AMD to Intel: 'Thanks for the marketing boost'
Summertime showdown looms
When Intel unveiled its new line of 2nd Generation Intel Core processors (née Sandy Bridge) at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, Chipzilla's prime rival AMD felt a level of happiness akin to that of a certain tasty bivalve.
"We were pleasantly surprised at CES," the general manager of AMD's product group Rick Bergman told analysts and reporters during a conference call after his company announced its latest financial results.
"Prior to CES there were claims of discrete-level graphics performance and that type of capability. Obviously, as the details were unrolled and real benchmarks were run on real applications, [Intel's new chip line] fell well short of what we would offer in discrete graphics capabilities."
Bergman also thanked Intel for emphasizing their new chips' graphics and video capabilities. "The market is telling us – and even our competitor was stating – how important graphics and video is now for consumers," he said.
Echoing what an Intel spokesman told The Reg at CES about a "phenomenal experience" being the key to consumer success, Bergman continued: "That's really what all of us consumers care about, that video or graphics display. So we're not wavering from that message – that is, when you buy a new notebook or desktop, that should be top priority on your list: your experience."
From Bergman's point of view, it seems, Intel is doing some of AMD's marketing for them. "We're thrilled about the increased attention towards the GPU and video capabilities of PCs," he said. "Because at the end of the day, AMD wins whether it's a Fusion processor or a discrete GPU."
Bergman and his boss, chief financial officer and interim chief executive Thomas Seifert, were both bullish – to use Seifert's term – on AMD's upcoming Fusion processor for desktops and performance notebooks, Llano.
"As we look forward with Llano," Bergman said, "we're real excited, because our value proposition will really shine through. We'll show the world what GPU performance and capabilities mean with Llano, and it will be much higher performance than what you're seeing out there from our competition in that area."
Seifert agreed. "I think you can...hear the excitement we feel for [Llano] and the momentum we have generated. So we feel confident to gain significant market share in this segment with this platform."
To Seifert as well, it's all about "experience", not feeds and speeds. "We are moving into an environment where people do not buy processor frequency anymore, but look at what capability the products deliver. I think we have demonstrated now with our launch of the Brazos platform at CES what kind of a experience we can deliver in this form factor – and we are really looking forward to the Llano launch in summer."
As GPUs migrate onto the same silicon alongside CPU cores, the sharp dividing line between the two begins to blur – but the GPU brings with it the harsh compeition that has always characterized the graphics arena.
"I've been in the GPU business for a long time," Bergman said, "and there's always a tough, competitive market."
However, like his boss, Bergman is confident. "I don't think anybody is better positioned than we are in the GPU market," he said. ®
The type of graphics we would ship?
Ok, AMD spends all their time bashing the competition. Intel spends their time shipping products and competing primarily against themselves. Sure, Intel does their share of trash talking AMD, but it's not based on "What we're shipping tomorrow", but instead based on "What we're shipping today". They save the real childish trash talk for real competition like NVidia.
I have purchased for my own use in the order of 150 x85 CPUs during my life. 80% Intel, 8% or so Motorola, 1 cyrix, 1 via, 1 national, the rest AMD.
The reasons are :
1) If their stuff was that good, it wouldn't be in the bargain bin
2) I can't figure out what model does what. I recently (2 years ago) bought 2 HTPC computers for the house only to find that the x1250 chips which shipped in them can't play BluRay streams. Why? Because they had MPEG-2 acceleration, VC-1 acceleration, but no H.264 acceleration. Took 2 hours googling to find that out because it seems AMD wants to pretend like old products don't exist... even if they're still shippin.
3) I can't figure out their sockets. Intel is easy. If the chip physically fits in the socket, it pretty much works in it. AMD, you have to find out which generation of chipset and such you need to make it work. Of course, pretty much everything will work in pretty much everything, but you need to dig DEEP to find out whether you'll take a 50% performance hit because the processor is in the wrong socket.
4) AMD sucks at developers. If they want people to take their stuff seriously, they should assemble a set of tools that integrate well into Visual Studio that produce good code with a profiler where you can count cycles.
AMD, I don't care if you're 400% faster than Intel, I don't care if you're 1000% faster than nVidia, what I care about is whether you care about me as a customer.
Stop playing this stupid "We're gonna beat Intel at their own game" crap and focus instead on teaching us about your products so we can buy the right ones. Who cares how you're doing against the company that's big enough to buy you with the money they lose because of rounding errors in a month. What have you done lately and how can I benefit from it. Will you still love me even after you get my money?
Please, please give us some press, I'll say that an integrated GPU can't beat a 400$ discrete one, after all journalist like a fight, right?
AMD AM#(+) sockets
"AMD, you have to find out which generation of chipset and such you need to make it work"
While it is true that different chipset generations offer varying capabilities for the motherboard (number of SATA ports, USB3 support, PCIe lanes, etc) the socket is really a lot like Intel's. You have a AM3 CPU? Buy a mobo with an AM3 socket. Already got an AMD mobo? AM2?, AM2+? Your AM3 CPU will work in it. The new CPUs are socket downgradable. Of course, don't expect you'll get full AM3+ capability out of an AM2 motherboard, but in 6 months when all the SATA ports are SATA3, and most of the USB is USB3, or perhaps when PCIe v3.0 comes out, you can worry about upgrading to that new AM3 socket to match your processor's capability.
On the flipside of the coin, the new Sandy Bridge dropped one pin down to 1155, making the new chip incompatible with the previous 1156 boards (even though ASRock has a board that sidesteps this minor setback). In Q4 when the X67 chipset comes out, that will have LGA-2011, so another socket again.... Likely they'll make another new socket with their next "Tick" as well.
That said, AMD has a good example of how backwards socket compatibility is achieveable, however, as new features become available (such as DDR3) it becomes harder NOT to change sockets. I applaud AMD in this regard in at least maintaining that backward compability. However, Intel chips do outperform AMD offerings in the top 25% performance market, even though the 1090T is a mighty tempting offering, except that the i7-2600K smokes it once OCed to the 4.4+GHz range. AMD needs to strike back with tangible performance increases, not core count. They have 16-core chips. Good stop there for now and work on the microarchitecture.
Sandy Bridge vs Llano ?
Can't wait to see the tests - but perhaps both Intel and AMD would be advised to keep at least half an eye on the ARM boys while they're wrestling with each other. In any event, as a consumer, it's nice to have a choice !...
Three words not usually seen without shit in the same sentence.