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Is AMD Dead Yet? 467

Posted by kdawson
from the pining-for-the-fjords dept.
TheProcess writes "Back in February 2003, IBM predicted that AMD would be dead in 5 years (original article here), with IBM and Intel the only remaining players in the chip market. Well, 5 years have passed and AMD is still alive. However, its finances and stock price have taken a serious beating over the last year. AMD was once a darling in this community — the plucky, up-and-coming challenger to the Intel behemoth. Will AMD still be here in 5 years? Can they pose a credible competitive threat to Intel's dominance? Do they still have superior but unappreciated technology? Or are they finally old hat? Can they really recover?"
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Is AMD Dead Yet?

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  • by ookabooka (731013) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:31AM (#22543262)
    I was wondering if anyone could explain to me why they purchased ATI. They spent oodles of money to R&D the new quad core architecture to really be a seamless 4 core proc that shared caches etc. Intel just slapped two dual cores together and shipped that. Turns out that in benchmarks for consumer programs, intel's stuff works quite well. AMD's cache sharing and topology of memory access that seems better for true multithreaded applications is irrelevant and occasionally a hinderance when you're running multiple single threaded programs. So they spend oodles on R&D and may not see that much of a return until apps can utilize it better. . .Then they go off and buy ATI? Wouldn't it make sense to hang onto money a bit more than just purchase another company? Could that move end up dragging ATI down too?
    • by darien (180561) <darien.gmail@com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:47AM (#22543372)
      They think - or at least they claim to think - it's all about the platform. With ATi under their wing, they can now offer a complete PC ("Spider") or notebook ("Puma") without giving any sales to Intel on the CPU side or Nvidia on the chipset/graphics side. To be honest, I'm not convinced that's what they needed, but I can sort of see the appeal for them.
      • by Moryath (553296) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:06AM (#22544508)
        Dell is finally selling PC's with AMD processors right along the Intel offerings.

        They finally, now, have the platform.

        Not just that - the difference between Intel is hubris vs economics. As nerds, WE have the responsibility to show people where they're wasting their money. If you're shelling out $6000 to get something bleeding-fucking-tomorrow-edge, yes, you want Intel. If you want something you can use for the next 3 years, but not top of the line (which most people don't need), then an AMD chip will cost you less than half as much as an equivalent-powered Intel.

        My hope is that AMD continues to grow and gets their chips into lines from a few other commodity manufacturers. The best thing for the consumer would be two companies competing on approximately equal footing.
        • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:14AM (#22545082) Homepage
          And it's working. We got one of each when dell started that on the laptop side. I got a 620 and a 131L

          the AMD based latitude 131L kicked the crap out of the 620 laptop in performance, so we went that route for the whole company. we ended up saving money as well as the AMD laptops were cheaper. the ONLY gripe was that the 620 still had pcmcia and the 131L was new tech and used the Expresscard. so several sales people were without cellular internet for a while until we got expresscard modems to replace the pcmcia modems. This was a year ago and we still are happy with the decision.

          The only problem is it's hard to find high end servers that are AMD. All the Intel Dell servers are robust and real server hardware, the amd versions are glorified PC's. I want a 4 processor Dual Core server grade system to replace our aging 8 processor SQL server Only recently did Dell release a quad dual core opteron server platform. I have yet to inspect it to see if it's full server grade hardware though.

        • by Kamokazi (1080091) on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:19AM (#22545126)
          When you can buy an E6750 for $180 that is competitive with/beats AMD's more expensive top of the line Phenom depending on the application, then it's really hard to justify buuilding a $600-700 PC that uses AMD.

          Now for the really cheap machines, AMD 64 X2's are the way to go...much better than any Intel processor in that price range ($60-$120).
    • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:48AM (#22543380) Homepage

      What they originally wanted to do was merge with nVidia, it made sense at the time because nVidia was producing the best chipset for AMD CPUs. Anyway the communications between the 2 companies went sour, so AMD, still hot to do something picked the number 2 choice, ATI.

      Now a merger between nVidia and AMD would have produced a powerful company. nVida has 3DFX tech, Telsa, chipsets and the 2 companies had already done a lot of joint work on the original X-BOX design (intel was a late entry). AMD brought CPU tech, flash and some other tech into the mix. However it was not meant to be.

      So buying ATI was just a plan B, and not really optimal.

      The Intel Core architechture is impressive. It's powerful enough over the Athlon that they can take shortcuts. Gives them more headroom for later, whereas the Athlon is reaching its maximum efficiency of instructions per clock so they have to be more thoughtful with their engineering.

      • FRAUD ALERT? First, for me this story crossed a line. It looks like stock manipulation. Was KDawson paid to post this story? Who at Slashdot or its parent company has recently sold AMD stock short, betting that the price will fall? Are any Intel employees involved?

        I would like to see a statement added at the end of this Slashdot story that KDawson took no money for this story, and that no one at Slashdot or its parent company took money or will benefit from a drop in price of AMD stock. I'm not accusing anyone of anything; I am just concerned that this story is worded in a way that seems sleazy and possibly fraudulent to me.

