How AMD plans to counter the Intel Conroe?

Summary:If you're thinking of buying or building a new AMD-based PC, then by waiting a few weeks you might pick up some really good bargains.

If you're thinking of buying or building a new AMD-based PC, then by waiting a few weeks you might pick up some really good bargains.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about the amazing performance results that were appearing for the pre-production Intel Conroe CPUs.  While these results seemed genuine at the time (and continue to look that way), I'm willing to accept that there is a possibility that since these tests are based on pre-production models I can't help but feel that AMD is leaving the price cuts too late that there could be differences with the final release.  I'm also willing to accept that these results could be flawed, contain errors or even be faked (again, I need to add that I really don't think that they are).  If these results are indicative of the sort of performance that can be expected from Intel's new CPU, then I predicted that AMD could be in for a rough ride and that their 4x4 stop gap wasn’t going to  be enough to keep Intel from stealing the lead from them.

Let's just for sake of argument assume that these figures for the Intel Conroe CPU are an accurate representation of the kind of power that the production models will be able to output (let's assume a variance in the range of +5%/-10%).  Given that AMD's Athlon 64 Revision G CPUs which are based on 65nm architecture aren't going to be out until December, what could AMD do in the interim to prevent an exodus over to Intel and the Conroe CPU? 

One obvious answer is to drop prices, and according to a number of leaked reports appearing on the web over the weekend, this is exactly what AMD plans on doing.  When would be the best time for them to do this?  It seems that AMD is gambling on July 24th, the day after Intel launches Conroe.

According to the leaked reports, AMD fans can expect to pick up some serious bargains:

  • Athlon 64 CPU prices cut by up to 30%
  • Athlon 64 X2 CPU prices cut by up to a massive 50%
  • Sempron CPU prices cut by up to 15%

No mention of any price drop for the FX or Opteron range of CPUs.

Add to these price cuts the fact that Intel is also cutting the prices of Pentium D and Pentium 4 CPUs, and one thing is guaranteed - customers on both sides of the processor fence will benefit.

However, I can't help but feel that AMD is leaving the price cuts too late.  I'm surprised they don't announce any price cuts now, while the X2 actually holds an advantage over Intel.  Right now the difference would be between getting a bargain on an AMD chip that has a lead over Intel verses waiting 6 weeks for Conroe (or maybe more - I expect that Conroe CPUs will be hard to come by initially).  Once Conroe is out then while this price slash is still sweet for those looking for a bargain, those looking for the best performance will be more likely to buy Intel.

While the effect that Conroe has on the CPU market is going to beWhat's good for the consumer isn't necessarily good for the corporation's bottom line interesting, it's also going to be interesting to see how Revision G plays out for AMD.  I'd love to see what an AMD X2 based on 65nm technology with 4MB of cache could be capable of.  It could well be a Conroe-beater.  However, Intel is now looking towards chips based on 45nm technology, which could give then a lead over AMD for some years.

Another factor worth considering is that what's good for the consumer isn't necessarily good for the corporation's bottom line.  While both AMD and Intel are big corporations with stacks of cash behind them, Intel has a lot more cash and could sustain a longer and more aggressive price war than AMD could.  This alone could be a critical factor in who wins when AMD release the Revision G CPUs in December and Intel is again forced to respond.

Topics: Processors

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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