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  2004 AMD Tech Tour

It's been a few years since I last attended an AMD Tech Tour...and a lot has changed. The show back in 2001 was crowded, almost to the point of overflowing. The attendence for this year's tour was disheartening. There may have been 100 people in all. By the time I got there, only four or five vendors still remained. However, by the number of displays present, I don't think there were too many more vendors who were there earlier. Unfortunately, most of the blame should probably be placed on AMD's shoulders. The whole advertising and marketing of this show seemed highly disorganized in comparison to previous years.

For example, many of us only attended in the evening...but there was an earlier session too.

Check the drop-down list of cities below to see what evening (6:00 pm - 9:00 pm) we'll roll into your city, and make plans now to explore with us the digital world of advanced 64-bit technology.

The agenda stated the same thing

AMD64 Experience Tour Agenda

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm - Buffet Dinner

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm - AMD64 Experience

  • Gaming
  • Digital Imaging
  • Digital VideoDigital Music
  • SMB/Home Office

If you were a System Builder, you were notified of the afternoon session. That earlier session is where all the technical discussions and presentations took place. That techy information was the reason I attended. Back in 2001, they covered all the technical stuff, dinner, giveaways and vendor exhibitions within a 3 or 4 hour evening. This year, it took 8 hours to accomplish the same task. If it was AMD's intention to just make the technical content available for System Builder's, I think they made a bad decision. Those of us who aren't necessarily in the system building market, still are called upon for tech and buying advice all the time. We could use that information as well.

In talking to some show personnel, the New York show was also lightly attended. In that case, the location chosen by AMD may have been poor. In fact, some of the people I talked to yesterday said they were New Yorkers and it was actually quicker for them to get to the Philly show than the New York one. Again, I question the logistics planning for the shows. From the above, you might get the impression that the Tech Tour was a bomb, but that was not the case.

Technical Stuff

The only technical discussion I heard was the Q&A for the final afternoon session. Somebody asked the question about DDR2 support for the A64 chips. AMD responded it would be 2006 before we saw those components. According to AMD, DDR2 400 is slowerer than DDR1 400. In fact, AMD said that it would take DDR2 533 to approximate the performance of DDR1 400. AMD feels that is not enough justification to warrant the jump to DDR2. In fact, it would take DDR2 667 to make that jump. However, like Rambus before it, DDR2 667 does not have a good price/performance ratio. Finally, to support DDR2, AMD would have to add additional pins to the A64 chips and more pins, means a new socket. Considering the changes required, AMD has decided to push off that move until 2006.

ATI was showing off their new products including the upcoming RS480 PCI Express motherboard. Look for motherboards using that chipset to be available soon. The X800 running on a Samsung LCD looked awesome. They may not employ Pixel Shaders 3.0, but the image quality of the ATI cards is stunning.

Yamaha took the main stage in the evening session showing off their Motif ES-8 keyboard. Wow! I guess I've been out of the music biz a little too long. It is amazing how far the digital keyboards have come. The ES-8 even uses a breathing tube to allow the musician to add the "human" factor to the music.


Other companies that were still there in the evening included VIA, Crucial and Chaintech. For a full list of additional sponsors, click here.

Fun Stuff

While the afternoon session was devoted to the technical aspects of the A64 technology, the evening session was about putting the technology to work. As already discussed, Yamaha demonstrated the music capabilities of the technology via the stage presentation and the digital music workstations that were available to play with. There were also digital graphics/editing workstations to tryout. Due to the poor turnout, there were no lines for any of the workstations.

There were different rigs set up for gamers to try their hand at games like Far Cry and DOOM3. I was impressed how smoothly those games ran. However, the jewel of the evening was a Far Cry deathmatch tournament.

As seen in the agenda above, there was no mention of a Far Cry Tournament. Maybe that kept away those "superhuman" deathmatchers ;-) There were 20 Alienware PC's set up for the tourney. Since I there, I figured I jump in and be cannon fodder for some Red Bull-crazed, pasty skinned 16-year old gamer ;-)  I ended up going to the finals...and then got my but kicked :-/  The winner looked like a business man about 35 or 40. Who would have guessed?

Final Thoughts

Past AMD Tech Tours have been a opportunity to win some great prizes...but not this year. In the past, AMD has given away all kinds of processors and motherboards. This year, prizes included things like baseball caps and t-shirts (Napster t-shirts no less!). In the evening session, they only gave away one processor and that was to the winner of the Far Cry tournament.

So, should you plan on attending? Well that depends. Contrary to what is published, double-check the starting time. It's quite possible that there is an afternoon session you can get into. This is the "meat and potatoes" of the Tech Tour and is well worth it. If you just want to play around, the evening session may be more your style.


      Posted by: , November 4, 2004, 8:12 pm  

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