        Second, in response to the parent comment. ATI is the premier video CPU provider now. nVidia is so lame that there is an entire web site devoted to fixing nVidia driver issues: LaptopVideo2Go [laptopvideo2go.com]. I spent hours trying to get one of my laptops, which has an nVidia chip, to work correctly with an external monitor. It works well now, but I could never have done the work without the help of LaptopVideo2Go.

        Third, Intel is suffering from very bad management. For example, see the comment [slashdot.org] I posted to an earlier Slashdot story, responding to someone saying, "Intel's behavior regarding the OLPC is reprehensible."

        Fourth, AMD seems to be the more technologically dedicated company. Intel has a history of dumb mistakes. For example, see this December 2000 article about the Pentium 4, which calls Intel "Chipzilla": Pentium 4 Linux problem all Chipzilla's fault, apparently [theregister.co.uk]. Quote: "Intel... failed ... through dumbness rather than malice."

        I seem to remember that the entire Pentium 4 architecture was abandoned in favor of the Pentium 4 Mobile architecture, which is what Intel is shipping now.

        Both AMD and Intel make VERY sophisticated processors. It's amazing that a product that is so tiny it is affected by quantum physics is cheap enough for everyone to own. When one is temporarily ahead, it is simply silly to say that the other is dying.

        Stock prices are often affected by hysteria. This is especially true of prices of technical stocks, which are often owned by people who don't really understand the technology of the company they partly own.
        • Anyone thinking that Intel can always be ahead of AMD should read the history of the Pentium 4 [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia. Two quotes:

          "Finally, the thermal problems were so severe, Intel decided to abandon the Prescott architecture altogether, and attempts to roll out a 4 GHz part were abandoned, as a waste of internal resources."

          "The original successor to the Pentium 4 was Tejas, which was scheduled for an early-mid-2005 release. However, it was cancelled a few months after the release of Prescott due to extremely high power consumption (a 2.8 GHz Tejas consumed 150 W of power..."
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pokerdad (1124121)

            Anyone thinking that Intel can always be ahead of AMD should read the history of the Pentium 4 on Wikipedia. Two quotes:

            Silly me, I thought you were going to drag out AMD being the first to 1GHz and intel's failed attempt to leap frog them with the 1.13 GHz.

            Kinda like Linux, AMD's big year has always been just around the corner, but has never arrived.

          • by dpilot (134227) on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:33AM (#22545276) Homepage Journal
            Intel's failings on Itanium and Netburst were common corporate faults.

            When the competitive marketplace isn't driving you, you have to drive yourself. Once that starts to happen, the directions can become bizarre, with Itanium and Netburst being to very good examples.

            Itanium: The problem Itanium was designed to handle was cloning. First and foremost, they sewed up the I.P. so that it was not subject to any existing cross-licensing agreements. Second, the architecture was sufficiently different that they were outside of the realm of existing art ahd cross-licensing, so their I.P. was "strong." Notice that I haven't said a word yet about performance, cost, or any of that normal stuff. When mere technical and marketplace concerns are that low in the priority schemes, guess what happens.

            Netburst: It seemed like someone in marketing got overly focused on clockspeed as the Ultimate Metric. The rest falls from there.

            The reality is that ANY corporate product, will turn to junk without a competitive marketplace to keep it focused on delivering value to customers. Once competition is gone from a specific marketplace, the company will either focus its development budget in other areas where it needs to respond to competition, or it's development will be driven by motivations internal to the company, that are likely irrelevant or even negative to customers
        • Links: Intel stock (Score:5, Informative)

          by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:40AM (#22544368) Homepage
          Intel stock is down [google.com], too.

          See also this January 16, 2008 Bloomberg story: U.S. Stocks Fall on Intel Forecast, Extending Global Tumble [bloomberg.com].

          Quote: "Intel, the world's largest computer-chip maker, tumbled the most in five years in Nasdaq Stock Market trading after saying first-quarter sales will be as much as 6.9 percent below analysts' estimates."
          • by ShinmaWa (449201) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:11AM (#22546424)
            If you look at the companies from a 5-year window (such as this article does), AMD looks better:

            Intel is UP 17.4%
            AMD is UP almost 28.4%

            But if we extend that window to 8 years, they are BOTH in trouble, each DOWN about 63%.

            Lastly, with careful manipulation of the dates to just a little bit over 2 years (where I chose the high point in the stock after the AMD/ATI hysteria and AMD's stock price skyrocketed before coming back to the Realm of Reality), it looks like AMD is on the brink, being down over 80%.

            This is why we shouldn't use stock prices over time to judge these things. They are just too easily manipulated.

            However, I'm NOT saying AMD isn't having troubles right now. There's a LOT on AMD's sheets right now that look very unhappy with a negative P/E and EPS along with massive cash losses. I'm just saying we shouldn't look at stock price alone, especially over arbitrary time lengths.
        • People are selling AMD stock short [nasdaq.com], betting it will go down. To make money, they need the price of AMD stock to drop.

