The Case Against CPUs


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Both myself and Jack Russell have written about AMD charging too much for its own good.

Some seem to have misunderstood what we’re saying, and they think we’re saying that AMD shouldn’t charge $500 for a 3200+ next week.

That’s not what I’m saying, and while I can’t speak for Mr. Russell, it doesn’t appear to be what he’s saying, either.

Perhaps it would make matters clearer if we looked at Prescott and desktop Hammers together, at the same time, and explained the problem we see with both.

Objection One

From an overclocker perspective, given the excellent overclockability of current Athlon XP and PIV platform, desktop Hammers at initial pricing offer poor bang for the buck.

You might say, “So will Prescott when it first comes out.” That’s true, we think exactly the same about it, but there’s a few differences between the two.

Objection Two

We will pay little notice to the initial Prescott as a processor a member of our audience ought to buy (as opposed to the general heat issue), for exactly the same reason as we listed in Objection One.

This will remain the case until Intel releases 2800 and 3000 Prescotts early next year (probably mid-January). They will cost $218 and $278 at introduction.

Let us apply the same principles we applied to Intel to AMD.

It is at least unclear whether or not AMD will release at least “big” Hammer at speeds less than 3200+. As of now, it looks like there will only be three models in the first generation for either Athlon FX and Athlon 64. It does not appear that these CPUs will become affordable to at least a sizable fraction of the computer buying audience (“affordable” being rather generously defined as $250).

We think it is unwise for the general success of the Hammer platform for AMD to have so few models of “big” Hammer at such high prices. We think it would be much wiser for AMD to release at least lower-speed Athlon 64s and FXs at somewhat lower prices.

One might say that this is special pleading, that this is just a way for overclockers to save money. This isn’t true for two reasons.

First, AMD’s high prices will stunt all Hammer purchases, which will make it harder for software manufacturers to port mainstream applications to x86-64. Second, if AMD doesn’t provide lower-cost options, overclockers will not end up paying more; they’ll end up saving a lot more money by not buying it at all.

One may say, “Well, perhaps AMD will put out lower-speed FXs/64s later on, or come out with cheap “little” Hammers later on.”

The latter is more likely, but the small tidbits we’ve gotten so far indicate that AMD intends to charge Intel mainstream-like prices for what will essentially be AMD Celerons. With a quarter the cache of the “big” FXs/64s, and a single-channel memory architecture, performance of such CPUs should be significantly less than that of 64d and sizanle less than that of FXs.

But there is an even more fundamental problem than that.

Objections Three and Four…

The Price Crunch and Same Problems, Same Answers…

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