The tradition continues . . . .
We’ve done a summary of the year’s events for a long, long time. For your edification and occasional amusement, here are some of them:
Computing Event of the Year
Arab Micro Devices It is indeed rare when you know what the computing event of next year is going to be before the year even starts, but that’s the case this year. Next year is going to be about the economy tanking and what that does to the computer industry. While a good argument can be made that the economy ought to be this year’s event, the full impact won’t register until next year. So instead we choose AMD’s Perils of Pauline rescue by Abu Dhabi investment firms just before something hit the fan. That doesn’t mean happy days are here again for Green, the near-term forecast is for some pretty unhappy days. But since there is no heaven for corporations, it’s better to be sad than dead.
Overclocking Product of the Year
HD4000 series This may be a bit of a stretch, this normally goes to a CPU, but no CPU had any big impact this year. Penryns were basically Conroes 1.1, and Phenoms, let’s be charitably silent. The HD4000 series and their impact on video card pricing had more impact than anything else, so it gets the nod this year.
Dog of the Year
nVidia video chips: In a word, substrates.
Winner of the Year
The Company Formally Known As ATI: They were largely given up for dead, but came back, not only with video cards but with motherboard chipsets. If only the CPU side of the company could do as well next year.
Loser of the Year
nVidia: In a word, substrates. Whether fairly or not, those faulty substrates in notebooks chips or maybe elsewhere are going to be considered a ticking time bomb for the next few years, and if this is half-right, the solution is worse than the initial problem.
Hector Ruiz: Last year, we didn’t give this one out, but said the following:
You might think AMD head Hector Ruiz was a lock for this position, but since we don’t think he’s going to be around much longer, we’ll hold the award vacant. If we’re wrong, and he’s still around, we’ll retroactively give him this one.
Well, Hector didn’t last as head of AMD, but given that he basically talked his way into becoming the head of the Foundry Company, we’d have to say that’s close enough for him to earn this for 2007 and 2008.
Slick Willy Award
Hector Ruiz: We have absolutely no hesitation giving Hector this one. Lose billions of dollars, lose your job, and after all that, still get those Abu Dhabi folks who had already lost hundreds of millions and more than half their investment within weeks after listening to him the year before to pump billions more into a spinoff company, and make him its boss? We thought Hector was just a BS artist, but this is BS2, maybe even BS3. We would retire this award were it not for the possibility Apple might have Steve Jobs run the company while dead, at least until Barack Obama becomes available.
What To Watch In 2009
To Which Circle of Economic Hell Will We Descend? We already know the Grinch Stole This Christmas; the numbers for the quarter are going to go to hell. What we don’t know is whether or not they’re going to stay there for a while, and for how long. We also don’t know whether this is going to be your sharp but fairly short recession, or something longer and worse. If it’s the first, the numbers will bounce mostly back fairly shortly; if the second, they could stay down there, and if that happens, a lot of the weaker links aren’t going to make it. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, but by this time next year, we will.
As we said at the beginning of this article, the economy is already a virtual lock to be the event of the year in 2009, and it will largely shape, if not determine the course of other events. Do memory manufacturers start going bell-up? How will AMD do with its Denebs? Will Intel’s Bloomfield line prove to be a good idea (for Intel, anyway) at the wrong time? Will Intel speed up or slow down new product releases? What will everyone else do? Will SSD growth get squelched? Will still-slightly-before-its-time netbooks see extra-good times due to bad times? Will Windows 7 show up roughly on time, and will anyone really care? All these questions are going to be largely answered by the economy.