First Tunisia, then Tahoe?

As a slightly off-topic but important sidenote, I thought it would be appropriate to let everyone know how AMD wanted this review to happen, and how certain folks within AMD were champions for the right cause and made it actually happen.

AMD knew it wouldn't be able to trounce Core 2 with Phenom, especially not at 2.3GHz, so it wanted to control the benchmarking that was done on Phenom. For the first time in as far as I can remember, AMD wanted all benchmarking on Phenom to be done at a location in Tahoe, of course on AMD's dime. AMD would fly us out there, we would spend a couple of days with a pre-configured system and we'd head home to write our stories.

Now I championed for this sort of early-access to Phenom months ago. I've visited AMD alone three times this year primarily to talk about Phenom, and each time I left without being able to report so much as a single benchmark to you all (everyone remembers those articles right?). I tried and tried to get AMD to part with some early Phenom data, because they were losing the confidence of their fan base and that's a sad thing to see for a company that really took care of this community when we needed it most.

After Tahoe AMD would eventually sample Phenom parts so we could test in our own labs, but there was no word on exactly when that would be. Chances are you would've seen a handful of numbers here today if we had gone to Tahoe with a full review of the chip hitting sometime in December.

Needless to say, I wasn't happy. I refused to go to Tahoe.

Don't get me wrong, a free trip to Tahoe is a wonderful thing, but Phenom deserved better. It deserved dedicated testing, it deserved a thorough review, not a quick glance over a couple of days. And I had a feeling that you all would agree. The time for AMD-sanctioned testing expired months ago, if Phenom was launching this week, we were going to have a proper review of it.

These days, AMD seems to be learning a little too much from the ATI way of doing things. If AMD had its way, today's Phenom review would have been done from beautful Lake Tahoe, on a system that AMD built, running at a frequency that isn't launching. Now there's nothing wrong with allowing us to preview Phenom under closed conditions, after all, Intel does it, but that's simply not acceptable for a review of a product that's four days away from being in stores. You all want to see a thorough review of Phenom, not some half-assed preview, definitely not after waiting this long for it.

An AMD rep, familiar with the Tahoe trip, asked me, somewhat surprised, "what, Intel doesn't work like this?".

Sorry to say, Intel doesn't. Today Intel let us preview the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 processor, do you want to know how they did it? The FedEx guy dropped off a chip. No flights to Tahoe, no hotel rooms, no expenses at all. Don't get me wrong, I felt like an idiot turning down a free trip to Tahoe, but it was for AMD's own good. We've all seen the financials, these aren't times to be wasting money on silly trips around the country, it costs less than $30 to ship a CPU and that's all we need.

I get the point of Tahoe, it's to control the benchmarking, making sure we wouldn't be comparing a 2.4GHz Phenom to a 3.0GHz Penryn, but honestly folks - would we really do that to begin with? And I get the idea to wine and dine the press, with hopes of more pleasant reviews with better relationships - but this isn't a product to toy with. We're here to do our jobs and that is to review the product that will carry AMD for the next twelve months, and honestly we can't do that from some lodge somewhere away from our testbeds.

This isn't the first time AMD has heard of this from me, and there are many within AMD who feel the same way. The reason you're finding this rant in here today is because I am concerned for the future of the company. Competition is a good thing, we need to keep it around, but AMD needs to learn from its competitors. Intel and NVIDIA don't try things like this, business is always first with them, frivolous pleasures come next.

To AMD: if you want to be Intel, start acting like it.

Intel Responds with...really? Socket-AM2+, Not So Positive?


View All Comments

  • newuser2 - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    As I thought I was wrong with memory pricing (it was 274 not 560) so we have $609 vs $301 if now I'm right. Reply
  • haylui - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    Hopefully IPC improved Shanghai are doing flawlessly in AMD's R&D Lab now. Phenom is worth buy when their TLB errata and quickly ramp up to 3GHz stable cpu.
    Quad CF is something attractive to hardcore high end gamers when Phenom 9 series can come out something at 3GHz that are able to give some really competition to Intel's Penryn and Kentsfield.
  • Lithotech - Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - link

    AMD's OverDrive Utility looks very good, and extremely exciting to hear it actually works. nTune's screens are much larger when sized big enough that there are no scroll bars on the screen, something that's annoyed the carp out of me since it's release. While I do have a couple high res displays, most of the stations in my workshop have only 1024x768 or 1280x1024. I very much like how AMD has designed the interface, and look forward to trying it some time soon.

    Other thoughts:

    There is no doubt good value in these new quad cores.

    Monitary value if and when AMD cuts pricing -- if the last year is any indication of their commitment to this, we may see much more than just sub $200 quads. For mid-range parts, these processors are plenty fast and any mainstream user would be plenty happy using one. The non overclocker does not consider how much headroom is in a CPU and the fact that the Intel equivelents will clock much faster than AMD's parts is completely nullified. It gets right back to basics: price. The overclocking community is growing fast however, and it's nice to see both AMD and Intel recognizing a dedicated and loyal clientel by releasing the Black Editions and showcasing that new chip of Intels.

    Value in technological advancement -- AMD doubtless needs Phenom core technology, and accompanying chipset and socket technology in order to evolve into the next generation. Like Formula 1 racing (or any racing for that matter), not moving forward in technological development equates to moving backwards because if you are standing still, everyone else is passing you. AMD has/is learning a tough lesson in letting the competition catch up as they coasted for so long with the Athlon64.