          Often a company's stock price reflects market manipulation rather than any sensible estimate of the true value of the company. This Slashdot story is very likely to drive the price down, as short sellers want. Check the price after the market opens.

          When AMD integrates ATI video with AMD CPUs, the resulting combination is likely to be very competitive. AMDs technical prospects seem good to me, although I have not done a thorough analysis. Remember that we are no longer in a CPU speed race; CPUs are fast enough now for the average user.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by aminorex (141494)
            When a sufficient number of people sell a stock short, then any slight upturn in the stock price will result in a rush to buy to cover their short positions, and a consequent rapid, dramatic rise in stock price. This is called a short squeeze. But AMD stock volumes are large enough so that short squeezes are difficult to derive -- although still possible. Certainly a high percentage of shares held short is considered a very healthy sign for the ultimate price of a stock, on contrarian principles.

            If you r
          • by michrech (468134) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:08AM (#22545630)

            Remember that we are no longer in a CPU speed race; CPUs are fast enough now for the average user.
            Funny. My mother has a newspaper clipping of me saying something very similar -- back in about '93. It wasn't true then, it's not true now. There are all *sorts* of things we can't even do today (like talk to our computer and have it do/write what we say).

            Sure, if the *only* things you are doing with your PC are looking at web pages and "doing email" (as some put it), or "office work", then our current PC's are fine. Of course, the same was true of the computers at the time I was quoted in the paper, too. I want to do *more* and I'm not alone.

            Just look back to '93, then compare that with what we can do now. Now, try to imagine what we could be doing in another 14 years...
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Belial6 (794905)
              I used to agree with you 100%. Now I only agree 50%. You are right that there are things that just can't be done with the processor speeds we have today. The thing is, that all the things that can be done at all either run fast enough for most people, or are batch process stuff like video encoding. These are things that are nice to have run faster, but are not important enough to warrant a new machine.

              I know my computer isn't fast enough because I cannot run a 3D environment in a high enough resoluti
        • Who at Slashdot or its parent company has recently sold AMD stock short
          Slashdot has a parent company? Who knew?

          I'm glad AMD is in the market if only because they force Intel to do deep price cuts to their Core2Duo line. Plus, AMD's quad cores are terrific for digital audio workstations. For the price, they are still very fine processors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          First, for me this story crossed a line. It looks like stock manipulation.

          Yeah I'm always watching the front page of slashdot waiting for it to tell me what to buy and what to sell. Actually that might work...stock market is group think, slashdot is group think.

        • by gordo3000 (785698) on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:06AM (#22544998)
          have you done any fundamental looks at AMD's balance sheet, income statement, or CF statements? have you seen how the stock has performed over the last 2.5 years?it's stock has been in a precipitous downward spiral. If you were long AMD for the last 2 years, you have basically been crushed.

          now, why is it down? well, look at their earnings. they have done pitiful. turns out in a slugout pricewar, intel can stay profitable while AMD is on the ropes. last year they lost money and continue to show no signs of recovering from their tech deficit they have again built against Intel. Now adays, the fastest AMD chip not on the market yet is slower than what intel already has at full production.

          FYI: they last 166 million dollars last year. I'm not sure why this looks like manipulation as compared to just poor performance by the company without much of an end in sight.

          oh, and my disclaimer: following my advice will hurt my long position in AMD.
    • by DrSkwid (118965) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:58AM (#22543434) Homepage Journal
      I'm hoping that their new interest in opening up documentation and APIs is along term winner and they follow that through properly. OSS really needs a top hardware vendor on board that is open. If ATI is a secondary income stream then "we're protecting our IP" *should* be heard less and less. If the open model is right then a vendor that makes solid open hardware should be a winner over closed locked down stuff.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Unfortunately, I think the subset of Linux/OSS users (Windows is all closed source, why would one bit more or less matter) are a tiny little slice in this context, particularly since nVidia have very good and stable but closed source drivers and many won't change what works.

        I hope both AMD and ATI do well to keep the competition up, but to me it's two underdogs stuck together. Usually you want one pulling the other up, not both pulling each other down. There's more than one company that's gone straight to h
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:00AM (#22543454) Journal
      They spent oodles of money to R&D the new quad core architecture to really be a seamless 4 core proc that shared caches etc. Intel just slapped two dual cores together and shipped that. Turns out that in benchmarks for consumer programs, intel's stuff works quite well. AMD's cache sharing and topology of memory access that seems better for true multithreaded applications is irrelevant and occasionally a hinderance when you're running multiple single threaded programs.

      When you are designing architectures for 7 or so years out, you need a powerful crystal ball, but no such thing exists. AMD just guessed wrong about the nature of future applications. Intel guessed wrong with the Itanium also. Maybe the common thread is you have to fit existing apps instead of the other way around. But, betting against app change has risk also.

