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Chipzilla risks humiliation with breakneck i820 launch

Old Mother Chipton foresees doom and despondency

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For a company which still likes to remind its employees of the FDIV flaw that caused early Pentia to lose their grip on mathematical reality, Chipzilla doesn't seem to learn (see Satan's little helpers get hammers out to i820 mobos). The knee-jerk reaction to early pressure at the low end from what Intel lovingly refers to as "imitators", resulted in the tragically-underpowered, cache-free Celeron being rushed to market. Had Chipzilla waited for the far superior Mendocino part, the precious Intel brand would have survived untarnished. Indeed, Intel was so paranoid about making Celeron II a success that it threw its entire marketing might behind the entry-level part to the extent that it became so popular that it took sales from the much higher margin Pentium II and put a sizeable dent in the bottom line. Now Chimpzilla has put the wind up Chipzilla's marketers with Athlon, it looks as if Intel is about to make the same old mistake of listening to its hysterical marketing folk rather than its engineers and take careful aim at its corporate foot again. Instead of taking a statesmanlike approach to the Camino glitch and doing a proper rework of the faulty i820 motherboards, Intel is again panicking and kludging together a fix which is no more sophisticated than pasting a sticker over the third Rambus slot that reads "Not To Be Used". The thinking (?) behind this move is to have Camino/Coppermine systems in the stores in time for Christmas, but who in their right mind is going to buy a motherboard that doesn't work properly? Surely even Intel marketeers aren't that stupid. The correct response to Camino's problems is to let the engineers put things right and launch a fully-working product in early 2000, but don'tcha just know in your heart that Intel will release the 820 while it still doesn't work properly? The problem with Intel stems from having had things its own way for too long. Ask any Intel insider what's wrong with the company and eventually he or she will say something about it being too inward-facing. In plain terms this means Intel cares more about what happens inside Intel than in the real world. Due to its near-monopolistic marketshare, the company has never needed to bother about the little people outside the ivory tower. Until now. With AMD apparently fixing its legendary inability to actually produce enough working chips -- at both the low and high end -- Intel actually has a real rival at last. How it reacts over the next few months will have a real impact on how the industry shakes out in the future: if Intel listens to its engineers it will steadily rebuild market share and dominate the market for the foreseeable future. If Intel listens instead to the people wearing red braces and white socks,the FDIV will really hit the fan. Intel's users and OEMs will not stand for another Pentium flaw, underpowered Celeron, or cobbled-together chipset. ®

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