Phenom Pricing . . .

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There’s been a number of reports on Phenom X4 pricing. While the reports aren’t too consistent, they suggest pricing in the $250-$300 range.

We think the issue here is not what where these prices begin, but where they’ll end up within the next six months.

We see two key factors:

  • There won’t be many of them any time soon, and
  • They aren’t going to be too good.

    How many quads will AMD make this quarter? To quote AMD, ” . . . we expect to ship hundreds of thousands of quad-core processors this quarter into the server and desktop segments.”

    In English, that means, “We hope to get 200-300,000 out in Q4.” That’s not a lot; Intel will probably make a couple million Kentsfields this quarter, and most of AMD’s production will probably be Barcelonas rather than Phenoms.

    Relative scarcity will probably end up propping up the price for the first couple months.

    After that, AMD’s likely to have problems getting that kind of price because these chips just aren’t going to be very good. A 2.4GHz Phenom may end up roughly even with the Kentsfield Q6600 at default (though the Q6600 will overclock much better), but it’s not going to beat a 2.66GHz Yorkfield, and probably not the 2.5GHz cut-down-cache model.

    Maybe more to the point, for most tests, it’s not going to beat a high-speed dual-core, even AMDs.

    These chips will be the BA stepping, not the later B2 (or maybe later) stepping, which will run faster and/or overclock more, so people looking for a cheap processor upgrade will be better off waiting until B2s show up.

    None of this is likely to matter so long as there’s just a few around, but going into next year, the prices on these chips are going to buckle.

    It’s pretty obvious that Intel’s designated AMD-killer is going to be the Q9300. That’s the one running at 2.5GHz with half the cache. This is the E4300 line all over again, in quad.

    This cut-down Penryn isn’t going to be much bigger than the current Conroe (c. around 175 sq. mm vs. Conroe’s 143), and much smaller than any 65nm AMD quad (Barcelona is 283 sq. mm).

    That’s what the OEMs are going to end up putting in their boxes, and God knows what pittance AMD is going to end up with from the OEMs to power their quad boxes, much less any tris.

    For the retail market, Intel could certainly knock down the price of the Q9300 to around $200, say in April, and then what is AMD going to be able to charge?

    Keep in mind each AMD quad is going to chew up at least twice the real estate of a dually, so getting $200 for a quad is like getting $100 each for two duallies. Factor in differing yields, and it’s probably more like getting $80 each.

    It looks like déjà vu all over again. By the time AMD can actually make a bunch of K10s, they’ll be putting in twice the resources to make the quads, and not getting anywhere near twice the price for them.

    Doesn’t look good to me.


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