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AMD-Intel ‘big willy’ boasts backfire

Megahurts madness badly rebounds

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Computer and chip journalists found themselves the unwilling pawns of the PR wings of both AMD and Intel throughout this year and the end of last, but it looks like their boastful claims have cost the industry dearly.

Throughout the year, Chipzilla and Chimpzilla each beat their hirsute chests, and month after month leapfrogged each other, saying 'my chip is faster than yours'. That sometimes boosted their share price, and certainly generated huge column inches of newsprint.

But consumers seem to have concluded, as the boastful twosome carried on this witless game, and slashed their prices to boot, that they didn't really care about the extra megahurts that much.

As we reported here yesterday, AMD said that its sales figures for its microprocessors would not be as good as it had confidently forecast earlier in the year. That followed an earlier profit warning by Intel the week before.

The net result of the AMD-Intel megahurts madness appears to have been that PC manufacturers too have been hit by the 'mine's bigger than yours' malaise.

One European manufacturer, who sells PCs using microprocessors from both the primates, told The Register: "Q3 and Q4 2000 have been very slow in the consumer segment. I think the new processor speed every six weeks that we saw together with the rapid reduction in prices, for example the AMD curve on 1GHz, which is pretty frightening, has put a lot of people off buying."

He said there was also a far bigger public awareness in 2000 of consumer devices such as domestic DVD players, MP3 players and mobile phones, with an estimated five million of the last expected to be sold in the run up to Yule 2000. "PlayStation 2 launched almost in line with the start of the decline in consumer demand," he added.

"This has diverted spend from PCs to these items. Given that for all but the high-end gamers, a PC of a year ago will still do everything they want perhaps we have finally reached the point that has been talked about for five to six years - there really is no need to change your system."

Neither he, nor a US manufacturer we contacted, think that the Pentium 4 - which Intel's CEO, Craig Barrett, dubbed the "king of the microprocessors" a week back, would save the situation.

"The extended multimedia instructions only benefit a tiny minority of gamesters," said the US manufacturer.

He compared Screaming Sindy II to the introduction of MMX instructions with Intel chips some years back, when there were few games that took advantage of the additional power.

The European PC maker added: "AMD has taken significant market share from Intel, especially in Europe. The business market is stronger but of course they haven't taken to AMD in the same way as consumers have.

"I guess the real difference is that AMD have had something to say and Intel have just been playing the old smoke and mirrors game until they have a product which is actually worth talking about - and that isn't the Pentium 4." ®

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