Dual Cores: Inquiring Minds Want To Know

If you buy something now, will it work with dual-core processors later? Inquiring minds want to know.

We have an answer from the Intel side ((from here):

We did get confirmation that the dual core CPUs would not work on existing 925X and 915 based motherboards, not without changes to their design.

So if you’re true blue, and you want to pop in a dual core system CPU, you’ll just have to wait.

This may not be a likeable answer, it may be disappointing to some, and very disappointing to those relative few with these boards, but it’s a good answer because people now know what the story is.

Contrast this to the AMD side. We know there will be dual-core Opterons, which appear compatible with current socket 940 systems. We know there will be dual-core socket 939 systems, in fact, we now even know the starting price of one: about $700

What we don’t know, for sure, is whether or not today’s socket 939 board will work with tomorrow’s dual-core 939s.

There are three possibilities:

1) They certainly will: If that’s the case, then AMD should say so! That will make knowledgeable customers confident in buying the product sooner rather than later. If they don’t, knowledgeable customers won’t buy until they do.

2) They certainly won’t If that’s the case, then AMD should say so! If they do, knowledgeable customers will either decide to wait or go without. If they don’t, knowledgable customers will again wait until they do.

3) They don’t know yet If that’s the case (and there’s possible good reasons for that, perhaps AMD hasn’t figured out when or even if DDR2 comes into the picture), then AMD should say so! Again, knowledgable customers will wait if they do, wait if they don’t.

Ha! Ha! Fooled You!

Notice that we’ve only spoken about knowledgable customers so far. What about less knowledgable folks, people who might think, naive as it may seem, that if a chip says socket 939, it ought to work in any socket 939 board?

Go back to the three possibilities, and you’ll see that ignorance is not bliss.

If scenario 1 is the case, no harm done.

If scenario 2 is the case, there’s definitely harm done, but if AMD says something, the only person that person can blame is himself. That doesn’t mean some won’t blame AMD anyway, but it will at least reduce the number that do. If they don’t, then that person is going to blame AMD, which greatly reduces the chances of that person becoming a repeat customer.

If scenario 3 is the case, whether there’s harm done or not depends on the final result, in which case either scenario 1 or 2 applies.

Combine the two together, and you’ll see that saying so is better than not saying so. In scenario 1, AMD will get more sales faster from knowledgable customers. In scenario 2, AMD may get some more sales from less knowledgable customers, but risks alienating many or most of them when the truth comes out.

Now there are many companies who would rather take the money and run, who act in accordance with “Buyer beware.” There’s also a name for companies like that: sleazy.

Really, if you had to choose between two companies, and one company told you upfront what to expect, and the other company kept quiet, let you make assumptions, and told you, “Well, we never said it would work,” which company would you rather do future business with? The upfront one, or the one that stayed quiet and took your money while you bought the wrong thing?

To Would-Be Defenders

Amazingly, when I write articles like this suggesting that AMD ought to be more truly customer-centric than it is, there are AMDroids who write me saying one of three things:

The first class will say, “AMD has to keep this quiet for competitive advantage against Intel.” To them I say, “What competitive advantage? Intel knows socket 940 will be a drop-in. It’s already said current 915/925 boards won’t work with their dual-cores. The only competitive advantage AMD gets is selling some extra CPUs to the unwary. That’s not screwing Intel, that’s screwing their own customers.”

The second class will say, “DOH, you dope! Of course it will work.” To them I say, “Since you’re so sure, how many systems are you willing to replace free of charge to those believing you should that not prove to be the case?”

Believe or not, there’s an even more extreme third class of AMDroids. They say in essence, “If it makes them more money, AMD should screw customers.” To them I say, “Remind me never to do business with you, ever.”

This time around, if you belong to the second or third group, I’m going to reply by asking you if I can reprint any of your relevant comments with your email address. If you’re brave enough to say it to me, you ought to be brave enough to say to all for their comments, too.

If you decline or vapor, I’ll likely print the email anyway, and use instead a substitute email address I just set up: [email protected], so people can comment, anyway.


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