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1GHz nub of Intel, AMD, Compaq question next year

The Knaresborough seeress hedges her bets

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Well, my lovelies, if the world still exists tomorrow morning, you can be sure that the question occupying most people's minds will be which chip company will be first to market with a 1GHz processor. My runes show, unquestionably, that Advanced Micro Devices, headed up by that nice Jerry Sanders III, will definitely be the first, with .18 micron Athlons already available and copper interconnect technology in the works. The next company to deliver a 1GHz processor is likely to be Compaq, with an air cooled Alpha appearing in June or July of next year, if there is a next year. And then Intel will manage by some miracle to produce a 1GHz IA-32 processor soon after that. I predict that we will see something of a change in Intel's marketing and we may well be invited not to take clock speeds quite as seriously as before. Prices Intel will get into its stride early next year, if there is a next year, with some price cuts and rationalisations of its Pentium III lines. It will hang onto its famous disappearing BX chipset for far longer than any ever anticipated, and will also start its year by telling the world just how good PC-133 and double data rate (DDR) memory is. It will cut, cut and cut prices again, believing that as it ramps up its Coppermine technology, many PC manufacturers will want to bite the Intel bullet simply because of the extra margins and high availability of the parts when the ramp starts. AMD will keep its prices on Athlons as high as it can, for as long as it can, while it has a fair wind behind it, simply because of the additional margins that are needed to make it a company that makes a profit. Compaq, with Alpha, will keep its prices pretty high, as it now does not seem to believe that it can compete in the high volume biz with its 64-bit chip. Via, the Taiwanese contender, said recently that it will sell 15 million processors over the next year. This is not a huge amount of chips but more than enough to nibble away at Intel's margins and to induce that familiar feeling of paranoia at Emission Boulevard, Satan Clara. Notebooks Intel believes that its mobile technology on notebooks is better than the world+dog, and will intro its Geyserville (SpeedStep) technology just as soon as it can, along with high speed mobile Coppermines. Like the desktop parts, these will be in short supply at first but as the factories go into overload, they will be available a-plenty. AMD, too, has a similar cunning plan to Geyserville but is unlikely to make too many inroads into Intel's market share during 2000, because it has so much more catching up to do. Compaq has few if any plans to incorporate Alphas into notebooks, although when Digital owned the processor, it had plenty of plans along these lines. Intel, I believe, has also many a cunning plan to use its ARM technology to take market share and to strike deals where and when necessary. 64-bit processors While Alpha still is the cock, a-crowing on the 64-bit dunghill, Intel will indeed succeed in showing the world its Merced Itanium in systems, and while many large companies will try out these boxes, there will not be Intel IA64 volume next year. AMD is a tad behind with its Sledgehammer system, my tealeaves tell me, and has lost a number of its key executives when Atiq Raza decided he'd had enough of the company and all of its works and trumps. We will hear so much about out of order execution, big endians and little endians that we will wonder why our heads are a-reeling with all of these terms when all we want is a faster and faster chip that performs better and better when Quake IV is released. Finally my lovelies, I must insist that reports in The Register that I ever said the world was to end in 1999 were a gross misrepresentation of my views, and taking my views totally and completely out of context, that is if the world doesn't end at the witching hour tonight. If it does end in the year 1999, then all I can say is that's what I said would happen... Happy new year! ® See also Mother Shipton discredited by Intel

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