Wake Up Call

As shown here, we have affordable socket 939 Hammers coming sometime in October.

Affordable 90nm socket 939 Hammer chips. Take a look yourself.

There are, of course, plenty of ifs ands or buts. As predicted, 90nm chips will begin at the low end of the Hammer food chain, with initial processor speeds not exceeding 2.2GHz, while the 2.6GHz chips plan to be introduced at 130nm.

The only other time someone did something like that within a single processor line, it was Intel with Prescott. That is not exactly reassuring. So increased overclockability over current 130nm models is a big if.

The issue of what socket 939 board to buy, AGP or PCI Express (which seems to be delayed a bit on the AMD side) will cease to be an academic issue.

For the moment, this isn’t terribly important. What is important is that the drought is over, and a window of opportunity to buy is opening up.

The Only Game In Town

If this doesn’t horribly enthuse you, that’s OK. If you have a belief in not upgrading until you can double your processing power, or something like that, you ought not get enthused.

What you ought to know, though, is that for the next year or so, what happens with AMD and socket 939 is going to be the only game in town. Intel is in disarray, and matters don’t look like they’ll improve significantly for an overclocker for quite some time.

If you don’t think AMD offers enough game for you, fine, but it’s not like there’s going to be anything else to play. Better get interested in something else like HDTV or XBox3 or even women for a while. 🙂

Dual-core? Not going to be affordable until 2006, and both AMD and Intel are swearing up and down that current mobos will be able to handle dual-cores with no problem.

DDR2 memory for Hammers? We’ll see it sometime in 2005, but it looks like it will require both a new mobo AND a new CPU with a different number of pins. It’s going to be a pretty long additional wait for not much improvement. If you’re feeling particularly fat and happy with your current system and want it, fine, but we don’t think it’s a have-to-have.

More Than A Trickle, Less Than A Flood

We think the next year will see the first real shift by AMDers from the Athlon to the Hammer platform. It won’t be universal by any means, and may start off slowly but it won’t be a trickle like Hammer sales among this audience have been up to now.

However, for many, it won’t be a matter of trickling over, but trickling out. Paying $150 or $170 for a CPU could well be an unacceptable experience for those used to paying $50 or $70.

And I think we’re going to lose more than a few in the process. Not lose in the sense that they’ll never play a game or upgrade their computer ever again, but lose the level of interest they currently have as they get priced out of the market.

No, I don’t think this is going to become the Sempron gang, for the same reason we didn’t have many Duron overclockers nor currently have many PIV Celeron overclockers. Enthusiasts generally don’t want decidedly second-rate equipment. They’ll either pony up the additional cash, or drop out.

I think much (maybe most) AMDers will make do with what they currently have as long as they can, hoping for the sub-$100 processors to come back, and when/if they don’t, decide whether or not to pony up.

I think most of them will eventually pony up, but a good chunk won’t.

This isn’t a plea for a $50 full-blown Hammer; AMD has to make more money to survive, but it’s an inevitable consequence of moving upmarket.


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