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

  • stmok - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    ...And I guess it looks like the wait wasn't worth it.

    This article confirms to me I should be leaning towards the Intel C2Q Q9450.
  • rhatsaruck - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    On page 4 titled "Socket-AM2+, Not So Positive?" Anand writes:

    Currently, the L3 cache/NB on these chips runs at a fixed frequency that's actually lower than the rest of the CPU frequency: 2.0GHz. We tested Phenoms running from 2.2GHz all the way up to 2.6GHz, and in all cases the L3 cache and North Bridge ran at 2.0GHz.

    What's the performance impact of this limitation? I don't know how to quantify it. It seems like it might have a material effect on performance. Perhaps Anand can re-run his benchmarks at 1.8 and 2.0 GHz to get a sense of the performance boost when this limitation doesn't exist. From this we might be able to determine how much this shortcoming effects performance at speeds greater than 2.0 GHz.
  • Iketh - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    My Athlon 4200+ (2.2ghz) overclocks to 2.7ghz stable. Anything passed that and the second core skyrockets too high in temp and fails prime95 torture tests, while the first core has yet to fail ANY tests and runs up to 10 degrees C cooler.

    My point is the individual core overclocking is the only positive I see out of phenom. If i had this ability in my current athlon 4200+, it'd be clocked at 2.7 and 3.2+ easily.
  • Omega215D - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    Ahh the old 9700 makes a comeback but too bad it falls a bit below expectations compared to the 9700 GPU by ATI who is now AMD.

    Maybe there's still time to make some tweaks to the processor?
  • GlassHouse69 - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link


    too bad for amd. they are toast it seems.

    if it managed to be as cool and quiet, then I would have gone there on a quad because of price plus they have better and more consistently cheap + featured motherboards.


    Well, on that thought, the new 790x motherboards with this actually might be low power when its all set up and done. fx or x I think does relatively the same thing. isnt the chipset supposed to be incredibly low wattage?

  • johnsonx - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    Everyone knows AMD processors have always been, and will always be, far superior to the crap from Intel. Any article suggesting otherwise is clear evidence of pro-Intel bias, that indeed you all get weekly checks from Intel for the favorable press. The reality is that most Intel processors really don't even work at all; all the supposed PC's sold with Intel processors secretly use AMD processors instead, but again Intel pays off the companies to say they're Intel Inside. Intel has an endless supply of money because of their unfair business practices and the Magic Money Fairy.
  • JumpingJack - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    This is outright kiddin' no one can be that stupid. Reply
  • Bonesdad - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    is that you, Cramitpal??? Reply
  • ESD4300 - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    Lol. What a fucking clueless, moronic fanboy Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link


    and the company was committed to delivering Phenom before the holiday buying season

    Good idea, but didn't they pick the wrong parts to focus on? I doubt many of these quad-cores are going to find their way into budget systems, which is where they might see significant sales volume. Unless AMD is hoping hype from the Phenom launch will turn into better sales of Athlon X2 systems, it is odd to focus on parts which are high-end for your current line but not in the greater market.

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