Hector and Hillary

Intel provided more details about the Nehalem-generation of processors and a few about its successor, Sandy Bridge, but that’s probably old news to you.

You may not know about this estimate of Nehalem performance: 20-30% faster than a Penryn clock-for-clock.

Let’s be conservative and take the 20% figure. Since AMD got a 20% boost when they put an integrated memory controller into Hammer, assuming a 20% boost when Intel does the same thing plus some tweaks is hardly outlandish or unreasonable.

A 20% clock-for-clock boost will certainly keep Intel with the upper hand over any first-generation 45nm AMD processor. In all likelihood, the Intel lead will probably stay around where it is today.

Frankly, AMD seems to have put anything that might get them competitive against Intel into the deep freezer. We hear nothing about new designs like Bulldozer; Fusion has been scaled back, and AMD is going with the “cheap” 45nm process technology.

All this will certainly mean Intel will be able to charge everyone who wants the best performance more in the foreseeable future. For high performance CPU products, AMD no longer exists, and even if you’re grossly optimistic, won’t for at least the next eighteen months.

That’s very annoying, but you’re a company that’s not too sure it’s going to continue existing at all, you can’t be all things to all people.

If AMD could stabilize itself by making medium- to low-end products for a while, that would be one thing. After all, AMD spent most of its existence scraping along doing just that.

However, the current AMD has something the old AMD never had, over five billion dollars in debt. This means AMD needs to somehow make rather more money with second-rate products than it used to.

Unfortunately, AMD’s prospects appear to be the opposite of that. From above, Intel will beat AMD on performance and push its pricing to the bargain basement.

To make matters worse, with Atom, Intel has effectively dug under the bargain basement and can attack AMD from the subbasement with inferior but very cheap CPUs.

It won’t be easy being Green.

Hector and Hillary

You may not have noticed, but Mr. Ruiz at AMD and Ms. Clinton in the U.S. Democratic presidential primaries have a lot in common these days.

Both are decided underdogs with no clear path to winning, indeed, many say of both that it is too late for either to win. Both are limited in their ability to attack the front-runner.

And despite their vastly different venues, both have adopted the same strategy: Hang in there no matter what and put up a bold front, while hoping hard that the front-runner somehow screws up and/or gets screwed up a lot due to forces largely out of their control.

Barack may talk a lot about the “audacity of hope,” but the Ruiz and Clinton camps are where it’s become a way of life these days. 🙂

Hector has to hope that various government commissions and the U.S. court system will punish and/or competitively shackle Intel. Hillary has to hope that the media will find a ton of mud to drag Obama through.

Success in both cases is a longshot, but neither has anything better to do.


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