AMD fans fans' flames

Fans for the memory, Slot A...

Updated The lack of thermals - no, not Damart thermals* - in AMD boxed Athlon processors has drawn a flurry of emails from our beloved readers eager to put us right, put us wrong, or just put us down.

And meanwhile AMD has confirmed price cuts are on Socket A, and not Slot A parts, which will vanish completely during the rest of this year.

Last week we reported that AMD was advising members of its authorised channel to check out its Web site to ensure the right type of heat sinks and fans for its Thunderbird and Duron processors.

We reported one system integrator as saying that in his opinion the "Golden Orb" heatsink was too expensive - an opinion many of you were swift to rebut.

Jai Ketteridge, webmeister of Insane Hardware, had this to say:

"Hey man - there are alot of heatsinks available and I have found one that is very good and is AMD Authorised to 1GHz. The catch? It's very cheap! If a distro was to buy say 1000 units - it would cost them less than $3-4 US per sink with fan! Consumers would pay maybe $7 US at the most. I know here in Oz I can get them for $10 Aussie ones. The fan & heatsink is an AVC 112600."

Meanwhile, a fan overclocked his fanaticism with this e-missive: "The reason they get so bummed is because you people don't even try to hide your bias. Like the little ad you carried on your opening page for so long, advertising a non-existent Pentium 4. Just how much did you get paid for that little "news story"?"

It wasn't just a flame fest, however. One reader, JL, who doesn't want his email address published, said: "In all honesty, your points are valid. Sharky Extreme even points this out: 'We have a warning for AMD purchasers. The socketed Athlon and Duron CPUs have turned out to be rather fragile and some heat sinks can damage the CPU. AMD informed us that the mounting position of the AMD CPUs is slightly different and higher than that of the Intel socketed CPUs... [W]e ended up with both a dead Duron 700MHz and a dead Athlon Thunderbird 1GHz.'

"Fans are indeed a bit of a problem for AMD's CPUs. With the specs changing so frequently, I'm really not surprised. Thanks for posting an advance warning on these issues. Any AMD lover (who isn't offended by your article, heh :-) will greatly benefit by heeding the warning herein."

An Indian dealer, Suresh Kumar, wrote: "In my town i am the major dealer for AMD processor based system integration, we normally sell 40-60 machines in a month, now yes as you said a lot of my customers are complaining about the system hanging problems, even in the K6-II series as well as the Athlon series. Now with the help of The Register I came to know that there is a problem in the cooling sytems or fans.

"We have also tried lot of many other third party cooling fans but we are not satisfied with that, also here in India most people are selling only tray procesors. If I ask for the box processor from any distributors they are not able to answer my questions. There is no-one in India to provide the cooling fans. Once again we thank The Register and I hope I will get some news from AMD regarding the same problem."

More support from another reader for the Golden Orb solution, however: "Hello. Golden ORBS are neither expensive or overkill. I paid $12 US for mine. And you can get them anywhere. So there."

Another reader helpfully pointed us to the Duron thermal page, which you can find here. Our original link was to the Athlon thermal page.

"Techman" wrote: "I have a few things to say on this issue. I am a fan of AMD and currently have a slot A 700MHz Thunderbird in a Abit KA7-100 motherboard. Love it. However, that doesn't mean I am going to defend them when something is amiss to me. I frankly think the move to socket A is a bit pre-mature. At the least AMD should not be in such a rush to try and do away with slot A. It may cost more for them to make a slot A processor but it's going to even out when you consider the hell that is currently going on with the socket A/462 issue.

"After keeping up with this issue I am finding that I would rather stick with slot A processors. I've thoroughly figured out the issues as far as cooling is concerned not to mention thermistor placement that can cause your heatsink not to make a good connect to the heat plate.

"However, socket A processors do not present much of an area to apply cooling. Worse, too much pressure trying to get even the recommended heatsinks on will result in a dead processor. I really think AMD could have done better. In fact, I think they need to get a grip on reality at this point. I think they have forgotten that if it wasn't for their fans, they would not be at the point for which they are now. We might not be there for them again if they don't realize this.

"First they abandoned those who use Socket 7 without giving them a really good last upgrade such as a K6-3+ and kill the K6-3 which was driving the DIY market for socket 7, now they want to kill slot A and have us on socket A with its heatsink problems and fragile cores. Don't get me wrong, Athlons are great and perform very well and are pouncing equivalent Intel processors, however, AMD is creating problems and issues for those of us who really love and use their processors.

"Everyone is not made of money and someone has to buy those processors. Yes, they are selling everything they make right now but the honeymoon will be over one day. They should be mindful that they don't piss off the people that buy their processorss like Intel did.

To end this, we had a rather plaintive letter from a US reader who asked us if there would be price reductions on Slot A processors. He has a number of Slot A mobos just waiting for Slot A chips to slot in. The answer would appear to be no.

One OEM told us today that Slot A chips are now officially EOL (end of line), and that unless you have a special relationship with AMD, you might have some trouble getting the chips, never mind at a cheaper price.

You may remember that the move from Slot to Socket A was so swift that some big Taiwanese motherboard vendors -- such as Gigabyte -- found themselves with a surfeit of such Slot A mobos. They struck a deal with AMD.

AMD UK responded to our question about Slot A parts, saying: "The latest price move only applies to socket parts. Slot parts will be phased out during the third quarter of this year."

That position was amplified by another spokesperson for the company, based in Germany, who said this afternoon: "There is only one price list that applies to all AMD Athlon processors, no matter if classic Athlon, new AMD Athlon with performance enhancing cache memory and no matter if in Slot A or Socket A.

"Classic Slot A AMD Athlon processors will be available in Slot A through the 3rd quarter of this year.

"The new AMD Athlon processor is only available in Socket A package. We ship Slot A AMD Athlon only to OEMs that use the AMD-750 chipset.

"In general AMD's position is to seamlessly transit from the Slot A infrastructure to the Socket A infrastructure. The Socket A infrastructure is definitively the platform of the future." ®

*For info on Damart thermals, try here.

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