To Beat Or Not To Beat . . .

Last week, we saw some numbers which would seem to indicate that Intel’s next generation processors have jumped considerably ahead of at least current AMD processors.

A natural question to this development is “Can AMD match Intel, and maybe raise them?” To beat or not to beat, that is the question.

Digitimes has just starteda five-part series with Henri Richard, AMD executive vice president and chief officer for marketing and sales.

Not surprisingly, that’s basically the first question the interviewer asked.

And AMD basically answered, “No, we won’t.”

Of course, they didn’t say that, but when you wade through the marsh of irrelevancies, tangentialities and a few brazenly dubious claims, that’s the only conclusion one can draw.

It’s a simple case of the dog that didn’t bark.

Put yourself in AMD’s shoes. Your competitor has just said, “Our next product is going to kick your ass,” and put up some hardware and numbers which would at least seem to back them up.

They’ve shown at least most of their hand. You know what you got. If you got the goods, all you have to say, whatever way you want to say it, is “No, they won’t.”

You don’t have to say “how” or “why.” You don’t have to bring schematics or running machines with you. Just say, “No, they won’t.”

And there is nothing in that interview which says that.

Instead, you get a ton of slurs about Intel. Frankly, it’s a masterpiece of FUD (well, at least UD). Some points are at least arguable, a few are even true, but in the end, all are essentially irrelevant to the question. It’s all just a smoke screen.

It does not matter whether Conroe and Company is really a new-generation architecture or not. It does not matter whether one team or ten designed it. It does not matter whether it’s “revolutionary” or not.

Nor does it matter how Intel got to 64-bit computing, or saw the light on power-light processors.

All that matters is “Will it beat your stuff or not?”

We could go on and on about this, dissecting the response sentence by sentence, but to keep this short and simple, a few sentences will suffice:

After being asked who is going to be the performance leader in the various segments, part of the answer goes like this:

“Where I think they’re rather pushing the envelope is in claiming that, without having seen any of our products, they’re going to have better products than ours.”

If you got the goods, this is where you say “No, they won’t.” If you don’t have it, you say what was actually said, which was:

“I think that’s pretentious, and I think what we’re seeing there is the old Intel.”

Excuse me? Pretentious? What kind of whiny weasel-word is this? Who cares about Intel’s attitude? Are they right or wrong?

A Suggestion

After long years of observation, I can tell you that when AMD has the goods, they are not the least bit shy about saying it. When they don’t, they put up smoke screens like this one, which are carefully designed to look like they’re saying something, but, on close examination, really don’t.

Frankly, this interview convinced me Intel really has something here than the Intel demonstration. This is much more defensive than AMD’s other recent statements.

Even the old “we have to stay quiet for competitive reasons” ploy is in there. You know, that statement makes as much sense when the secret is “We have nothing” as opposed to “We have something.”

But test this yourself. Read the interview, and the future installments, and say to yourself, “If I were him, would I be talking like this if I had the goods? Or would I be saying these things because I don’t have them, and the best I can do is spread FUD?”

The problem with analyzing this kind of speech is that it really is a matter of getting through the smokescreen and finding the dog that didn’t bark, and if you’re not looking for what are subtle omissions, you’ll miss it and think people are seeing mirages. Really, just add one or two sentences to this whole interview to the effect of “No, they won’t,” and it’s a completely different story.

But that statement isn’t there, that’s the whole point.

Granted, we know that so far, the performance of AM2 systems aren’t even matching that of socket 939 systems. If that situation improves a lot, AMD may start saying, “No, they won’t” which would be a good thing for all of us.

But as of right now, they’re not.


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