Price Vs. Performance . . .

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It’s going to be an interesting second half of the year.

Yesterday, we pointed out that AMD slashed its single-core prices dramatically and suggested that similiar slashes in dual-cores were inevitable.

Some have already asked, “Just when is “inevitable?”

“Inevitable” should be sometime around July 23. Check here and here, and you’ll see that prices on dual-core Preslers will be around the $150 range.

AMD is simply not going to be able to sustain a minimum $300 price for an X2 3800+ given that. To add insult to injury, even the brand-new Conroe X6400 running at 2.13GHz will be considerably cheaper (and outperforming) than the X2 3800+

Either AMD cuts prices a lot, or they give up the dual-core market. Given what they did to single-core prices, I don’t think they’re going to give up the dual-core market. I think we’ll see $149 X3800+ sometime in August.

Then What?

It’s undeniable that Conroe will be considerably better overall than any AMD AM2 offerings (you might want to go here for a handy reference to Conroe testing up to now.)

However, excellence won’t come cheaply. We’ve suggested that the cheapest Conroes will be FSB-limited, and as XBit Labs points out, the first attempt by one of the masters at indicates that this is so.

This means spending either $224 or $316 to get an E6400/6600 rather than $183 for the E6300, and while I might not find spending $316 unreasonable under the circumstances, many reading this may well have different thoughts on the matter.

Of course, $224 and $316 assumes that demand doesn’t exceed supply. We’ve pointed out (and others are beginning to chime in) that if there’s less supply than demand, prices could be much higher than that: we could have Opteron II.

It seems that the most interest in Conroe is being expressed by those well behind the curve, and pricing out a new Conroe system is likely to stun some: if you silver-plate a completely new system, you’re not likely to have much change left from $1500, and even if you cut back, I don’t think you’re going to get below $1,000.

In either case, some who prefer buck over bang to bang over buck might consider a relatively cheap dual-core in a couple months and an upgrade to a later-model Conroe or K8L later. This would be an even better idea for Sixpack systems.

How Far Will Any Price War Go?

Oddly enough, that will be largely AMD’s call.

Intel is slashing prices simply because they can’t transition from old to new fast enough, and they have to keep selling the old stuff.

AMD, on the other hand, is going to be faced with considerably less revenue per CPU, and the only way they can try to make up for that is to produce considerably more processors. It’s unclear just how many 90nm CPUs Fab 36 and Chartered are going to make the rest of the year, but if AMD decides to let ’em rip and starts putting an extra 5 million or so extra CPUs a quarter into the system, supply will probably exceed demand, and things will get very, very interesting indeed.

Yes, demand will increase due to lower CPU prices, and Intel will probably not add fuel to the fire by making even more old processors, so things may not get bloodier than they’ll be in a couple months.

But we’re closer to a real price war than we’ve been in a long, long time.



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