      Perhaps AMD should focus on the low end rather than guess what the high-end app technology of the future will look like. This may be a better bet for them because they cannot absorb the kinds of gambles that Intel can, being a smaller company. Thus, if they focus on the low-end, they don't have to predict the future of the high-end apps, reducing their risk. They just have to make existing apps run faster and/or cheaper. This would essentially force Intel to be the pioneer (of app change guessing) and take the arrows so that AMD doesn't have to. Of course there are the arrows of internal technology changes, but at least having to guess what *apps* of the future will be like is out of their court.
           
      • The problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday February 25, 2008 @05:11AM (#22543722)
        That good high end technology often gives you a good low end too. That is the current case with Intel's Core technology. You take a Core 2, but instead just make a single core version with less cache and clock it way down. You then have a chip with extremely good performance per watt, and good yields (and thus low price) to boot. The Core Solos, as Intel calls them, are extremely competitive on the low end. They've got ones with a TDP as low as 5.5watts.

        So it can be hard to try and just compete on the low end of things, since you can't charge as much, and often the people doing the high end things get killer low end products as a side effect.

        This is something companies have found out with graphics cards. There have been a number of companies who have tried to compete with nVidia and ATi in the lower end market. Their idea is that while they don't have the R&D to produce a top flight graphics card, that's ok because most people don't buy one of those anyhow. They'll make midrange and lower end cards and sell those.

        Great idea, it seems, until you consider that ATi and nVidia get great midrange cards as a side effect of their high end cards. Graphics cards are highly parallel beasts so all they do to make a lower end card is cut some of the units off, put on less memory, maybe clock it down a bit to improve yields and they are good to go. An 8800 GTX and an 8600 GT are the same beast at heart. The 8600 basically just has 25% the number of shader units the 8800 does, and other things like a smaller memory bus. End result is nVidia has and extremely fast $100 card that cost them very little in terms of R&D that wasn't already done for their high end card.

        So the companies that have tried have thus far met with little success. Their offerings just haven't been able to compete with the big boys and it is no surprise. You can pour a lot more in to R&D when you are going to sell graphics cards at $500+ and then make use of that very same technology in midrange and low end cards.
      • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash.p10link@net> on Monday February 25, 2008 @06:09AM (#22543968) Homepage
        When you are designing architectures for 7 or so years out, you need a powerful crystal ball, but no such thing exists. AMD just guessed wrong about the nature of future applications. Intel guessed wrong with the Itanium also. Maybe the common thread is you have to fit existing apps instead of the other way around. But, betting against app change has risk also.

        The problem is that the low end is probablly only a couple of years behind the high end. So if you try and stick to the low end you still have to design architectures 5 years or so out and each low end CPU makes far less profit than each high end CPU so you find it even harder to cover those R&D costs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TemporalBeing (803363)

        When you are designing architectures for 7 or so years out, you need a powerful crystal ball, but no such thing exists. AMD just guessed wrong about the nature of future applications. Intel guessed wrong with the Itanium also. Maybe the common thread is you have to fit existing apps instead of the other way around. But, betting against app change has risk also.

        That is actually part of the success of AMD64. Intel tried to move off of x86. However, x86 compatibility proved too powerful, and AMD had bet on t

    • by Beliskner (566513) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:03AM (#22543468) Homepage

      Then they go off and buy ATI? Wouldn't it make sense to hang onto money a bit more than just purchase another company? Could that move end up dragging ATI down too?
      That's because their plan is to merge the CPU and GPU into one unit [computerworld.com]. This is an advance that even Intel does not appear to be planning
      • by JorDan Clock (664877) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:28AM (#22543544)
        O RLY? [tech.co.uk]

        Internet memes aside, Nehalem has been confirmed to have GPU cores glued together in the same package as the CPU. That means you could have a Nehalem chip with an Intel X4500 (or even the memory controller) in one package. Considering Intel is currently the largest producer of graphics processors and seems to be more capable of developing and launching such technologies than relatively-small AMD, I would not be surprised in the least if Intel's technology beats out AMDs Fusion technology to the market.
        • by aminorex (141494) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:09AM (#22545640) Homepage Journal
          I'm sure you're right about being able to beat AMD to the market -- but would anyone care? A fusion product that did not incorporate competitive 3d graphics and GPGPU capabilities would be about as interesting as SiS graphics on your motherboard -- i.e. it would only be of interest at the low-margin bottom-feeding end of the market. But a fusion product that incorporates quad R600+opteron and lets you run double precision vector kernels over HyperTransport at 4Gb/sec would quickly take over the Top 500 list, as well as eating nVidia's lunch by obsoleting the very concept of a "video card". It's not so much Intel's lunch money that is in danger here as nVidia's. But even so, that's a big chunk of high-end market that Intel will be effectively priced out of, because they have no competitive solution.
    • by dotancohen (1015143) on Monday February 25, 2008 @05:53AM (#22543894) Homepage
      AMD's opening of the ATI graphics card specs is what reinterested me in both companies. I had been buying Intel for quite some time now, but I'm going back to AMD because of the openness. Yes, Intel is open as well, but I've had much better results pushing AMD chips to the limits of temperature and I found them much more reliable when overheated than Intel. The fact that they are slightly less expensive is nice, too.
  • by vxvxvxvx (745287) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:34AM (#22543284)
    When AMD came out with low priced CPUs that were highly overclockable and great performance at stock they became *the* CPU for any serious geek. When they changed their mind and decided to price-match Intel causing massive price increases they alienated their primary sales force. Geeks selling to family & friends was a great system and without that AMD has been hurting. It's possible they would have died anyway sticking to the cheap, but they've never made a sufficient argument to their customers of why they can't keep the prices low like in the past without letting it on that they like all big business care more about short term cash than long term relationships.
    • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:39AM (#22543304) Homepage Journal
      And they went with trusted computing. That was the last straw for me. I would have continued to buy from them despite the flaws listed in parent post, if they just continued to build computers that I could trust.
    • A few years ago I bought a notebook with a "2200+" AMD chip. That number, generated by marketroids, is absolutely meaningless, but it was meant to imply that this chip was more powerful than an Intel 2200 MHz chip. They went to great effort to create benchmark tests to prove this "clock doesn't matter" meme.

