Yeahs and Nays For 2006 . . .

Computing Event of the Year

The Year of The Shortage: From Opterons and XBox360s at the beginning of the year to PS3 fights at the end, the year was typlified by supply not meeting demand, and tech companies not much caring.

Overclocking Product of the Year

Conroes The Empire struck back, and even AMD fans started switching.

Dog of the Year

Sony Notebook Batteries More than a few products were known to overheat this year, but catch on fire?

Winner of the Year

Nobody: No one seems to want this award, this is the second year in a row it’s gone vacant. Again, no one won big-time, and the three who could plausibly make claims had clouds along with the silver lining.

Intel grabbed back the technical lead, but lost marketshare since most of its fabs cranked out old, not-so-good stuff. AMD gained some marketshare, but lost the technical lead. Microsoft had a success with the XBox 360, but it was mostly by default.

Loser of the Year

You: Not your bad, you were victimized this year. Throughout the year, manufacturers made you chase around for products that weren’t there. The effort to make gaming PCs luxury items with luxury prices moved rapidly along. AMD broke up with you and started dating Dell. You didn’t get no respect this year, and for the first time ever, more than a few have told me, “Maybe this overclocking stuff (outside of the Starbucks PCs) we’ve been doing all these years is starting to die out.”

Honorable Mention: Sony From secret rootkits to exploding batteries to absent PS3s, well, if you asked the average person, “What did Sony do right this year?” they might get back to you in a week or so.

Survivor Award

AMD and Intel: The price war the second half of the year has had amazingly few casualties. Both companies stayed amazingly profitable in the fall despite lousy products and/or huge price cuts.

Slick Willy Award

Core Duo Notebooks: AMD had won this award two years in a row, but more for consistent chutzpah than absolutely brazen, Nobel Prize-winning BS. Only Intel can do that, and they did that this year with their notebook CPUs.

By distinguishing two generations of processors with just the number “2” buried in the middle of the name, Intel managed and is still managing to sell CoreDuo notebooks to tens of millions of users, who will only find out about Core[b]2[/b]Duo processors when they want to go 64-bit in a few years.

What To Watch In 2007

Vista: Will it be the next Windows XP, or the next Windows Milennium Edition? Maybe more importantly, is MS even capable of coming out with something better within a year or two if it does flop?

What Happens To AMD? From a technical standpoint, 2007 doesn’t look like a good year for AMD. They’re behind Intel now, and when they catch up in the middle of the year, Intel will jump ahead with 45nm. How much will that affect them financially and perceptually? Will the corporatization of AMD customers continue undaunted?

The 100% Overclock Historically, a CPU capable of a 50% overclock without much muss or fuss has been considered a classic overclocker. The E4300, which will debut next month, will probably make a 100% (or close to it) OC pretty easy. The second half of the year, we’ll see what Intel’s 45nm chips can do

AMD? It really boils down to three letters: SOI. If they or IBM can crank up the SOI sauce in the next few months, things might get interesting, but based on what they said so far, it hasn’t happened yet.


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