You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On

AMD is breaking ground on its Dresden II fab today, and The Inquirer is there gathering up some tidbits here and there.

For us, this quote from the first article is most important:

“Like Intel, AMD said that new microprocessors are expected with additional features rather than faster speed (our emphasis). Those include support for DDR-3, more cache, and more controllers in the chip.”

So if Intel isn’t going to make x86 processors with substantially higher GHz, and AMD isn’t either, just who is left?

Moving on, Hector Ruiz was good for some harrowing comments for performance buffs. He doesn’t seem to like the idea of dual-core desktops too much:

“. . . once AMD has the dual core capability into the Opteron in the second half of next year, the marketplace will decide what consumers want in their performance machines. If customers decide they want that, AMD will consider doing it, but the most logical way is not necessarily to use dual core Opteron technology.”

Well, Intel isn’t “considering” this; Intel is going to do this, and it is ludicrous to say dual-cores for servers is an absolute must, but is a bit dubious for desktops.

What I think that statement really means is, “We’re not going to be ready to make a lot of dual-core anything, or at least not at a vaguely reasonable desktop price, until we build this 65nm fab we’re breaking ground today for. That won’t be until sometime in 2006, but we won’t admit that that’s the real reason why we’re playing follow the leader.”

Hector doesn’t seem to like DDR-2 all too much, either, with mumbles about it being 2006 or later. This will hardly be good news to those who want DDR-2 capability before upgrading to Hammer.

This is another area where AMD is leaving something out of the picture. In all likelihood, the “something” is that the Hammer memory controller will be able to handle DDR or DDR-2, but not both.

The problem here is not what the Hammer memory controller can or cannot do, or AMD not shifting to DDR-2 right away, or shifting later rather than sooner, bur refusing to tell its customers (and not just PC users, manufacturers of AMD-compatible equipment like mobos) what they need to know in order to plan and then sticking to it.

What AMD ought to do is say, “We’ll have at least some DDR-2 capable Hammers available by Date X.” They don’t have to go 100% on that date, just have some ready by then.

This area of customer service is where Intel has it all over AMD. Under normal circumstances, Intel doesn’t treat customers as objects to be alternately left hanging or blindsided. They generally tell you what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it well ahead of time. Sometimes there are delays, but if you’re a corporate exec planning on computer purchases, later is usually better than earlier.

Obviously, cancelling Tejas is an exception to the rule, but what did Intel do immediately afterwards? They immediately provided details on what they were going to do instead.

Imagine you run the computer end of a fairly big company, and it’s your job to upgrade computers. Let’s assume you decide that since these new computers are going to have to last at least five years, you want dual cores and DDR-2 in those machines.

You ask the Intel and AMD salesperson about it.

Intel: Single CPU DDR-2 capable system will be available next month, and dual-cores will start to become available in 2005, and mainstream in 2006.

What does the AMD person say (after Abu Ghraib-like interrogation)? Take your pick:

a) We don’t know.
b) We haven’t figured it out yet.
c) We’re not telling you.

d) It’s none of your business.
e) You don’t need it.

Whom are you more likely to buy from?

Got it? Until AMD “gets” it, their claims of being “customer-centric” are just a slogan.


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