AMD’s PR ratings and why they need to do it. –Ed

Tom’s Hardware is saying that AMD is going back to the PR system of rating processors.

The ancients among you know this, but back in the days before fire and the wheel and even Britney’s implants, AMD and Cyrix adopted what was called the “PR” system of rating processors.

Rather than give the actual MHz of a processor, these companies would tell you what they were the equivalent to in Intel MHz terms.

For instance, the Cyrix 6×86-PR200 actually only ran at 150Mhz, but was about as fast (with a couple big caveats) as a Pentium 200.

This caused two major problems:

  • People got confused and didn’t trust these ratings, suspecting they were just PR BS.
  • While AMD was pretty honest about this, Cyrix started playing some PR BS games towards the end; they’d put out the same processor and just give it a higher PR rating.

    An Admission of Desperation

    This is a desperate move by AMD.

    Not desperate as in “we’re desperate because our processors can’t compete” but “we’re desperate because we have no chance convincing those $%*@#!! dimwits out there that our 1.4GHz Athlon is faster than a 1.7Ghz PIV (or equivalent).”

    I think this is an area where it’s safe to say AMD should have a far better idea than we do as to how hopeless explaining that to the general public will be.

    How This Will Be Done

    Like they did a few years back, AMD will identify the processor by their estimation of what the processor is equivalent to in Intel PIV gigahertage.
    If the numbers at Tom’s Hardware are accurate, AMD looks to be rating very conservatively, calling a 1400Mhz Palomino the equivalent of a 1600Mhz PIV.

    Unlike what they did a few years ago, though, the actual Mhz will NOT be shown upon bootup. Just the model number.

    However, that’s not going to stop other programs from measuring and reporting true MHz.

    This is no big deal if you’re even computer hardware semiliterate. But how many computer owners are?

    Inside the “Mind” Of . . .

    There’s been endless Hollywood movies where somebody’s trying to catch a murderer, and you’ll inevitably hear something like, “In order to catch a mass killer, you must think like one.”

    Well, AMD’s caught between a rock and a hard place, because their job is going to be, “In order to catch a dimwit, you have to think like him.”

    This is where Intel has the drop on AMD, because Intel has taken the path of least resistance. It doesn’t require the dimwit to do anything more than “These costs the same. 1.7GHz is more than 1.4Ghz. Therefore 1.7GHz is better.” That’s simple and intuitive.

    Pretty easy, especially when your head hurts when you think any more than that about computers, isn’t it?

    In contrast, AMD has to convince the dimwit that these MHz are different than those MHz. That’s counterintuitive, and it will make absolutely no sense to the dimwit. He’s likely to say:

    “I’m no fool! Just give me the facts! MHz is MHz!!! That’s scientific!! Saying that AMD MHz is different from Intel MHz is like saying the MHz on my Sony FM radio is different than the MHz on my Panasonic radio.”

    And this guy’s going to walk away thinking he’s one smart dude. Nobody can pull anything over on him.

    AMD takes one look at this guy, realizes explanation is hopeless, and decides to at least try to have two wrongs make a right.

    In this situation, since the “facts” lie, AMD has to lie about the facts to tell the truth, since the unvarnished truth is beyond the dimwit’s comprehension. Then they just have to hope the dimwit never notices or hears otherwise.

    Intel, on the other hand, is safe just presenting the “facts” and staying quiet about the truth, knowing full well the dimwit wouldn’t believe the truth, anyway.

    Now who do you think the dimwit is going to believe, the guy he caught lying to him, or the one who “didn’t?”

    So if you’re one of the dimwits who are the reason why AMD is doing this, and you find out at some point the actual speed of your processor, what are you going to do?

    First, you’ll probably think “The computer company ripped me off and gave me a slower processor!”

    After you and your fellow dimwits tax the technical support lines, you’ll probably then think that “AMD is a fraudulent company out to rip people off, because MHz is MHz! Etc, etc, etc..”

    “They have to be lying to us. If they weren’t lying to us, then why are they being so sneaky and devious about it?”

    The real answer, of course, is, “Because you’re stupid,” but that’s never been a great sales pitch.

    Meanwhile, all Intel has to do is stay quiet.

    Do you see AMD’s bind? They’re damned if they do, and damned if they don’t to the dimwit.

    Do You Really Think People Are That Stupid?


    I realize a lot of you will disagree with that. To understand the problem, you have to get your head out of your own butt and into the dimwit’s.

    Then you have to realize there’s a hell of a lot more dimwits out there buying a hell of a lot more computers than there are of you, and they aren’t reading Overclockers or TomsHardware or even PCMagazine before making a decision.

    Instead, they aren’t asking anybody because they think they already know everything they need to know, or because they’re men and intuitively know about these things, or they ask another dimwit down the block who just bought one. At best, maybe they’ll ask some kid, but what do kids know. 🙂

    Don’t you have relatives or friends who bought computers on their own? Or who asked you as the “computer guru” if the computer they were ready to buy was OK? Were these people even thinking in these kind of terms? Were they even aware that such things even existed?

    A couple years back, I had a relative who had just bought an IBM computer and then asked me about it. Conversation:

    Relative: I got a good deal.
    Ed: The price of that processor is going to drop $200 next week.
    Relative: I got a good deal.
    Ed: It only has a 90-watt power supply, and . . .

    Relative: I got a good deal (and walks away)

    I can’t believe I’m the only one who has these kinds of relatives and friends getting good deals.

    As I’ve said many times before, the average person consider a computer to be some glorified stereo or VCR, and shops for them exactly the same way. They figure out a couple buzzwords, and buy based on the cheapest item that has more of the buzzwords than the others.

    Call it clever or call it diabolical, but Intel has positioned itself to give that customer exactly what he or she is asking for, and by going to PR, AMD is conceding they can’t fight that.

    Two Tangential Thoughts

    I find it rather interesting that AMD is rating themselves so conservatively. Might this be an indicator that AMD’s strategy until they have .13 micron ready is to deliberately aim at the low end, saying “Our {cough, cough} 1.6Ghz processor is much better than Intel’s 1.6GHz processor”

    Secondly, if the BIOS is now going to report just a string rather than an actual measurement, it seems to me that it would be at least easier tinker with the BIOS so it would report any speed you like. If you’re out to impress neighbors and friends, you don’t have to upgrade, just change the BIOS string. 🙂

    Email Ed

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