Miscellaneous AMD Tidbits

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First Returns On 90nm

There’s been a handful of 90nm chips overclocked so far. Generally the maximum OC with high-end air is coming in at around 2.5-2.6GHz; one person got a 2.75GHz.

There’s also been a few misreports and urban legends created along the way. For instance, someone with a Vapochill managed 3GHz. Somehow, someone turned that into “water cooling,” and people have been spreading that around. Just not so.

Unfortunately, these chips have been scarce as hens-teeth. Only one place even promises to have any anytime soon, at a fairly steep price premium. Newegg took some orders, then the webpages offering these processors just vanished.

We’ll see whether this is just a matter of waiting a couple weeks for supplies to show up, or something more vaporous than that.

No Speed Demons Soon

We have a new AMD roadmap which shows a few items of mild interest.

The roadmap for Athlon 64/FXs isn’t different from earlier ones, but our understanding of it has deepened with some of the recent moves AMD has made.

AMD’s recent move on the 130nm Athlon 4000 indicates that they will vary cache sizes to reach stated PR points, and in the future, they may very well do so should they face yield problems at certain speeds.

For instance, the Athlon 4000+ shown on the roadmap for Q2 2005 will certainly be 90nm, but it could be either a 2.4Ghz chip with 1Mb cache or a 2.6GHz chip with 512K cache.

The 4200+ could be either a 2.6Ghz chip with 1Mb cache or a 2.8GHz chip with 512K.

What we actually get will probably depend on how well AMD does in the months ahead.

A Skeleton In The Closet

A new challenge AMD may have to face in the next year or two will come from an area few if any overclockers think about much: the foreign currency exchange markets.

How so?

Like oil, CPU are denominated in U.S. dollars. Early this year, the value of the U.S. dollar fell fairly sharply against the value of many currencies, most importantly against the euro. Many economists believe that the U.S. dollar will have another sharp drop in value in the short- to medium-term.

The first drop is part of the reason why oil prices have been going up quite a bit lately in the U.S. and in other places where the value of the currency is somehow tied to the U.S. dollar.

To make a very long story short, AMD is more susceptible to being hurt eventually by such a devaluation on the CPU side than Intel simply because they make their CPUs in Germany, and if the dollar goes down again, the euro will probably go up again.

Intel, on the other hand, makes CPUs all over the world, so their exposure to changes in currency rates is more balanced.

While it’s far more likely that Italian spaghetti will jump up in price than CPU pricing, and there are counterfactors that will likely reduce the impact of foreign exchange values, another big drop in the value of the U.S. dollar will put more financial pressure on AMD than it will Intel. That will likely make them think twice about aggressively cutting prices.



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