Blowing Off Santa

I’ve decided to cancel Christmas for myself.

It’s not a matter of not having the money, but rather not wanting to spend it on what will be available before December 25.

It’s not that the AMD systems you can put together today aren’t OK, and at least the single CPUs are priced right, but the prices I’d end up paying for what will be a trailing edge system within a year don’t give me that “bang-for-the-buck” feeling.

For instance, I don’t have any problem with a 7800GT, except for the price. I don’t expect to pay $100 for it, but $350-400 is a bit too much.

I look at dual cores, and the AMD dual-cores are a bit too much for me to lay out given that socket M2 is around the corner, and the Intel chips are too hot and not good enough.

I look at memory, and do I really want to buy 2Gb of DDR when DDR2 is the wave of the future and costs no more than DDR?

Yes, I know, I’ve stalled and stalled and stalled, but it’s been a multiphased stall.

At first, it was a matter of a bang-for-the-buck guy finding neither bang nor buck out of the new equipment. Now, while the equipment doesn’t quite bang, it at least pops, and while the buck part is hardly compelling, at least it’s no longer ludicrous.

However, going from bad to becoming barely acceptable doesn’t do a whole lot for the desire and enthusiasm. Little reasons/excuses start looking awfully big when the equipment doesn’t sing a compelling song.

And frankly, outside of the video, today’s technology is barely better enough than, say, a late-model Northwood to justify a replacement.

What I’m Going To Do

I’m going to end up with two systems next year.

The first will be Intel’s 65nm/975X early next year. True, it won’t be a lot better than what’s available from AMD today, might not even be quite as good. But at least it will be new, the dually will be cheaper, and hopefully, so will the video card. As an added bonus, the 975X will support Intel’s second-generation 65nm processors, so that’s killing two birds with one stone.

The second will be AMD’s socket M2. Don’t expect any miracles from that, either, but if AMD expects a 3GHz FX out, that sounds like they’ve got one performance tweak left in 90nm. It ought to be a little better than what’s available today, and at least I’ll be able to see which is really better, and I can use the same video and RAM for both systems.


I’m not saying this path is for everybody, and I realize I’ve been Mr. Curb Your Enthusiasm for quite some time.

Obviously, those who are relatively new to this scene have a different perspective, and certainly more excitement than I can muster up.

I think I have the perspective of someone who has been around the block a few times, and because of that, sees that what we have today really isn’t a whole lot better than what we had in, say, 2002.

Yes, AMD has advanced with Hammer, but progress there has been like putting a lobster in a pot of cold water, and turning on the heat. At least for me, there’s been no shock that tells me, “Your current system is cooked, buy something new now,” nothing like tossing a lobster into a pot of boiling water.

Instead, you get lulled into a very, very long sleep.

I know a lot of people won’t agree with this, but I know a lot of people, especially those who have been around a while, do, especially those without a lot of toss-away money.

It’s very easy to be enthusiastic and tell people to buy when new equipment doesn’t cost you anything, or when you’re young, single, and have money to burn. You get a lot more careful when it’s your money, and if I don’t think it’s worth it, how can I tell you otherwise?

When might the lull end and we get a nice good jolt? The second-generation of Intel 65nm processors might be somewhat more thrilling than the first, but I think we’re going to have to wait for 45nm and Intel’s revamped manufacturing processes (AMD isn’t talking, so I can’t) to see a jump like that we used to see regularly three, four or more years back.


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