Sales and Marketing Presentation
This past week, AMD announced a 9% increase in profits while the industry as a whole is struggling. They also announced that they had gained another 4% market share from Intel. While their biggest gains have come from the consumer market, AMD is out to prove they belong in the business market. They talked about things like TCO, Financial Security and their Technology Innovation. One thing they focused on was that their value and performance line of processors both used the same platform (Socket A); the competiton can not make that claim. Consequently it adds to AMD's scalability - you can easily move from a Duron to a Thunderbird if you have the need for more power.
Though it wasn't a major point in their presentation, AMD reminded the audience of their 30 years in IC design and that Flash Memory contributes a major portion of their sales.
Part of the presentation included a little comparison of how the Duron was built on 1999 architecture while the Celeron was built on 1995 technology. They also tossed in a little benchmark lovin' showing the merits of the Athlon over the Pentium 4.
While it was informative, the Sales Presentation paled in comparison to the Technical Presentation.
There was a lot of excellent technical information provided for those building systems with AMD processors. Unfortunately, they didn't have all the slides in our seminar materials and I didn't realize that until after the presentation had started. Consequently, I never wrote down the "Seven Deadly Sins" of processor mounting. While not coming out and addressing the durability issue of their processor packaging, the presenter drilled us on the proper placement of the heatsinks and the importance of making sure the heatsink is approved by AMD. Without a heat sink (or an improperly mounted one), a processor can be "fried" in as little as four seconds. Speaking of heat, AMD recommends that case temperature never exceeds 42 degrees Celsius.
The AMD rep spent a fair amount of time on this subject alone. The basic message was this, avoid using thermal grease. He explained that since thermal grease is already a liquid at room temperature, it runs freely when heated. Since there are traces (circuit items) on the top of their processor package, this grease can spread over those items and destroy the CPU. This is exasperated if the motherboard is mounted vertically like in a tower case. He also discussed the proper application of thermal pads and thermal compounds.
Systems builders can sometimes overlook the importance of using quality power supplies. Also, there are a lot of unscrupulous vendors out there selling uncertified ATX power supplies. AMD told the audience about multiple occassions where they certified a vendors' power supply only to have them slap that model number on an uncertified part. It's important to note that an ATX power supply must have a vent on the bottom of the power supply to remove heat from the CPU. As for size, their upcoming dual solutions will require a staggering 460 Watt power supply!
One of the problems that AMD hears about frequently is improper driver installation. When it was primarily an Intel world, builders didn't have to worry about chipset drivers - the OS usually contained default drivers for the chipset. Nowadays with chipsets from AMD, VIA, ALi and SiS, installing the chipset driver is critical to proper operation of the machine. Here is AMD's recommended order of driver installation:
||Network Card driver|
The speaker transistioned from installation issues to current and future projects. The item that caused the most buzz was dual processors and the 760MP chipset. We were told to expect the dual processor solutions to be available by the end of June. The Tyan Thunder K7 is currently making the rounds but is under NDA. However, what really made people sit up in their seats was the announcement of dual-Duron solutions. They claimed that while these machines are screamers, they would be affordable SMP solutions. Personally, that may make me consider going to the business version of Windows XP just to get SMP support. What a change from Intel, who went out of their way to squash dual-Celeron solutions.
Ever since AMD became a threat to Intel, there have been two fronts of this war: price and speed. They have traditionally been competitive on price with Intel. They had no choice. Only recently have they challenged Intel on speed. While the pricing helped keep Intel honest, it wasn't enough. However, with AMD ramping up speed with ease, Intel was forced to "keep up with the Jones". Unfortunately, as we saw with the 1.13GHz Pentium III, Intel could not keep up.
While Intel lost ground in the consumer market, they were safe in the SMP market. They could charge premium prices and fear no competition...but that is about to change. The promise of the 760MP chipset is glorious speed at a reasonable price. Now even the workstation/server market (Intel's golden goose) is no longer safe.
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