      Well, I tested it in the only benchmark that matters to me, my own applications. The result? For some applications involving video processing, those where I need most CPU, it performed at about 25% of th

      • > You can only stretch the truth so far, when one is doing number crunching a faster clock will get you more performance than faster context switches.

        You don't specify which applications you were using, or what you were doing, or in fact any useful detail at all, which makes your story essentially unverifiable. Moreover, your reported results appear to be somewhat at variance with the general experience, and your claim here is just overly simplistic (ALU throughput, and having enough registers to effecti
      • The only way you could have gotten a performance difference that large is if the Pentium 4 was using an SIMD extension which the AMD CPU wasn't using. In other words, if the test was specifically optimized in favor of the Pentium 4 and not optimized in the same way for AMD.

        Yes, clock does matter, but there are tradeoffs, and Intel chose to maximize clock frequency at the expense of all else. AMD had to either explain that to customers, or switch to using an actual benchmark to measure performance. Argue all you like about which benchmark they chose, but it was the right decision.
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:59AM (#22546236) Homepage
        I really don't care about how much better it performs in office applications, or whatever other tests AMD did to "prove" that clock speed doesn't matter. You can only stretch the truth so far, when one is doing number crunching a faster clock will get you more performance than faster context switches.

        I'm not going to question your personal experience as the others did. It's certainly believable that there's an application where the AMD processor performs 1/4th the speed of an Intel one (and vice versa).

        I just want to point out that if the AMD processor actually was 2200 MHz, then you still could have found that the application that interests you performed at 1/4th the speed on that processor than the equivalent Intel one. Meaning that without the performance modeling numbers, you still would have found the equivalent "numbers" to result in an invalid comparison.

        Clock frequency is not an automatic benefit for number crunching. If you don't change the architecture, then obviously yes a faster clock helps. But you don't go from a 1600 MHz chip to a 2200 MHz chip in the same time period without changing architectures. Performance is Clock Frequency * Insructions per Cycle, and a wide machine (many execution units) with low memory latency is going to tend to have higher IPC. However, the IPC value varies wildly by benchmark, and a benchmark that reveals certain deficiencies or strengths of the architecture may fall well outside normal, as was your case.

        AMDs "modelhertz" or "markethertz" numbers became strained when the new generation of Intel products came out, but for most of the life of the Pentium 4 they were extremely generous to Intel's architecture. It's not just office applications -- go check benchmarks on Tom's, HardOCP, Ace's Hardware, and you'll see the AMD processor outperforming in a wide variety of benchmarks from games to high-performance scientific computing (the true number-crunching benchmarks), even including some media encoding benchmarks though Intel was very strong there and generally dominated.

        My point is that if what you're looking for is a singular number by which to compare performance, then there is no "truth" to be stretched. MHz is an actual measurable number, true, but to equate that number with performance is "stretching the truth" to a greater extent than taking an aggregate of a wide variety of benchmark scores and relating that to performance. Marketroids can and do manipulate which benchmarks are chosen, but at least the resulting number means something regarding the performance of those benchmarks. MHz, by itself, means essentially nothing for a cross-architecture comparison.

        So next time if you want to get the truth about performance, then the truth is that you have to measure the performance of the application you personally care about on the two processors in question. You can get an idea from reading reviews with benchmarks and looking at the results of similar applications (i.e. media encoding, or games, or what have you), but even that won't get you the real picture.
      • I call bullshit.

        The original Pentium 4 models were widely and famously known for the fact that their clockrate was vastly out of proportion to its real-world performance. I believe that clock-for-clock, a Pentium III performed 1.5 to 2x as fast as a Pentium 4. It is quite possibly, the least efficient CPU in terms of clock per performance ever to be manufactured.

        The early Pentium 4s were almost universally slower than the Pentium IIIs that they replaced.

        Likewise, only very specific types of "number crunch
  • Will they make it? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Eddy Luten (1166889)

    For the sake of competition, let's hope so, but it doesn't seem like it. The first Radeon card to support Direct3D 10 took way too long and their processors (both CPU and GPU) are all but impressive these days. Also, their CPUs' cost:performance ratio aren't what they used to be in the glory days which makes them less attractive.

