 is about $140. The cheapest socket 754 Sempron is $90.

Assume the same mobo costs and memory requirement as in scenario 1.

2) What do you buy over the course of the year?

a) 90nm Hammer: 45%
b) 130nm socket 939 Hammer: 25%
c) 130nm socket 754 Hammer: 2%
d) 130nm socket 754 Sempron: 3%
e) Nothing, or none of the above: 25%

There are two big shifts that occur once you bring the price of a 90nm. The more obvious one is that the percentage of 90nm Hammer buyers jumps from just 16% to 45% of the audience.

What is less obvious, but perhaps more important, is that the percentage of Hammer buyers overall goes from 60% to 70%. A sizable chunk of those sitting on the sidelines will jump in at what is still a pretty high price point from AMD users’ perspective.

Scenario 3:

90mn Athlon64 Hammers start off at $500, and drop to about $170 by next July. By then, the cheapest socket 939 130nm Hammer is about $140; cheapest socket 754 is about $120. The cheapest socket 754 Sempron is $90.

Assume the same mobo costs and memory requirement as in scenario 1.

3) What do you buy over the course of the year?

a) 90nm Hammer: 73%
b) 130nm socket 939 Hammer: 7%
c) 130nm socket 754 Hammer: 0%
d) 130nm socket 754 Sempron: 3%
e) Nothing, or none of the above: 16%

The trend we saw in scenario 2 continues. Another big jump in people buying 90nm Hammers (45% to 73%), another rise in people buying “real” Hammers (from 70% to 80%), another significant drop in nonparticipation (25% to 15%).

Something remains the same throughout, though: socket 754/Sempron remains dead in the water.

What happens if we cut the socket 754 Sempron price?

More On Sempron…

Scenario 4:

90mn Athlon64 Hammers start off at $500, and drop to about $170 by next July. By then, the cheapest socket 939 130nm Hammer is about $140; cheapest socket 754 is about $120. The cheapest socket 754 Sempron is $65.

Assume the same mobo costs and memory requirement as in scenario 1.

4) What do you buy over the course of the year?

a) 90nm Hammer: 73%
b) 130nm socket 939 Hammer: 7%
c) 130nm socket 754 Hammer: 0%
d) 130nm socket 754 Sempron: 5%
e) Nothing, or none of the above: 15%

Cutting the price of Sempron from $90 to $65 caused almost no change in the minds of the voters. This was a surprising, even shocking result given the cheapie reputation of AMD fans.

Sempron is simply DOA in the minds of those answering the poll. It just doesn’t offer enough to become a viable option for the typical enthusiast.

Unless . . .

Scenario 5:

Assume that socket 754 Semprons get x86-64 enabled at some point in time. Would that change any of your decisions (if you chose Sempron earlier on, say “No”)?

a) No: 71%.
b) Yes, it would make me buy a Sempron for $90 rather than a more expensive Hammer: 7%
c) Yes, it would make me buy a Sempron for $90 rather than buy nothing: 7%
d) Yes, it would make me buy a Sempron at $65 rather than a more expensive Hammer: 12%
e) Yes, it would make me buy a Sempron at $65 rather than nothing: 3%

Enabling x86-64 on Sempron socket 754 chips would shift most of the remaining nonparticipants onto the Hammer bandwagon. On the other hand, it would also shift a significant (though nowhere near as large as stereotypes would have you believe) number of people who would have otherwise bought a more expensive Hammer.

Overall, it’s hard to argue that enabling x86-64 in Semprons wouldn’t be a net negative for AMD’s bottom line for this audience.

However, Sempron’s real competition is against Celerons in the stores and shops of the world. If, in 2005, Celerons are sporting x86-64 and Semprons aren’t, that could be a far greater negative for AMD overall than some enthusiasts saving some money.

The most likely scenario for what will happen with Semprons and x86-64 will be the following:

  • Microsoft finally puts out a release date for x86-64.
  • Intel decides their x86-64 strategy; do they do it with some CPUs or all of them? If they decide the answer is “all” (and I’d say the odds on that are greater than 50%) . . .
  • AMD shortly thereafter enables x86-64 on Semprons.

    Conclusions: Shear the Sheap, Don’t Gouge Them

    What AMD needs to do for this audience is quite clear. Give the people what they want, and what they want are $170 90nm Hammers as soon as possible.

    Doing this will be a win-win situation. Most AMD fans will be happy enough with the price. AMD will get considerably more revenue (and profits) than they have previously from this group, or from any of the other higher-price scenarios. They’ll still keep their price parity with Intel strategy intact.

    Any other strategy stained by delusions of grandeur just isn’t going to work. Sempron is not going to fly in this group as a Jr. Hammer that people can upgrade once they can bring a big enough donation to the collection plate. They don’t want to settle for second-best (freaky chips in the FX/EE class excluded), period.

    They’ll pay more, but they know what they want, and if you don’t give it to them, they won’t pay more; they’ll settle for less, or won’t buy at all.

    90nm. $170 (more than twice AMD’s ASP at the moment).

    Is this too much to ask?

    Ed

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