    Value in power savings -- Each core is independant, and can be clocked at different speeds?! CoolnQuiet on 2 cores, the other two happily crunching full speed in some game? Lower overall temperatures in the end? Oh yeah, baybuh, watch the Silent PC enthusiasts and HTPC builders flock to this!

    Value in reduced spoilage -- one core out of four not quite up to snuff? Disable it and bin the part as a Tri-Core CPU at rediculously attractive prices! In the end, less waste means lower costs to us all as the overall cost of all the products will be greatly reduced. Over time, less spoils per wafer will doubtlessly be achieved, but by then we should see spoiled and binned 8-core CPUs appearing as 6-core, 5-core, 7-core, maybe even 4-core! This is a tough thing for Intel to match untill they get their quads all on one die.

  • extraflamey22 - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    Are people just completely ignoring the fact that the listed Phenom prices are PER 1,000? There's no way you'll be able to buy a $280 2.3GHz Phenom at "launch" (if you can find a retailer who has them in stock).

    Also, the Q6600 is a completely fictional product, and can't be bought from Newegg retail for $279.00 USD. This is why people are pointing to the Phenom as the clear price/performance leader. *boggle*

    While I'm glad AMD fans can find some redemption in Phenom by pointing to the inevitable price cut, this is incredibly short-sighted. Simply put, AMD CANNOT AFFORD to play the margin-slashing game with Intel forever. Phenom needed to *destroy* the Q6600. That would have given AMD the ability to charge a performance premium, and start MAKING MONEY. High-end Phenoms would have been great chips to bridge the gap in performance between the ridiculously priced Extreme chips and the Q6600 (and be priced accordingly), but instead it's outperformed by chips over a year old, and has difficulty keeping up with the still amazing Athlon 64s (albeit in single-threaded apps, but still...)

    Kyle at was exactly right, AMD needed to launch a high-end 3GHz part, and bin down to 2.2GHz to fill out the processor family. They did not do this, and are in trouble.

    I was really hoping AMD could come out with something special, and gain some much needed market share.

    Right now it's clear Intel is holding back (whether to soak up profits or in fear of completely destroying AMD and bringing anti-trust/monopoly investigations down on their heads... or both... is dependant on how you spin it) and a revitalized AMD would have kicked Intel into high gear, bringing advances to the market and the end-consumer faster and lower-priced.

    I really hope AMD gets over it's yield issues FAST, and is bolstered by sales of it's Spider platform, but overall this is bad news for the industry. Competition pushes technology forward, and while Intel's tick-tock cycle (and frankly the necessity for Intel to compete against it's own previous-gen products, if nothing else) will keep moving us forward, no one doubts a stronger AMD would have pushed both companies to bigger and better things.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    [quote] Also, the Q6600 is a completely fictional product, and can't be bought from Newegg retail for $279.00 USD. [/quote]

    not sure what you mean by that.">

    a product known as the Q6600 for $279.99 in stock. Guess they were off by 99 cents.
  • extraflamey22 - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    Sorry, I thought my sarcasm was pretty clear (hence, *boggle*), but apparently it's not transparent enough.

    I posted that because I kept reading posts over and over from people saying the Phenom has the best price/performance ratio. It clearly does not. I simply wanted to emphasize that based on the initial pricing from AMD, the Q6600 is a huge problem for the Phenom, as it's simply the much better buy.

    My apologies.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    The rest of your post was sensible, so I was not sure if you were joking or not.

    Wasn't boggle a board game?
  • extraflamey22 - Thursday, November 22, 2007 - link

    As a matter of fact, it is a board game. I use it as short-hand for "that just boggles the mind...(i.e. doesn't make sense)", which may or may not be common usage, but hey, it's how I talk. :) Reply
  • lectrolyte - Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - link


    First time posting here, I've noticed that no one has made any comment about the power useage of the processors. The claim that the Intel processor is more efficient at idle is only telling half the story and is misleading.

    Intel has quiet clearly claimed the performance crown with the core 2 duo but anyone who has been following the direction of the industry over the last couple of years will notice that performance is not as much of an issue as it used to be. Even a three year old processor can quite happily perform most everyday tasks, qed performance is no longer king.

    Alot of effort is being placed into efficiency and performance per a watt. Evidence of this can be seen from VIA still being alive and well selling it's C7 processors, the growth of AMD in the datacentre and the growth of dual core chips.

    I wont say that the phenom is a stellar peformer it's not, but if you look at the improvements that have been made to it you will notice that most of them centre around power management and efficiency.

    back to my original point, comparing the power draw of only the processors at idle is incompentant at best and deliberately misleading at worst due to the fact that the memory controller is build onto the chip of the phenom. You really need to see the power draw of the system at full load compared to make any reasonable assumptions.

    Consider that quad cores are more likely to end up in a data centre than a home system in the near future and that for every 1w of energy dissipated by your computer you will be spending ~1.5w to keep it cool and then Phenom starts to become much more interesting, add the extra memory bandwidth and native quad cores and I think you will find the performance gaps start to close a little bit on sevrer oriented applications (obviously this statement is conjecture, i'd really like to see some comparrisions of server-type loads if anyone has them but i suspect the differences would be much smaller than shown on end user loads)

  • Iketh - Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - link

    damn where is the rating system??!! Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now