    The FX-60 was in my opinion the last exceptional AMD processor to hit the market, both quality and innovation wise. After Core 2 Duo, AMD kind of hit the ground burning.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darien (180561)
      their processors (both CPU and GPU) are all but impressive these days

      The Phenom's a bit of a disappointment, and will probably remain so until/unless people start writing much more parallelisable code (until then, Intel's bigger L2 cache more than makes up for Phenom's "true" quad-core design). But AMD are fighting back on the GPU side - the HD 3870 X2 has had some great reviews, and in many games it's faster than an 8800 Ultra for sixty quid less.

      Of course, since Nvidia have just launched the 9600GT, we ma
  • by freedom_india (780002) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:42AM (#22543336) Homepage Journal
    Although AMD is not that advertised as Intel is, it continues to remain a solid product company.
    For instance the AMD Athlon X2 64-bit dual core chip i use, is quieter, less power hungry and more powerful than its intel-equivalent.

    I have always thought of Intel chips as a short, well-built sprinter, whose ting pegs can carry him over a short distance quickly but in the longer haul (marathon), it can keep up only by downing copious amounts of glucose fluids and sweats a lot.

    AMD is a picture of a tall (6.5 feet), lean, kenyan man, whose stamina, endurance make him take the 15 mile marathon easily without breaking a sweat.

    AMD would be either bought over by IBM or even by Microsoft.
    • Re:Don't think so. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bender_ (179208) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:00AM (#22543450) Journal
      In the past, AMD had an architecture advantage over Intel and Intel had a slight process technology advantage.

      Now the situation is different:

      -Since the introduction of the Core 2 Duo Intel has the better architecture (minus memory controller though).
      -Intel is smoking the rest of the industry with 45nm high-k/metal gate in therms of process technology. Compared to what has been published by IBM about their hkmg technology IBM/AMD has a long way to go to catch up.

      And let me say this: Intels technology is extremely clever, they did one fundamentally different thing (gate first) against conventional wisdom which took them onto an entirely different path. Getting the fundamental flaws out of this approach enables a flurry of additional optimizations that IBM/AMD will not be able to apply in their technology. (full metal gates, not using any exotic materials for the gate)

      The only disadvantage for intel could be higher cost/lower yield associated with the hkmg process. However they have the benefit of scale (in therms of volume) on their side. In addition they went go through the painful hkmg transition two years earlier and hence things will be much easier for them at the 32nm node. IBM/AMD will be in even more trouble than they are now. I predict that Intel will have a very quick 32nm ramp around the time IBM/AMD managed to get their 45nm hkmg process to manufacturable yield.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I find your post vaguely homo-erotic and a bit disturbing. Please don't do that again.
    • Re:Don't think so. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by steevc (54110) on Monday February 25, 2008 @05:17AM (#22543760) Homepage Journal

      For instance the AMD Athlon X2 64-bit dual core chip i use, is quieter, less power hungry and more powerful than its intel-equivalent.
      I thought all chips were pretty much silent. It tends to be the cooling fan that makes the noise, but using less power should allow for a quieter fan.

      I've used several AMD processors (couple of Durons and now an Athlon X2). I chose them on a value for money basis. I never buy the fastest chips that command a heavy price premium, so the arguments over who has the top chip of the moment are irrelevant to me. I considered an Intel for my current PC, but the price difference was minimal and I know the AMD-based chipsets a bit better so I knew it should work for me. I do like to support the underdog, but not if it exceeds my budget.

