As you say AMD, is in a world of woe at the moment. As an AMD user I can suggest why. Any sales of the current AM2 lineup has got to come from one of four groups:
- Intel users: Now why would you swap platforms to a slower platform, especially if you have a current socket 775 Mobo that is running all the new Intel gear. Simple – you wouldn’t! If you were in the market for an upgrade, you’d just buy a faster CPU.
- Current AM2 Users: Socket AM2 has been in the channel for about 12 months, give or take. These are relatively new systems and their owners either are not looking at upgrading or are comfortable to wait a couple of months and see what K10 brings – it will either bring better performance and be the better bang for the buck, or it will bring even lower AM2 prices that they can get as the model line runs out.
- Older system users: We’re talking pre Socket 939 / Pre Socket 775. All things being equal, these people would look at the bang for the buck and pick up a new board and a new Intel CPU to go with it. Even if they felt sorry for AMD, the reality is a new socket is just around the corner – anything bought now is going to be legacy and not supported in terms of CPUs in just a couple of months.
- Socket 939 Users: These (and I fall into this group) are the once loyal AMD fans. Where Socket A ran for years, some of us are left with expensive SLI deluxe motherboards that were orphaned by the switch to AM2. Are we likely to trust AMD again, in the next couple of months, to end up on an orphaned AM2 board? Not likely!
So… considering these points, AMD is essentially without options unless they can bring out K10 earlier, which is about where you put them.
But there is one way that they could survive the next couple of months using technology they have now that would be very attractive to end users at a fair price – not fire sale, nor silly bleeding edge pricing.
What do they need to do to save the company?
Take the DDR memory controller and graft it back onto the 65nm CPU’s and use it to pump out some Socket 939 5000+ and 6000+ CPU’s at a reasonable price. They already have the DDR controller technology and they already know how to connect it to the current architecture – which hasn’t really changed from 939 anyway.
Why do it? Those millions of Socket 939 loyal fans would love them (buys loyalty), helps to keep a customer base. If I had the choice between a new board + new CPU + RAM or a new CPU that brings me back up with current speeds, I’d buy the new CPU and maybe put the money I was going to spend on the rest to a new video card that AMD will want me to buy when they ship the X2K series.
The 939 boards out there have aging CPUs in them that are all pretty much >12 months old, so the users are edgy; but faced with going to AM2 and getting burnt again or waiting for K10, we’ll wait – or go Intel. A new CPU in the current board – especially if it looked like a limited proposition – would move some CPU’s for a couple of months to keep them in the game.
Now extend the Fusion/Torrenza concepts and add a selectable memory controller so that a K10 / Quad Core 939 chip is a reasonably easy to make option, and AMD could bounce back…. But will they?