AMD's Phenom Unveiled: A Somber Farewell to K8by Anand Lal Shimpi on November 19, 2007 1:25 AM EST
- Posted in
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.