Post of the Day
August 30, 1999

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Re: PIII vs. Athlon Shootout

Author: cameronj

What I also found totally amusing is the AMD / Intel processor prices. The Athlon / 600 is 30 dollars more expensive that the PIII / 600, which had always been AMD's self-touted claim to fame, that they could build them cheaper.

What a wonderful lead-in to a discussion of processors in the PC market (you didn't think I was going to talk about Dell, did you? (on my own defense, I had already posted this article a week ago, so don't say I never mention Dell) (I mean nothing against you, emtwo))...and number 3...) Nested parentheses :)

Anyway, one quick thing before I get into it: AMD has never claimed that they could produce their chips for less than Intel. Mention such a thing at a computer exhibition and you will be laughed out of the place. AMD has always been content to sell their chips for less than Intel, but was never anywhere near being able to produce them for less.

Also, I own a short-term position in AMD, hoping to ride what I see as an inevitable rise in earnings over the next 9 months or so. I plan to exit AMD with at least a 100% gain in that period. After I exit, I plan to watch AMD slowly slide down the drain to oblivion.

So, on to it. The Athlon is a superior chip to the P-III. There is no question of it. If you wish, go to www.tomshardware.com, www.sharkyextreme.com, www.firingsquad.com or www.anandtech.com, to name a few of the best sites on the web for true computer technical reviews. It is superior in office computing, it is superior in gaming computing, it is in fact superior down to the very core design concepts.

At 600 MHZ, the Athlon bests the P-III in nearly every (if not every, I just hesitate to ever say every) test. To add insult to injury, the Athlon is available (a relative term, since you can't really get your hands on it yet, more on that later) at 650 MHZ as well, whereas P-III maxes out at 600. This 650 chip beats everything Intel has on the consumer desktop in every mark, and even bests the Xeon in many tests.

Further, Athlon is just at the bottom of it's speed ladder, while the P-III is at the end. There will probably never be a P-III built on the current 0.25 micron process, because the architecture just gets too hot. When Intel moves to 0.18 micron 'wires,' it will be able to move further up, but we will not see 1 GHZ for at least another 9-12 months, possibly more. Conversely, Athlons scraped together by the aforementioned sites (and my word is all I have to offer for these sites, they are by far the most truthful and accurate and complete sites around, including PCmag,week,comp and world) have been able to be overclocked up to 700 MHZ and beyond, without special cooling. So it is safe to say that once AMD gets production rolling, they will easily be able to pull out a 700 MHZ chip for Xmas.

The Athlon will be the fastest chip on the market for 6-9 months. There will be review after review that shows a CPQ or IBM system as 10-15% faster than the Dell system. This we will have to get used to, there is nothing we can do about it. As you see above (way above), Dell still wins over the others, even without the fastest system.

Some of you will now be near the point of madness, screaming at your computer to tell you why MD is so stupid to pass up a great opportunity. Many of you already know what I will say, but I'll say it anyway. Athlon's availability and producability(my own creation) are in question. Dell has a world-beating inventory of 6 days, while AMD has a world-beating inability to deliver a product. Can you imagine trying to mesh these two companies' products? I can't.

I predict that Dell will not use the Athlon before next spring, if ever.

AMD must show that it can deliver the kind of quantities that Dell needs, on time, every time. Right now, AMD will have plenty of orders to fill from CPQ and IBM, its very close buddies, to grab all the fastest chips.

It seems to me that AMD very much needs Dell to sign on, and that AMD might be willing to give them a huge discount on chips. It would certainly help AMD's credibility, to have the name of a company like Dell who refuses to sacrifice quality to save a buck (like CPQ will). Of course, the price is probably not the biggest issue for Dell, though they are probably getting a nice price break from Intel for being the last bastion there. The key is that AMD proves it can deliver, and deliver big. If AMD can write a contract for Dell guaranteeing first-grab of all processors, I think Dell will jump at it. Just wait for AMD to get their wheels going, and then we shall see what will happen.

In the meantime, it is clear from the above review that Dell will not be missing out on the party by not having Athlon on board.

That's about all I know in the world, my brain is squeezed dry (though still a bit gooey, I suppose...)

nighty night,