How AMD plans to counter the Intel Conroe?

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.

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TOPICS: Processors
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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.

Topic: Processors

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10 comments
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  • Honestly, I think AMD is in trouble.

    I may be wrong so lets wait and see.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • They have been in "trouble" before

      Intel has beat down AMD time and time again. AMD has always come back. Each time AMD makes a come back they are stronger than before.

      I imagine if Conroe performs as claimed AMD will loose some ground. They always do. With AMD's history this just means they will come back stronger next time.
      dragosani
      • Healthy competition

        I'm pretty fluid in my choice of brands ... I go for what suits my needs best. This kind of healthy competition is great!
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • I love Healthy Competition

          Competition in the technology market is the best example of how companies that compete will improve the quality and price of the components we buy. If they didn't we'd end up with something like what we've got in Windows, a dead OS with little need to improve drastically in both function and speed.

          AMD will come back, and as usual there is no time frame for the return. Just be aware that it will be good. Very good. Who wins? We do, that's who.
          Narg
    • It's a cyclical thing

      Two years ago, AMD had Intel on the ropes with their new amd64 chips. Two years before that, Intel had a vice grip on the GHz war. Two years before that AMD was proving they were almost as good as Intel at less than half the cost with their Athlons. Two years before that nobody in their right mind would buy AMD, not with those rock solid Pentium II's and 440BX chipset mobo's out there (I still have a couple of those running some less demanding applications).

      I think the cycle will hold. But of course I could be wrong too.
      Michael Kelly
      • You're right ...

        That two year cycle is pretty locked into the equation.
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Which market?

    If you're talking about commodity desktops, it's been a cost-dominated environment for a long time and, frankly, AMD doesn't have the capacity to serve more than a fraction of the market.

    If you're talking about notebooks, the name of the game is battery life. Intel's Pentium M has owned that market for years and there isn't much changing.

    If you're talking about the bleeding-edge gamers, it's not a major market for anything other than prestige.

    Four-way and above servers are, on the other hand, AMD's because Intel simply doesn't scale. Not enough memory handling there and until Intel comes up with a replacement for their front-side-bus architecture they [b]won't[/b] have anything to offer.

    Two-way servers are closer. I expect that will be the battleground for the next year or so. To the extent that the application requires lots of memory, expect AMD to do well.

    Also keep in mind that only designers with death wishes bet the farm on a brand-new processor architecture with brand-new support logic that they've never seen this late in the year. The chips that will be on sale in December have already been designed in.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Intel no "morals"

    "quote" from article....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). ......Personally i think they are flawded just like the other test Intel ran on a previous chip. They have become like M$ ruthless & with no "morals". Hail Hail to AMD. I personally have never bought a Intel since the 486. So this tells you where my money is & betting. Imagine 4 MB of cache. Everyone forgets they (AMD) have 2 or 3 fabs & more being built so they arent to shabby. Give AMD a brake for pushing out the best of the best lately.....
    gdude@...
  • AMD thought they've won.Think again.

    AMD prices is just plain ridicilous. PentiumD CONROE - Cheaper and powerful.
    dinho9
  • Leapfrog. Well, almost.

    One day Intel's the leaper, the next day, they're the frog. This is great for the end-user, because each hop is usually accompanied by price cuts. Only problem is, AMD leaps a little farther each time. While AMD's share is still relatively small in a market dominated by two manufacturers, they have done well. Remarkably well. Especially considering the head-start that Intel had. Kudos to AMD. If both companies had begun production at the same time, hmmm...
    Pegasus1