Can You Figure Out The Secret Code?

AMD has gone to a bizarre naming scheme for its Opteron processors.

The good news is this isn’t going to be used for Athlon64 processors, at least not yet. The bad news is they might come up with something even worse.

Opterons will not be named by frequency, or by PR. No, no, no.

Instead, you’ll have to figure out the secret code to find out just what it is you’re getting.

The code will consist of three digits. The first digit indicates whether the CPU is meant for solo, dual, or eight-CPU action. This part is OK.

The second digit is supposed to somehow indicate major differences in performance, sort of like the “3” in 3.2GHz or 3200+, but not really.

All we know at the moment is that whatever it stands for, the lowest number an Opteron can have is “4.”

Does that mean 4Ghz, or 4000+? Silly you. We know Opterons will start at 1.4GHz, and probably would have a PR rating of 2?00+. Does “4” mean “1” as in GHz? Does “4” mean “2” as in PR? Does it mean something else? Nobody knows.

The third digit is supposed to somehow indicate minor differences in performance, sort of like the “2” in 3.2GHz or 3200+. but not really. We don’t know what the hell it stands for, either. All we know is that a higher third digit is better than a lower third digit; “144” is better than “142.” How much better, by what criteria? Who knows?

To add insult to injury, the AMD press release said that potential users liked the system’s “clarity.”

Yeah, right.

The press release says in part, “The AMD Opteron processor model number strategy extends AMD’s efforts to change end users’ focus from frequency to application performance.”

It does nothing of the sort. PR did that. This doesn’t tell you anything about application performance, either.

We’ve generally been sympathetic to the use of PR, but this is crap. Why can’t a potential buyer at a glance be able to get a rough idea of how much performance they can expect from their purchase, and be able to easily compare it to other processors or even processors in the same line?

If you don’t want to use GHz, fine. Use a PR scale. But don’t come up with the Dewey Decimal System for CPUs, and then hide the key.

Even if some sort of conversion scale comes out (and who knows if even that is possible or what criteria AMD might use), why do potential buyers have to jump through hoops just to figure out how much performance they are getting for their money?

The Opteron does present a bit of a challenge to rank. Just to cite one issue, do you rank it in 32-bit or 64-bit mode?

Nonetheless, it’s hard to see how buyers are going to be comfortable with a naming system that evades comparisons and essentially has AMD say to buyers, “Trust me.”

It’s hard to see how many buyers aren’t going to come to the conclusion that AMD is trying to hide something by doing this.

Let’s say I’m shopping for some floor cleanser. I can see a big bottle of one type, and it says “one gallon.” OK, I know what I’m getting. That’s the Intel approach.

I can see a smaller bottle that says “concentrate, makes a gallon.” That’s the AMD PR approach, and that’s OK, too.

This naming approach is like finding a bottle of cleanser that just says “142,” with no clue on the bottle as to what “142” means, except that the “144” bottle next to it is a little bigger. The only way to find out what “142” means is to get the Consumers Report issue on cleansers and see what they found out.

This is consumer-oriented marketing?


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