Bits and Pieces

Tech droughts, stock scandals and HP/Compaq comments. – Ed

The Tech Drought

As we’ve said a number of times, not much going on, and if you walked away until next January, you wouldn’t miss too much.

We don’t see any point in reviewing end-of-generation or transitional products. No overclocker with any sense is going to buy a Palomino XP2200, so why look at it.

We haven’t looked at KT333 boards simply because it really should have called the KT266B board. I’m sorry, but I can’t get excited over a 2% performance increase or changes Via probably should have included in the 266A.

The KT400 probably won’t be much better, but at least it will have 8X AGP and faster VLink. If you’re going to buy a mobo, and need it to last longer than cheese, that looks like a much better buy for the long-term (provided it works, of course).

This looks like a June product to us.

So does Thoroughbred, though I suspect the first ones aren’t going to blow the doors off anything. It’s usually the second or third iteration of AMD chips that prove to be the prime overclockers.

Of course, if a Thoroughbred 1800+ comes out for $100, some people will have some fun with that, but just like the LSNs, that’s the result of a low rated speed, not a high-performance chip.

By late summer, early fall, I expect to see people getting close to or reaching 2.5GHz (real) with these chips; I just don’t expect the first batches will do it.

We’ll hear some hullabaloo about the 133Mhz PIVs shortly, though I don’t know why. This is the equivalent of the old EB chip, and the slowest speed I’ve seen for one of them so far is 2.26GHz.

There will be those who’ll say the world is different now, and that the PIV needs every bit of memory bandwidth it can get while running at very high speeds. I don’t disagree with that; what I disagree with is the solution to the problem.

If you want to give your PIV lots memory bandwidth, wait until dual-channel DDR boards become available. That will give the little beastie a whole lot more bandwidth than any possible single channel solution.

Of course, that might reduce sales a bit during the spring and summer. 🙂

The only other area of interest in the near future looks to be the Ti4200 cards. This will be a matter of “find the best memory” from the various vendors. In all likelihood, it will be a couple months after introduction before vendors start sticking faster RAM into these cards.

Memory? We have some doubts as to how well so-called DDR400 modules will work. We don’t think we’ll see them very available for a while.

Stock Scandal

Essentially, Merrill Lynch has been accused of promoting stocks even their own internal documents literally called POSs in the hopes of getting additional business from those POSs.

Why should you care? This will probably have more long-term impact on the tech sector than anything else. Far more than copy protection, for instance.

A while back, I spent more than a little bit of time looking at tech stocks. Much to my amazement, after more than a little poking and probing around, I was greatly perturbed by what I didn’t find: a bad one. I literally never found a stock where the consensus was: Don’t buy it.

This was just about as realistic and believable as Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.”

Worse, when I looked at analysis on stocks like Intel and AMD; I was beginning to think my Internet link had somehow been routed into some not-so-parallel universe, because what I was reading sure didn’t bear much resemblance to what I knew.

So I don’t think Merrill Lynch is going to be exactly alone as this scandal develops.

Why is this important? You can’t innovate if you don’t have money.

Even without any scandal, the tech sector is going to be besmirched for a long time, and it will be harder for even relative giants to get the money they need. For instance, if things were honky-dory in the tech sector, I doubt AMD would be doing halfies on that new fab with UMC. I don’t think even Intel would want to raise a bunch of money on Wall Street today.

If even Intel and AMD at least feel the chill, what happens when you’re a startup?

If investors find out their investment “consultants” were essentially no better than some kid with a website “reviewing” products with an eye on staying on the gravy train, just how willing do you think they’re going to be to listen to their recommendations about tech stocks they’ve never heard of nor comprehend?

No new money, no new products. Sometimes the biggest news isn’t what happens, but what doesn’t.

Carly and Walter Are Not In Love

Carly (Fiorina) announced her love for Michael C(apellas of Compaq) a while back. Walter (Hewlett) basically called Carly a slut whose urge to merge was just a way to duck dealing with what he sees is her real problem. That’s letting Daddy’s firm slowly go limp.

They’ve been fighting a lot. They’re going to fight more in court. Carly says, “Size matters.” Walter says, “Gluing two limp ones together doesn’t make you a stud. Michael D(ell) has a big one, he knows how to use it, and his keeps growing. Besides, there’s no money in male prostitution anyway. Concentrate on the more profitable pleasures we at least used to be good at.”

I don’t know what’s going to happen in court. I don’t think it much matters. Flaccid + Flaccid doesn’t make Firm. If this were two healthy companies, this merger would make a lot more sense, but they’re not.

I think Carly fell in love with the wrong Michael.

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