May 25

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May 25, about eight weeks from now, is going to be an important symbolic date for overclockers.

This is the tentative date for the launching of socket 939: motherboards and processors.

It will be around then that we’ll find out whether or not we’re going to have anything new worth during and/or talking about in 2004, or whether we should all go to sleep until 2005.

One piece of (probably) good news leading up to this is confirmation that there is supposed to be a functional PCI/AGP lock in the upcoming nForce3-250 based motherboards.

I say and emphasize “supposed to be” because the article also says that there was supposed to be one for the nf3-150, too:

nVidia tells us, and we did confirm, that the PCI lock does work on the nVidia Reference Board for nF3-150, but they are also aware that it did not work in production nF3-150 motherboards. nVidia assures us that this BIOS programming issue is fixed in nF3-250.

It’s probably excessive paranoia, but better to be safe than sorry. When these boards come out, this will need to be double-checked, since this will be the key to significantly overclocking these processors.

What AMD Ought To Do

AMD ought to release a line of socket 939 Newcastles from 1.8GHz and up. This will generate a significant number of sales from folks like us and give socket 939 some momentum to push OEMs to adapting it, and most importantly, give us something to talk about and do. 🙂

What AMD Will Probably Do Instead

If what they did with socket 754 is any indication, AMD will start off with highly rated Newcastles at high prices, milk them for all they’re worth for a few months, then release lower-rated processors towards the last quarter of the year.

This will be foolish for at least this section of the market because AMD will end up with one CPU sale rather than two from a lot of people.

Most of us who are willing to buy a Newcastle sooner rather than later will probably figure that they’ll buy the system early, get some use out of it, and later buy a 90nm Hammer upgrade.

If AMD doesn’t make a reasonably affordable CPU available until the end of the year, odds are most will just wait until the 90nm becomes available and affordable.

The Prospects For the Rest of the Year

What the overclocking scene will look like the rest of the year turns on what AMD does price-wise with the socket 939 Newcastles.

If they offer a $175-200 Newcastle, that is where the action will be the rest of the year.

It won’t be a flood; we don’t expect the big move into Hammer by AMD fans until 2005 no matter what AMD does, but enough will buy to keep some busy, and the rest busy reading.

If AMD decides to price sky-high, what action there will be will occur in socket 754. There will be some action, but not as much as there would be for socket 939, and whatever there is likely to be really peeved when AMD pushes 939 to the forefront.

In the long run, socket 754 is going to be like Duron overclocking, a few will do it, but it won’t be the mainstream effort.

Intel? Prescott? For overclockers, they’re guilty until proven innocent, and interest will probably be dead in the water for the rest of the year and beyond.

Ed

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