May Day

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AMD is slipping the word out that it will not go to DDR2 until sometime in 2006. The latest, most definitive indicator comes from Digitimes, which indicates a shift over to DDR2 in 1Q 2006. They also made it clear that DDR2 support is going to require a new socket (most likely these “S1” and “M2” sockets the Inquirer has mentioned in its various roadmap articles).

Just to get this out of the way, the Digitimes article indicates that the first DDR2 capable parts will be done in 90nm rather than 65nm. We don’t expect to see 65nm CPU from AMD until sometime later in 2006, and probably not a ton of them until late 2006. This will be after Intel plans to introduce 65nm, though their schedule appears to have slipped a quarter, from the end of 2005 to early 2006.

What do we think of that news? Good!

AMD probably doesn’t think DDR2 will do squat for them until 2006, and they’re probably right. Nine months from now, maybe they lose a few percent real-life performance not using it, but they can easily afford that.

Memory fetishists will freak, of course, but they can always buy Intel systems and run memory benchmarks all day long (and maybe, finally, realize that memory speed and bandwidth is a very small slice of the performance pie).

Judgment Day Approaches

Due to recent announcements, we now know that socket 939 will support at least the initial dual cores. We now know not to hold our breath for DDR2. PCI Express boards and advanced video cards are now either popping up, or will within the next sixty days. We know that sooner or later, we’ll see strained-silicon 90nm chips, which ought to improve Hammer overclockability a couple hundred MHz or more.

We’re getting near put up or shut up time, folks, at least on the higher-end.

The decision many of you will have to make is “Do I buy socket 939 in the next few months, or do I wait another year after that?”

On The Lower End

The picture is now clearer for those who just are not going to pay a lot for Hammer.

The Inquirer says the due date for x86-64 Windows is April 29. Outside of a couple last-minute minor delays, that’s probably right.

The article also confirms that Intel will come out with x86-64 Celerons around that time. As we said quite a few times in the past, x86-64 Celerons make x86-64 Semprons (socket 754 only, of course) inevitable

Something tells me that these new Hammer stepping with strained silicon will make an appearance around that time, too. By that time, we’ll know if there’s going to be 90nm “real” socket 754 Athlon 64s or not.

Wait, Then Hurry Up

In other words, our world will remain in drought until May, then comes the flood.

In other words, if you have any urges to upgrade, and you want the optimal time to do so, that should start in May. This is especially so if you want a socket A cheap-like upgrade.

Dual-cores? Well, you can always wait more, but we suspect dual-cores aren’t going to be worth it until the software people get off their duff, and if the past is any indicator of the future; it will take something like 18 months after product introduction for this to be worth it, which points to the beginning of 2007.

By then, we’ll see if consoles are in any position to replace PCs or not, too. For those who are fat and happy today, the next PC you buy may not be a PC.



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