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Dell, the world’s largest maker of personal computers (PCs), is about to start building PCs with processors from Advanced  Micro Devices inside. According to Forbes, which cites Chinese-language news-paper Economic Daily News, Taiwanese manufacturers have already received orders for appropriate mainboards and other infrastructure.

Dell has informed its Taiwan contract makers, such as ASUS, Foxconn and Quanta, of plans to develop devices based on AMD’s microprocessors, and these suppliers are awaiting orders for global shipment, it is reported. Foxconn, which belongs to Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd develops AMD-powered servers, ASUS designs mainboards and Quanta Computer develops notebooks based on AMD microprocessors.

Historically Dell has been using microprocessors only from Intel Corporation. However, with the availability of AMD Athlon processors in 1999 and 2000, rumours about Dell’s presumable intentions to get AMD-based computers on the market became very intense, but the real condition of the things is that there are still no computers from Dell with AMD chips inside. As a major customer of Santa Clara, California-based Intel, Dell reportedly receives some favours from its main chip partner, therefore, this is quite natural for Dell not to use processors from other makers. Moreover, being a company concentrated mostly on corporate and SOHO markets Dell once said that the demand for AMD central processing units from its clients is not too strong.

Back in 2004 approximately 19% of Intel’s revenues came from Dell and about 16% from HP. No other computer makers accounted for more than 10%.

Discussion

Comments currently: 31
Discussion started: 11/21/05 06:35:51 AM
Latest comment: 08/25/06 02:50:21 PM
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1. 
This is the standard rumor that gets thrown around every few months that has so far had no truth to it.

The Athlon 64 is admittedly generally better than the Pentium 4 is most situations and applications, but AMD is a vastly inferior company and that has not changed in the least. For example, Intel offers much wider solutions including chipsets, motherboards, software, marketing dollars, etc... So, it is not just the microprocessor but also the company you have to deal with. On top of this, having fewer different parts makes life easier for the company for logistical reasons, and of course they receive a lot of incentives from Intel to stay Intel only.

Normally, these rumors have no truth at all, and the performance of the microprocessor has not made any difference. This is not the first time AMD has had anything faster than Intel. If you remember the Athlon and the Katmai you had a similar situation, maybe even greater in the sense that the Athlon was faster in even more applications. That is, it is fairly easy to find an application where the Pentium 4 is faster, but finding one where the Katmai was faster was very difficult. It made no difference at all. On the other hand, the Athlon was a pig and the Katmai was much lower power and much smaller. Pentium 4 is a pig, and bigger as well as being slower. So, probably the Pentium 4 represents the weakest competitive position Intel has ever had.

On top of this, the Katmai never hurt Dell. They kept growing, and it was irrelevant. If you look at Dell's recent performance vis-a-vis Hewlett-Packard, it is relatively poor. Their recent performance has shown much slower growth rates than have been historical for Dell, and not too coincidentally AMD has shown market share growth. So, it seems fair to assume that the inferiority of the Pentium 4 is impacting Dell right now more than any other competitive position Intel has had with AMD.

The other issue is the successor to the Pentium 4. It should be better than the Athlon 64, also a relatively inferior processor that artificially looks good because the Pentium 4 is so bad. When compared to the Pentium III and derivatives, particularly for multi-cores, the Athlon is still a pig that offers very poor performance for the power it uses. I think most people would much prefer having a Pentium M to an Athlon 64, particularly when they have the same features (for example x86-64 mode). The perform is roughly the same despite the Pentium M having a very low power ceiling. On top of this, the P8 is rumored (I have seen it mentioned in two places, so who knows if it is true?) to have four integer pipelines, which if true should give it superior performance to the Athlon 64. At any rate, it will be better than the Pentium M and the Pentium M is already a better processor than the Athlon 64 for most people. It costs too much though.

So, if Dell can wait, the competitive situation will change once again in the processor field and Intel should minimally attain parity. Their other advantages will remain and AMD has shown no effort to close them. However, if Dell goes with AMD, that has to say something negative about the P8 or minimally something very positive about the AMD brand name. It may be that there is a decent percentage of people that now perceive AMD as better and have brand loyalty. If so, even if the P8 is better, Dell may find it still makes sense to switch.

Despite all this, I think Dell will remain Intel only for the near future. I could easily be wrong because their slow growth is a new situation, but there are so many advantages to being only Intel based I think they will outweigh the current disadvantage in product mix. If it perpetuates to the P8 as well, I think Intel is done. If the P8 fails the way the P7 has, Intel is going to be a great company to short sell. It still is difficult for me to imagine how it could be so bad though, but who guessed the P7 would be so bad before it was released? I certainly did not.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 11/21/05 10:49:18 AM]
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"should be better than the Athlon 64, also a relatively inferior processor that artificially looks good because the Pentium 4 is so bad."

Well let me say I disagree, if the P4 would have scaled with prescott core (because it don’t), and with the new .65 core, we would be at least at 5.0Ghz. And an P4 at 5.0Ghz is a bad processor for you?



"I think most people would much prefer having a Pentium M to an Athlon 64, particularly when they have the same features (for example x86-64 mode)."

You are assuming that transistors for the x86-64 consume 0% of energy which is not true.
You are also assuming that an integrated memory controller also consumes 0% of energy which is not true.
You are also assuming that SS3 instructions and likes also consume 0% power.
Do your math again. You don’t know what you are talking about.
I will not even talk about faster bus and others that would increase the power consuming of the processor.



"If the P8 fails the way the P7 has, Intel is going to be a great company to short sell.”

