In an interview Thursday, Michael Dell spoke of fragility within "the AMD environment" that could undermine the integrity of his company's brand. Speaking specifically about the work his engineers had done with the Athlon processor, Dell said reliability was utmost on his mind and that his customers demanded reliable systems. AMD, he said, could not offer that reliability.
Keith Diefendorff, Editor in Chief of the internationally renowned Microprocessor Report, told ZDNet Thursday night that as far as he was aware there were "no concerns about compatibility with the Athlon" that he had heard of, but he knew there were concerns over the chipsets for the Athlon range. "The chipset thing is AMD's biggest issue" said Diefendorff, "although they don't see it that way.
"The problem for AMD is that the PC industry is changing: new memory systems, new techniques etc. and Intel has a lot of people working to design the latest and best chipsets and, more importantly, it comes out with lots of designs. With AMD there is a limited choice."
Asked whether he thought Dell's comments would have a negative affect on AMD's perception in the PC arena he said: "Actually no, I don't. However I do think it illustrates clearly a point about AMD and the problems it has faced in the past. AMD has always had a very hard time breaking into the corporate arena... And that has a lot to do with Intel's position in this market: it's big, it's able to deal with problems better in the minds of the corporates. I think what's important here is that AMD continues to deliver products that are good and reliable." Diefendorff recently awarded AMD's Athlon with the prestigious MDR microprocessor of the year award.
AMD's Northern European marketing manager, Richard Baker scoffed at Dell's comments saying every other top ten manufacturer has been successful with the Athlon processor and that incompatibility or fragility had never been a problem for the chip. "The part (Athlon processor) has and continues to be tested by Microsoft and every other software vendor. Dell is currently not one of our customers and as such does not enjoy the level of support we offer our partners."
A follow up article dealing with chipsets used with the Athlon, plus an exclusive look at AMD's 850MHz Athlon processor will follow shortly