Deer Caught In The Headlights

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Hooked On A Feeling

It’s tough being the designated driver at a computer convention. OK, it’s a lot easier when you’re eleven thousand miles away. 🙂

I’m not talking about drug-induced euphoria; I’m talking about mug-induced euphoria. Companies spend tons of money crafting schemes to overrule the sober judgment and flat-out
common sense of those they are trying to persuade, then send legions of mugs out to convert those who should be skeptical.

Go to a Mac convention one day. You’ll see otherwise sane and rational people transformed in an hour into blithering idiots spouting certifiable nonsense like “Macs are three times faster than PCs.” It is a terrible thing to watch.

People are hooked on being happy; they’re hooked on being euphoric. Given the alternative, it’s understandable, but that doesn’t make it good.

This is why companies can toss out vaporware again, and again, and again, and most people fall for it again and again and again. They like the rush of euphoria, but forget the crashes of later disappointment.

I think we in general are in great danger of that happening with the nForce. (Not us particularly, Joe is not exactly revved up about this, either.)

Somewhere Between Vapor and Rock

We’re not going to regurgitate nVidia press releases.

The problem with these sorts of pieces is that it essentially freezes people from buying other things, and puts them
in the position of Waiting for nVidia. Even when the websites try to make a politely skeptical point here and there, the audience
sees the buzzwords and often overlook the disclaimers.

I don’t know what companies do to give the press amnesia at these times, but nVidia
has a track record of sometimes not meeting performance and/or time deadlines in their core business. Since we’re still going through Waiting for Palomino and Waiting
for Via; it might be a good idea to remember that if your eyes glaze over in the nVidia spotlights.

Sure, it all sounds wonderful. But let’s get out of the fantasy factory and see what we have today.

  • The mobo manufacturers just started work on this from ground zero five weeks ago, with a company that has never built a mobo chipset before in its life..

  • Performance and stability, both for the mobo and the chipset, need a lot more work. Ergo, all these promises are not based on what the chipset can do today, but
    what it is supposed to do someday. “Supposed to” can change very easily.

  • Most of these boards (Asus being the exception so far) are initially planned as microATX boards, with 3 PCI slots.
  • The price is contemplated as a little less than $200.

    That should slow down the stampede a little. 🙂

    Do you know what I would find a lot more convincing than these dog-and-pony shows?

    I’d like to hear some mobo manufacturers say, “This nVidia stuff is so good that we’ve stopped work on other chipsets and are putting all our technical resources into it.”

    When you hear that, then maybe you can party.

    Another item to contemplate:

    The initial target date for beginning mass production is late August. nVidia has little room for slippage if it expects to be selling Christmas boxes.

    Actually, no matter what, nVidia already has a box for Christmas sales, the XBox.

    If Microsoft is contemplating holding Windows XP off until 2002 if it can’t get out the door by late August (to avoid fratricide with the XBox), might there be a similiar fate for Crush?

    Not saying it’s going to happen, just don’t be surprised if it does happen. Don’t be surprised, either, if some of the performance promises made now get forgotten in the next few months.

    As always, look like a hawk for the weasel words, “up to.”

    Made famous by Apple, “up to” means, “under circumstances that will only be experienced four times by man: once by pure accident, and the other three times by the PR guys desperately looking for it.”

    Nor should it come as a shock to you to see at least some of the technologies nVidia is talking about pop up elsewhere. HyperTransport, for instance.

    Do We All Drop Dead For Three, or Four, or Eight Months?

    Computer business has been poor. DDR sales have been particularly poor. There’s been some pretty good reasons for that.

    The one I’ll talk about now is uncertainty. People don’t want to buy something today and get blind-sided tomorrow.

    What do you think nVidia’s announcement is going to do to mobo sales? They don’t care; they have no mobo business to lose. Can’t say I feel sorry for Via, but I hope this doesn’t kill off a lot of good little computer resellers as a result, only to find the final result to be not quite what’s being claimed today.

    When promises rarely get met; we stop believing anybody. We get euphoric extravagant claims made among the glittering lights, and stone silence in the cold light of day when it’s time to put up.

    So we have a company that’s never made anything like this in its life that’s going to leapfrog everybody else technology and the first product of its type is going to be wonderfully finished and completed
    in less than three months.

    One of the more touching quotes in one of nVidia pieces was “NVIDIA has been quite helpful in the design process and fully intends to have the boards be rock solid at the launch.”

    What did you expect them to say? “nVidia has done everything possible to stop us from making their product, and wants it to be as buggy as possible?”

    Of course the engineers want a good product to go out the door, but it’s the executives and marketeers who make that call.

    I don’t believe it. Show me. You want to be Pied Piper, show me the cheese first.

    I think we’re going to see one of two things:

  • This board will get out the door more or less on time, but it’s going to be minus a few of the further-out features, won’t perform as well as promised, and it’s going to be pretty buggy or
  • We don’t see this until 2002.

    Come to think of it, if it turns out to be the first, given nVidia’s history with gaming, these bugs could be marketed as a Christmas game.

    I can see it now:

    Free with all nForce systems: “BugKiller” The most important and most intense interactive adventure game you’ll ever play. Call or write us for sporadic clues that may or may not help. Go on a thrilling worldwide search across the Web along with millions of others to find answers. Unlike other games, we made it, and we don’t even know how to win. Can you? If you can, could you please tell us?”

    This could catch on. Think I should copyright it? 🙂

    What To Do Now

    If you need to buy soon, and you’re really hurting now, forget nVidia and go with an AMD 761 board. I’ll talk about this more within the next couple, but I wouldn’t go with the K7Master. Not because
    there’s something wrong with it, but it looks like the Epox 8KTA+ looks to be a bit better buy overall for overclockers now, and the Abit KG7 due to arrive shortly might beat that.

    If you’re waiting for Palomino anyway, certainly won’t do any harm to view the horizon come early fall and see what’s out there. If nVidia shows up in October, and it’s half as wonderful as what we’re hearing today, fine, if it doesn’t, you pick whatever is out there.

    Don’t forget Intel, either. A .13 micron Willy with a Via (or maybe even Intel) DDR board or even RDRAM may turn out to be the most powerful machine out there (though cost is a huge if).

    Aren’t You Being Overly Negative?

    The hardest but most necessary time to be negative is when everyone else is swept up and has forgotten even the possibility of it.

    I’m not saying they can’t do it; I’m just skeptical that everything will be wonderful and tremendous and glorious and on time. I’ve heard lots of wonderful and tremendous and glorious claims over the years, but seen pretty few wonderful and tremendous and glorious results.

    I’ve seen a good number of good ones, though.

    There’s one great advantage of not getting sky-high about these things. You don’t crash-and-burn later on. I don’t get the high, but I don’t get the low, either.

    So we’ll see what comes out, or doesn’t, and take it all in good stride.

    Email Ed

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