Events of the Year

This one ended up as a tie on top, and a lot of events got votes.

The two events you voted for most were Intel screwing up and 3dfx going down.

Right behind it was Rambus’ stumbles.

I think the demise of 3dfx was a vivid reminder to many that today’s world is “Deliver or Die” and that nobody can sit on their
laurels for very long.

The other winner, Intel slipping, continues on that theme. While we certainly can’t call Intel terminal, what struck me the most is how rapidly this audience has shifted allegiance towards AMD.

Strike the word “allegiance.” That’s too strong a word nowadays. If Intel came up with a better product tomorrow, you’d shift right back. Which is as it should be, competition is good.

Looking towards 2001, from a purely technological point of view, the two big questions we see are: “Will Intel finally “get it”” and “Can AMD keep it up?”

I look at the roadmaps, and really wonder about the first. Upfront, the marketing people seem to be more interested in selling corporate Devo than processors. Behind the scenes, the finance people are worrying more about die size than making AMD die.

They don’t even seem to be aware there’s a company called AMD out there. If I’m Intel, I push a restored .13 micron Willamette as fast as I can and beat up AMD the second half of the year.

Give the Pentium Pro core a decent burial; don’t drag it out for one more swan song.

Not that AMD won’t have its troubles, too, early on. They’ve amazingly managed to morph through several generations of chipset design mostly unscathed, but now DDR is stumbling to the finish line before an increasingly sceptical audience bloated by cheap RAM.

While final adoption of DDR should stabilize the Athlon platform enough to eventually get some good mobos out of it, the latter part of the year appears to leave AMD vulnerable, even though Intel is doing its best to ignore that.

Going to be tough to get to 2Ghz at .18 micron with Palomino without the isotopically pure silicon cavalry coming through, and they’re having problems. Clawhammer and Company is an open question.

However, all this techie stuff is dwarfed by the mean recession monster that seems to be lurking just around the corner.

The dive in tech stocks didn’t get a lot of votes, but a year from now, we may well see it as the harbinger of bad times ahead.

Should that be the case, I don’t care how well Blue or Green or Polka Dot Men dance around; advanced expensive computers are going to be a tough sell to the mainstream.

Email Ed

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