Hold Em High

You can see Intel pricing through Memorial Day over here.

Looks like Intel plans to drop prices just enough in the right spots and times to keep AMD from making a whole lot from its best processors.

The price of the 2.0A will drift down to $280 in April, then go to $200 at the end of May.

The price of the 2.2 will stay high for almost the next three months, then do a two-step clunk in May to about $240 by Memorial Day.

Pricing of the LSNs will hardly move, by the end of May, maybe a $30 drop. Purely from a price standpoint, there’s no good reason to wait if you’re hurting for a new machine now, and it has to be a PIV.

Performance is a different story. I’ll explain more later today, but while I have the 1.8GHz Northwood I just bought running stably at 2.4GHz; it took a little doing, and I think I’m pretty close to the edge with this particular chip.

More importantly, it’s not doing any better than a reasonably decent XP setup overall.

Well, When Will They Get Better (aka When Can I Get 3GHz)?

The Inquirer just put up a 2002 Intel roadmap, and if I had to read tea leaves, I’d say later rather than sooner.

Current Northwoods use a B0 stepping. That’s a little raw even for a first release from Intel, usually it will be a B1 or 2 stepping. It may be worthy to note that Willamettes didn’t overclock terribly well until the D stepping.

Intel doesn’t plan to get much faster until the fall. The end of the third quarter will only see 2.53GHz CPUs. Then the fastest Intel chip will jump to 2.8GHz by the end of the year, then to over 3GHz shortly thereafter.

This plan seems to fit AMD’s roadmap awfully well; take it easy until first Barton, then Clawhammer shows up.

Is Intel sandbagging? If you put a gun to my head, my guess is “No.” The impression I’m getting is that Intel is having some problems getting the manufacturing process down as well as they would like. Overclocking performance seems more erratic than usual. If I had to bet, my bet would be the next CPU stepping will be meant more to get the manufacturing process down pat, then worry about tweaking for more speed. Over the next six months, they don’t need faster processors, they need more of them.

Intel announces new steppings ahead of time. These and other announcements are called Product Change Notifications, and you can find a list of them here (even register to have Intel email you when new ones come out).

I would guess we’ll see a PCN for a C stepping in about a month or so, and actually see the processors in late spring. A D stepping might be announced in June, with product coming out late summer.

What About AMD and Thoroughbred?

You have to wonder a bit about a CPU that debuts in April, and its replacement (Barton) shows up less than six months later. Again, if you put a gun to my head, I would bet that Thoroughbred isn’t going to be all that great shakes, either. Better, of course. A bit better than the Intel equivalent? That’s beginning to look likely, at least for a while.

As we said around New Year’s, it’s going to be nip-and-tuck all year, and slow advancing for at least the first part of it.

In the meantime, looks like Intel plans to sit pat and make money, and from what can be gleaned from AMD statements, they’ll be happy to follow right along.

Email Ed

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