It seems that AMD might be in for a rough ride. A very rough ride.
Last week AMD announced their 4x4 A stock 2.4GHz Conroe can be overclocked to a whopping 4.0GHz, outperforming everything that AMD currently have, even the FX-62architecture that combined two dual-code CPUs and two dual-GPU graphics cards. I made a comment that I thought that this sounded an awful lot like a stop-gap announcement because AMD didn't have a product that could directly compete with the Intel Conroe. Well, it seems that even their stop-gap isn't going to last that long ...
Enthusiasts have taken pre-production Intel Conroe 2.4 GHz CPUs and overclocked them and the results are more than impressive, they're amazing. A stock 2.4GHz Conroe (E6600) can be overclocked to a whopping 4.0GHz, outperforming everything that AMD currently have, even the FX-62.
OK, you might say, but what happens when the FX-62 is overclocked? Surely that must give the Conroe a run for it's money? Afraid not. While it's possible to overclock the FX-62 up to around 3.6GHz, this takes some serious cooling to avoid stability issues, whereas it seems that the Conroe will only need to be water-cooled (don't try this with a standard air-cooled setup!). Want even more power still? Then take a 2.66GHz Conroe (E6700) and overclock to a whopping 4.26GHz!
What does mean? Well, it's seriously bad news for AMD. The FX-62 is a $1,000 CPU, and now Intel have a CPU (it is rumored that it will cost around $300 at launch) that basically makes it obsolete. It also makes 4x4 a moot point too - who is going to bother with a twin dual-core AMD setup when they can buy one low-cost CPU from Intel and overclock it to get far superior performance?
This power seems to be translating into results - the tests using Super Pi (a program which calculates the value of Pi to an incredibly high number of decimal digits) shows that the Conroe is nearly twice as fast as as an overclocked FX-62. Gaming performance is also superior to the FX-62 (the benchmark results for Far Cry are insane). And there figures aren't even for overclocked Conroes!
I know that a lot of AMD fans are going to find these figures hard to believe (I don't think that I'm going to truly believe them until I see it for myself) but there's little doubt in my mind that Intel is going to leapfrog ahead of AMD with these CPUs. The worse part for AMD is that there's little they can do about it until they get chips based on 65 nanometer out of the door, which will be towards the end of this year. Until then it seems that Intel has the field all to themselves. I'm left wondering how overclocking enthusiasts with a loyalty to AMD are going to react to this. Are we going to see hardcore AMD fans shifting to Intel (which I would imagine is what Intel are hoping for), or will they wait and see how AMD responds? IF thy're willing to wait, how long will they wait?
However, the real question though is this, how will AMD respond?