Are You A $700 Fan?

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What AMD Really Thinks

There is a rather remarkable set of commments in a Firing Squad interview about how at least one AMD exec views us. It’s not pretty.

“And as you know we now have a policy to lock down the frequency of all the products so there’s one product that will continue to be open and it’s the FX product line. The Athlon 64 FX will never be locked and it will continue to evolve for the people that buy those parts at the very high end of the market to get the most out of the experience in terms of overclocking.
. . . . What I’d rather do as a marketing strategy is we settle this creative energy on our platforms on one particular part that is designed from the ground up to be a very high end part which would allow people to go and play around with it and do all kinds of, you know performance boosting.”

Translation into English: We’re going to milk you overclockers any way we can. It’s going to cost you more. A lot more.

Before you talk about FSB overclocking, don’t worry, AMD plans on clipping your wings there, too. See below.

If you thought that settling all this creative energy on their most expensive part was nervy, then he really gets brazen:

“The problem with overclocking in general is that if you let it go uncontrolled you end up with people who are not gamers that are just, you know, greedy people . . .”

Excuse me? Overclocking a $50 processor and selling it like it were a $150 or $200 one is greedy, but charging $700 for the only overclockable ones isn’t? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. I guess greed is in the eye of the potential payee.

What if you’re a gamer doing the overclocking and cutting out the greedy middleman? This also stops them. Is it because they’re greedy, too?

I have to admit, it’s hard to remark the top of the line.

“. . . who are selling systems to uneducated users, overclocking them and you know it’s not properly cooled and that has a drastic effect on the life cycle of the product and then your brand gets affected because you’ve got someone who just bought a system and he didn’t understand at all what he was buying and ends up with problems so at the end of the day it’s the AMD name that gets tainted.”

Except when you pay AMD $700; then it’s admirable. 🙂

“You know I have a very open mind about this but on one hand its very important for us to protect our brand to make sure people like what they bought and so we need to be very strict in terms of keeping, you know unethical individuals who overclock and sell a product.”

OK, so when is AMD going to stop selling FXs and 64s to those hyperpremium companies who advertise overclocked FX systems? Oops, building a $600 overclocked system is bad, but building a $4000 one is good. Hmmm, seems like AMD finds overclocking bad, greedy and unethical until you pay AMD $700 to do it. Then it’s great.

I guess it’s not the overclocking itself that’s bad, greedy or unethical; it’s not paying AMD $700 to do so.

BTW, if this really were so important, then who at AMD is being punished for being so horribly negligent about this all these years? Why wasn’t it important enough to do in 2002, or 2001, or 2000? When Intel locked multipliers in 1998, why didn’t AMD do likewise? There certainly were plenty of remarked machines sold during the Athlon days.

“. . . That’s not right. But on the other side of the spectrum it’s great to have a bunch of enthusiasts out there that really love AMD, love the brand and want to get the best out of it. You know that’s okay for them to have a part that they can go and play around with.”

Do you see yourself here?

Here’s how I would define most of AMD fandom: A bunch of enthusists who really love AMD’s prices, and want to get the best out of their products.

How many of you AMD fans out there pretty much agree with that? Raise your hands. OK, lots of hands, most of the room.

Now here’s how AMD defines AMD fandom: A bunch of enthusiasts who really love AMD, love the brand and want to get the best out of it so much, they’ll pay $700 for a CPU to do so.

Those of you with your hands up, do you agree with that, too?

Whoosh.

Just got blown back from the wind that came from all those hands going down.

Why, you mutinous, disloyal scum. You aren’t real AMD fans, at least not according to AMD. You’re just greedy.

Seriously, folks, if AMD expects the average AMD-inclined overclocker to lay out $700 (or even $400) just so they can change multipliers, that’s a level of fantasy on par with Britney coming over to my house tomorrow and asking me, “Will you pull down my zipper, please?”

Wait A Minute, Ed, There’s Still FSB Overclocking!

When AMD goes to a 250MHz FSB in a few months, just how much room do you think you’re going to have left? There will be some, but not a whole lot.

The socket 939 Newcastles look potentially good, but somehow I don’t think they’re going to qualify for Holy Grail “FX” status. Combine a locked multiplier with a 250MHz, and you’re not talking about much overclocking, maybe 10-20% theoretically possible.

Does It Bother You?…

Does It Bother You?

It seems to me, verbiage aside, AMD is telling you, “We got you by the generative organs, and we’re going to squeeze. You’re hooked, and we’re going to reel you in.”

It seems to me AMD is clueless as to why you AMD fans are AMD fans. They seem to have you confused with Macsters.

Understand that it’s not locking multipliers, it’s not leaving less FSB headroom, but it’s the combo of the two plus decidedly higher prices than in the AthlonXP generation that will put the squeeze on overclocking their processors.

The third is the biggest factor of all. I suspect the average person reading this wouldn’t much care if a $50 or $90 processor weren’t that overclockable. A $200 CPU is probably a different matter.

So what do you do?

Now AMD has the perfect right to do all this, but the people reading this have just as much a perfect right not to buy it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy it; I’m just predicting based on everything I know about this audience that it’s not going to be too willing to buy it.

You won’t make that determination now, simply because you (and I) don’t have the hard facts and prices in yet. Only at that point will you (and I) do the little calculations in our heads to figure out whether to buy or not.

However, it has to be noted that should all three of these factors come together in a few months, that is going to significantly change the buying calculations of many in this audience, and the answer they come up with may not equal “AMD.”

Personally, I think we’re going to see socket 939 Newcastle systems that will cost roughly as much as current Intel Northwood systems, and O/C about 15%-20%. If that’s the case, I suspect the response from this audience will be a bit underwhelming.

Most AMD fans like AMD because their processors cost less, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re more flexible for overclockers. What happens if AMD processors no longer cost less, and are less flexible for overclocking than Intel’s?

Perhaps AMD thinks people will run like lemmings to x86-64, but if Intel announces that Tejas or even Prescott will have some form of x86-64 support, maybe even the lemmings will sun themselves on the cliff and chill for a bit.

It’s not that I’m whining about this because overclockers are somehow entitled to it. I do have to wonder, though, if these changes and higher pricing will end up

No doubt I’ll get AMDroids who’ll tell me how wonderful and smart AMD is for doing this.

(BTW, just to clear this point up, it is questions like these that separate AMDroids from AMD fans. Most AMD fans are not AMDroids. You’re an AMDroid only if you can’t criticize AMD no matter what they do.)

I don’t know how smart AMD is slicing off huge chunks of the reasons why a big chunk of their user base have supported them before they know they have better replacements for them. I realize it’s hasn’t been a very lucrative part of their user base, and AMD needs to move somewhat upmarket, but a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

If AMD can find new fans willing to pay more to replace the old ones, fine. I’m not sure they can, and it is unwise to toss away the scrawny bird you do have before you catch the plumper ones.

At the least, though, AMD could spare us the fairy tales about why they’re doing what they’re doing. That’s just disrepecting us.

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