      Even in the last few years I have met people who consider AMD to be inferior or less reliable than Intel chips. Intel's marketing millions must be doing something for them, but I find their jingle intensely annoying when it crops up in the middle of an ad.
  • by kingmetal (1245586) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:43AM (#22543346)
    I hope that AMD soon becomes the darling of the community once again, it's because of them that I recently got back into PC gaming. I had totally given up on gaming on the PC, I had bought a gen1 X2 4200 and AM2 motherboard right before the Core 2 Duos came out and I was cursing my bad luck ever since - until I realized that the real holdup in my system wasn't the processor, but my aging 6600GT. In fact, even though I had bought my AM2-based system almost 2 years ago (or longer! I can't remember when the platform launched) I still had a fairly recent system that could actually support even the newest AMD chips. The real kicker came when I bought my Ati Radeon HD3850. This thing, in my oppinion, should be getting just as much press as the 8800GT. For someone like me, spending $180 on a graphics card is a whole lot more reasonable than spending $250+ on an 8800GT just for performance gains in games like Crysis. My housemate dropped over $1000 on a new Intel Quad-core based rig with an 8800GT in it and my system keeps pace with his very well under almost all scenarios. There is a difference, sure, but considering my entire rig probably cost less than $500 (exluding monitor), I'd say I'm doing pretty well. AMD is doing a great job at catering to people like me who were about to be console-only gamers because keeping up to date on the PC side was getting expensive. AMD offers an affordable upgrade path at a lower performance point - but it's good enough to make my Xbox 360 jealous! I'm proud to say that I'm still an AMD fan. Will an X2 5000+ Black Edition beat a comparably clocked Core 2 Duo? No! But look at the price! I'd say the price to performance ratio is way up there!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrxak (727974)
      I've been wondering where all the AMD fanboys went off to lately. I used to see a lot of people railing against Intel and hailing AMD as the greatest company ever. But now it seems the only time I ever hear about AMD is when folks talk about ATI graphics cards.
      • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday February 25, 2008 @09:14AM (#22545090)
        Back in the Netburst era, you didn't HAVE to be an AMD fanboy to know that the Pentium 4 totally sucked in every meaningful way compared to anything by AMD. Now that Intel's rejoined the rest of the sane universe, it's not as clear-cut anymore. They're still (usually) a little cheaper than Intel, but it's harder to draw a clear line between them and definitively say one is better than the other. Personally, I still tend to favor AMD, but if I were shopping for a notebook and one with core2duo happened to be massively on sale that particular week, I wouldn't avoid it like the black death the way I WOULD have bent over backwards to avoid the wretched quasi-mobile version of the Pentium 4.
  • Slow/quick end.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fallen Kell (165468) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:45AM (#22543352)
    Well, I am sorry to say it, but AMD is dying at this moment. Their purchase of ATI was disastrous for them and probably the worst move they have ever made. While "good on paper", the reality of it was that AMD was over-sold on the merits of ATI's then just about to be in production GPU from 2 years ago, and its in development (the current generation GPUs that they have now 3870/3850). As we still see today, even this current generation of GPU's from AMD can not outperform Nvidia's last generation 8800 series, even with 1.5 years time to reach that level of performance. This have seriously damaged their ability to be profitable in the video card segment as they have had to price their cards much lower than Nvidia to be even considered from a prospective customer. This is the same battle they are fighting on their CPU side as well ever since Intel released the Core Duo (and the subsequent Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Duo Extreme, Quad Core, and Quad Extreme processors). Basically, on the mid and high end desktop market, AMD has had no real competing product for about 1-2 years, and again, have to settle on pricing against the comparable performance Intel CPU. Intel gets to use the production line chips that fail to meet full speed for slower binned parts which in many cases still outperform AMD's fastest performing part. This is allowing Intel to keep their costs lower, and forcing AMD to slowly bleed to death because they can not afford to price their chips that low. And the high debt AMD incurred on the ATI purchase has been keeping them from doing what they have done in the past when they had a poorer performing chip, i.e. cut costs, bunker down, and increase development dollars on the next gen that was in progress to push up the release date of the new architecture. However, the lack of cash on hand is making that last part impossible to do. And early indications are not looking good even for this current line of quad cores and tri-cores. Basically, these chips still can not get near the performance of the current high end Intel chips.
    • by rucs_hack (784150) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:31AM (#22543558)
      Excellent points sir.
      I should like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a friend of mine. ... ...
      The Paragraph break.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by n3tcat (664243)
      Everyone looks at the high end market to get the temperature of a video card company. It's really the worst place to look, as the embedded video and cards packaged with desktop sales seem to be the real force behind the company's profit. ATI losing ground to the nforce and intel embedded video market (cutting into their Rage cards and similar) are probably what made ATI affordable for AMD in the first place. Unfortunately this also meant that they were still on the downslope and AMD would be taking losses f
  • I wish the Phenom turned out better than it did (like came out sooner and was faster and cheaper). I think AMD has a few more shots at recovering from Intel's brutal one-two-three punch of Core series and 65nm (AMD didn't get this until way late) and affordable Quads (phenom took way too long).

    Now AMD will always be around, but maybe not in a big way in the future. VIA releases new x86 chips every one in a while. And they actually make money on what they do. But there is little mainstream interest in VIA's
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:45AM (#22543360) Homepage Journal
    They have shown that they can make Intel jump to their tune (64 bit CPUs anyone?), they just bought ATI and are thus in a position to better integrate CPUs and GPUs (for better performance), which is something that I'm sure a few hard core gamers might be interested in. They still have a strong research arm. And if nothing else, they can always go back to building cheaper Intel knock-offs which is (I believe) where they started.

    • by Ihlosi (895663) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:03AM (#22543470)
      they just bought ATI and are thus in a position to better integrate CPUs and GPUs (for lower price), which is something that I'm sure the mass market might be interested in.

      Fixed that for you. Anyway, the mass market is where the money is. Pandering to gamers is more of a prestige thing, 90-something percent of the PC buyers don't care about that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BarneyL (578636)

      They have shown that they can make Intel jump to their tune (64 bit CPUs anyone?)
      Unfortunately while jumping to their tune, Intel landed on AMD almost completely obsuring it.
  • by MrMr (219533) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:04AM (#22543472)
    Long ago, FUD was the bread and butter of the IBM consultant, what's new?
  • by that_itch_kid (1155313) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:07AM (#22543482)
    I'll admit I don't know much about the matter, but they seem to be fairly Free Software friendly, in terms of their releasing of documentation for both their CPUs and the ATI GPUs.