If the P8 is the “marvelous” Pentium M that you like so much, are you sure?
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 11/22/05 06:14:35 AM]
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Lazy,

Your first remark is bizarre. You can not talk about what if something did something. The Prescott is a complete failure, it is slower, larger and uses more power than the Athlon 64. Please do not tell me how good it would be if it did something it didn't. That is so irrelevant. Now, considering Intel killed the processor, is it really that good? Hmmmm, probably not.

With regards to power consumption, x86-64 adds less than 5% transistors. This is from AMD.

The Pentium M does not need a memory controller to outperform the Athlon 64, and at any rate it should not increase system power usage anyway since the chipset will not need it.

SSE3 is again relatively trivial when compared to what the processor has.

Now, if you did add a memory controller, the Pentium M would easily outperform the Athlon 64, since it already is very competitive. Or even if you increase the FSB and memory bus.

On the other hand, if you add a memory controller and/or increase FSB speeds, do you need to have 2MB L2 cache? Hmmm, some power savings there.

The reality is, the Athlon 64 is a much larger processor despite a much smaller cache, and those changes are not going to change that much. The Athlon was much bigger than the Pentium III, and these processors are derived from those aforementioned pair.

With regards to your last comment, I think the P8 will be based largely on the Pentium M. Intel has already indicated that. I hate to predict the future, ever, because I am wrong so often, so even something so easy to call as this I will not attempt to predict with certainty. So, I agree with you that there seems no way Intel can come out with a bad processor based on the Pentium III/M, but anything is possible in life so I am reluctant to say it will definitely not happen.

It can't be worse than the Pentium 4 though, right?
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 11/22/05 02:24:15 PM]
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2. 
The AMD Turions can easily hold up to an equally priced Pentium-M in power consumption, heat dissipation and performance.

And Intel had an entire new development for its CPU developed solely for the purpose of the mobile segment, where as AMD just adapted their desktop platform to fit mobile computing needs.

To me it just seems that Intel has been less motivated to inovate and invent, and more motivated to just try and flood the market with an inferior product and a logo, and its starting to show.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 11/21/05 12:23:13 PM]
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Psmitry,

I see your point, especially since people that buy computers today are not nearly as savvy as they were 20 years ago when it was mostly professionals. People know price, and Dell is rough when it comes to that. That they sell junk is generally unknown, and when I talk to the "average person", they think getting a new Dell will solve their problems.

I also have people ask me what they should buy in terms of major manufacturers, and I have no idea what to tell them. I only tell them that they are junk and I don't even consider them. It seems counterintuitive that a computer you build from parts is higher quality than some garbage Dell puts together with low cost components, so I clearly can see your problem. Perception is so difficult to alter, irrespective of reality. I wish you luck though, but it is something I still fail to convince people of.


Cow, I disagree with your remarks about the Pentium M being totally redesigned. It is a modified Pentium III core, and was not entirely designed from scratch. I will grant, however, that it required more design effort than making the Turion line did, but still less than you implied.

Your remarks about Intel not innovating I think are completely misplaced. I think AMD is nearly completely non-innovative, and instead rely on basic technologies that work. I think Intel is much more innovative, or at least has been, and created amazing new technologies that in practice, I hate to say, sucked. The Athlon/Athlon 64 are Pentium III derivatives. They have no innovation worth talking about. The Pentium 4 is much more advanced, with inventions like the trace cache, double-clocked ALUs that reach over 7 GHz, enormous and unheard of clock speeds, hyperthreading, etc... Problem is, in practice they fell in love with technology for the sake of technology and came out with a lousy product. How about the Itanium? This is not innovative? It is a totally new architecture and has so many new ideas that it would take a small book to mention them. Is it good? Well, ummm, not yet anyway. Certainly it is innovative. AMD made better choices, no doubt about it. But, they do not even compare to Intel in terms of technological advances. Intel simply has not found a way to translate them into products that outperform their competition. It will be interesting to see if the P8 benefits at all from any of this development they have done, as Intel has been saying it takes the best of the P7 and P6 and puts them in one processor. I am pretty skeptical about that, but I hope they are right. They seem such different designs, I am not sure how well you could merge the technologies. Sounds like marketing to me.

0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 11/21/05 02:48:25 PM]
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I'm disappointed that you said that Intel has innovations. Well let's assume that what you said about Athlon is a derivative of Pentium III is true. What innovation do you have with Intel Prescott apart from the introduction of deeper integral pipeline and introduction of 16 new Prescott instructions? I just feel that those pieces of rubbish had those features to be able exceed the 4GHz limits. Unfortunately, they can't eat your cake and have it in terms of offering poor architecture with extremely high clock speed and not face the reality of heavy heat dissipation. Intel introduced Hpyer-Threading Technology that belongs to Xeon Server chip to compete with AMD when they saw that they were lacking behind seriously to Athlon XPs of AMD in performance terms. Look at AMD they seem to know all about Intel's poor architecture. That is the reason why Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMD's microprocessor business unit was not worried at the high clocks of Intel chips knowing that with them having 1GHz less will beat them without efforts with their excellent K8 architecture designs. They offer better performance with low heat dissipation. Look at K8 architecture offering Integrated Memory Controller, Hyper-Transport Technology, Increased L2 Cache, 64bit instruction with 32bit backward compatibility, Cool n' Quite technology, On-Chip Thermal Intelligent Throttling. This is what Intel will never offer the public. Then tell me what innovation is if a technology is disadvantageous to the consumers. That is why Intel keeps changing chipsets regularly making OEMs to have unstable platform at least for a short while. So read again about the architecture of both companies before passing such comment online again.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 11/21/05 11:10:39 PM]
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