Dribs and Drabs. . .

Intel Stalls

C1 Stepping Chips: On the retail level, lowest C1 stepping CPUs available (sometimes) so far are 2.4GHz. There is a report of Dell machines with C1 2.0GHz CPUs, but the report doesn’t have specifics.

What can I say? When they show up, they show up. AMD is still clearing out Palominos, so delays in these showing up aren’t too surprising.

If you’re impatient, wait until the Intel price cut takes hold next week, which will probably save you about $30, then start looking.

You probably want to save every dollar you can because:

Granite Bay Is Going To Be Expensive

This Inquirer article talks about Granite Bay mobos being twice as expensive as usual. While $300 is probably too high as U.S. price, something around $200 for a barebones GB, $250 with all the bells and whistles is probably likely.

The impression I get is that Intel wants to sell 845PEs for Christmas, and doesn’t want to bring dual channel to the masses until Springfield next, well, spring.

From a bang-for-the-buck perspective, it’s hard to justify an additional $100 for about a 7% performance improvement.

SiS will come out with a dual-channel DDR board before the end of the year, but I think that most people looking at GB are going to be leery about the stability of this board and just aren’t going to buy any mobo without an Intel chipset.

The next jump for Intel will be Prescott/Springfield, and we’re probably looking at the late summer/early fall for that combo to start clicking. Overclocking-wise, we’re looking at a bit for 4GHz for those systems.

So people need to decide whether they want to play at 3GHz for a while, wait for 4GHz quite a bit down the road, or (in the case of Socket A owners), just go for a CPU upgrade.

I suspect the winner of that contest among those reading this will be Door Number Three.

AMD Analyst Conference

The BS continues. Three hours of self-praise with little specific reason for it.

There’s a very easy way to tell when AMD is doing well or badly. When they’re doing well, you get a load of very specific detail about how and why they’re doing well. When they’re not, you don’t.

Those who listened heard a lot more detail about how flash was doing than CPUs.

From the few details we got, again, the facts don’t add up to the numbers. AMD said it was putting out 5,000 wafers a week. They said they expected their ASPs to go up. Provided yields were good, this would indicate a major bounceback in revenues for the fourth quarter.

But their projected numbers don’t indicate that.

Three weeks ago, they said that their inventory problems were over with. Three weeks later, they said that they were “90% fixed.” It’s almost half-way through the fourth quarter. If the inventory problem were truly fixed, we’d be seeing TBredAs at the lower speeds, not a handful of places offering the 1700+. Palominos still don’t look like an endangered species.

During October (which AMD described as a “good month”), essentially nothing about 2200+ was available. 2400+s are only now somewhat reasonably available, and from what I’m seeing in the forums, they aren’t blowing off the shelfs, and I suspect they won’t until the price drops considerably.

2600+ and 2700+s are supposed to become available the middle/end of November, but I can’t see people running for them in any great numbers given the projected prices, either.

If you heard the presentation, you’d never think AMD’s major business was making CPUs for desktop computers. They spoke a lot about flash, a lot about servers, quite a bit about wireless, and little about the desktop. Only about 10% of the discussion, if even that, was spent talking about current and near-future desktop chips.

Clawhammer continues to be a bad word among AMD execs. It’s still in the roadmap, but there was maybe one or two off-handed references to it over three hours. Barton was hardly mentioned, either.

The CFO made one revealing comment about the general state of affairs; he expected AMD’s cash reserves to drop almost $400 million between the operating loss and expenses associated with the fairly extensive layoffs planned.

Making a few educated guesses, and doing some speculative calculations, this points to AMD not making many more processors than the approximately four million they made last quarter (but getting somewhat more money from them, maybe around $80 average rather than $60)

That’s just not good.

An Informational Silver Lining

AMD is going to end up laying off a lot of people. Over the next few months, I fully expect a few of those laid-off people are going to talk to folks like us about what is actually going on in that company.

If a few are willing to talk to folks like us for free, imagine what Intel will hear after hiring a few of them. 🙂

Bottom Line

AMD must make and sell a lot of processors to stand any chance of making a profit. For whatever reason, they don’t seem able to do that this quarter, and they don’t think the “why” is anybody else’s business.

It’s quite possible they’re just getting their wings, and will be able to fly right for a whole quarter next quarter.

All these layoffs and song and dances may have kept the vultures away for this quarter, but if the CPU numbers don’t improve dramatically the first quarter of next year, no song and dance is going to help.


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