    Does anyone have any detailed information on this? Perhaps the Free Software community can support AMD's openness by buying AMD hardware, *and letting them know this is the reason*.
  • by this great guy (922511) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:18AM (#22543524)
    It is interesting to note that this article is dated February 17, 2003. In other words IBM made this prediction literally 2 months before AMD introduced their first 64-bit processors, the Opteron, in April 2003. Little did they know the impact the AMD64 architecture would have on the industry (Intel cloned the architecture) and on AMD itself (it helped them stay afloat for the past 5 years).
  • by vistic (556838) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:35AM (#22543580)
    ... when I deliberately switched to Mac.

    Before I switched to using Macs, I would always build my own PC's from components, and I always chose an AMD processor (starting with the 450 MHz AMD K6-III).

    Until Macs start coming with AMD chips, I doubt I'll buy another one any time soon.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:43AM (#22543604) Journal
    Whoa, one thing at a time — let's see off BSD first, OK?
  • by NerveGas (168686) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:51AM (#22543642)
    I've built a very good number of machines for people lately with Abit micro-ATX boards, with built-in graphics (d-sub and DVI). Throw in a 2.4 GHz X2 and 4 gigs of memory, a hard drive, and a burner, and the hardware comes to something like $300. Good, fast, and CHEAP.

        One of the offices was broken into lately, and the thieves bypassed the "wimpy" micro-ATX cases and stole big, heavy machines... which happened to be older, slower stuff.
  • by siyavash (677724) on Monday February 25, 2008 @05:03AM (#22543696) Journal
    Let us all hope they don't die, I'm almost an Intel fanboy but my god if AMD dies! Intel would rape us all. Competition is always healthy. I think AMD has good low priced CPUs though and they sure do the job.
  • Token competitor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by benesch (747215) on Monday February 25, 2008 @05:07AM (#22543708)
    What's better for Intel: to be charged for being a monopolist by the competition authorities or having an ineffective token competitor? Thus: Intel will keep AMD in business.
  • by BlueTrin (683373) on Monday February 25, 2008 @05:08AM (#22543712) Homepage Journal

    Will AMD still be here in 5 years?
    Can they pose a credible competitive threat to Intel's dominance?
    Do they still have superior but unappreciated technology?
    Or are they finally old hat? Can they really recover?


    You will get the answers to these question and plenty of others in the next episode, released starting from 2013.
  • by obstalesgone (1231810) on Monday February 25, 2008 @06:18AM (#22544012) Homepage
    Ironic that IBM isn't manufacturing popular CPU's anymore.
  • by icckleblackcat (1245794) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:04AM (#22544500)

    The simple fact that one of the biggest differences is made by having a multi-core processor when running modern Operating systems rather than raw processor speed should yield one obvious comment:

    The cheapest Dual-Core processors I can quickly find :

    • Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 S775 2.2GHz 2mb Cache 800FSB: £77.99
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200 AM2 2.2GHz: £45.04

    The performance is within a hairs breadth of each other... and yes, when coupled with a modest graphics card they both do just fine in all but the latest bleeding-edge 3D games.

    In other words, for normal home or business computing with light to moderate gaming - there is an obvious choice. Even with more demanding gaming, thats £30 more to throw at your graphics card which will make far more difference - or £30 more memory (2 GB !!!).

    With this sort of thing going for them, and the higher-end really matching Intel in the price/performance stakes I suspect theres life there yet... quite a bit of it.

    As far as graphics goes, everyone is happy to compare ATI with nVidia - but the only choice when it comes to on-chip graphics is not "ATI v nVidia" but "ATI v Intel"... you have looked at Intel graphics lately right ?

  • by t35t0r (751958) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:25AM (#22544640)
    http://www.microway.com/8wayopteron.html [microway.com]

    http://hpcsystems.com/AMDQuadOpteron_A5808-32.htm [hpcsystems.com]

    where you at Intel (IA64 doesn't count)?
  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@@@gmail...com> on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:19PM (#22548402) Homepage Journal
    For most people, is the performance difference really that important? Maybe for uber-power users and gamers, but not the majority of people, even geeks.

    Meanwhile, the motherboards that support AMD Phenom's are superior to and cheaper than motherboards for Intel Quad-cores. Gigabit motherboards offer up to 16GB of RAM; it also offers 2 x16 PCI-e slots and 3 x1 PCI-e slots, as well as 2 PCI slots; the Gigabit GA-790FX-DQ6 is around $200 for that. This motherboard has around a 4- to 5-star rating from numerous reviewers.

    Some of the MSI motherboards offer 8GB and 4 x16 or x8 PCI-e slots, along with 1 x1 PCI-e slot, and 2 older PCI slots: that's 7 total. This one's for around $160. This board has a 5-star rating from numerous reviewers (on NegEgg). It also has an award for best motherboard in terms of quality.

    Meanwhile, the only Intel motherboards for their non-server Quad-cores that go up to 16GB are by A-bit, a poor brand, and those motherboards have comparably poor reviews from NewEgg.com.

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