More than anything else, Computex 2003 has been about fierce competition. The main competitive focuses at this year’s Computex were the launches of high-end desktop processors from AMD and Intel; AMD’s Athlon 64 FX and Intel’s Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. You’ve no doubt seen dozens of CPU reviews across the Internet comparing and contrasting these two high-end microprocessors in an attempt to help readers make informed decisions for their computing needs. Hardware review web sites eat up anything Intel and AMD nowadays, and so this type of wide coverage is not at all uncommon.

A little background on the current CPU wars takes us back to 1999, when AMD launched their K7 (Athlon) architecture that sparked this “arms race” of sorts. Since then, both AMD and Intel have had more or less equal shares of the performance lead, with Intel taking the lead at the high-end the last 10 months or so, and AMD securing the low and middle-end channels during that time. A couple days ago, we saw AMD take back that performance lead from Intel. Now, the only question that remains is whether AMD can supply enough CPUs to channels and OEMs to meet demand. Given the large die size and relatively low yields of current Athlon 64 iterations over at Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany, AMD will no doubt have their hands full. Various manufacturers tell us that AMD is confident that they can produce 400,000 Athlon 64 processors by the end of this year. While certainly a step in the right direction, this quantity is barely enough to feed high-end customers and enthusiasts, and no where near enough to supply the mainstream markets.

The competition in the desktop video card world is equally fierce, as ATI and NVIDIA have been biting and gnawing at each other for years now. This graphics competition really started to brew when ATI introduced the Radeon 8500 in the fall of 2001. After the GeForce4 came along just a few months later, however, NVIDIA pretty much held a dominant lead in every segment of the add-in video card desktop market up until September 2002, when ATI’s Radeon 9700 Pro become readily available. ATI was easily the high-end desktop GPU leader after that, and right up until GeForce FX 5900 Ultras became available in late June of this year. It was a dead heat between NVIDIA and ATI after the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra introduction, but that ended a few weeks ago when the world learned of NVIDIA’s serious DX9 shortcomings in titles such as Half Life 2. This seemed to signal the beginning of the end of NVIDIA’s steady market share lead over the last year. However, just a few days ago it was announced by Valve that Half Life 2 was going to miss the September 30th target. In a way, ATI faces the exact opposite scenario that AMD is in; ATI can supply enough DX9 (9600 and 9800) video cards to market, but may not see an upsurge in those sales (mostly in the retail channel) in the near future because of Half Life 2’s delayed introduction. Of course, there are other legitimate DX9 titles coming soon that will spurn sales of ATI’s DX9 cards, and there even may be a great deal of users that figure they can simply buy ATI cards now and wait for Half Life 2 (which we suggest you do if you’re buying now). Either way, competition is a great boon for any industry, and we certainly hope it never stops.

Anyway, read on as we discuss the latest happenings in our Day 4 coverage of Computex….

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  • AgaBooga - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    I really hope XGI can show some performance, that will create more competition between themselves and the current two major players.

    The fact that the benchmark wasn't as well as what is expected, I'd like to see how the lower version perform because those ones are what they will sell the most of.

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