Advanced Micro Devices
Confessions of a Chipset Convert

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By duttermohl
April 12, 2001

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For several months I have been scoffing at those on this board who insisted that AMD HAD to be in the chipset business to survive. My reasoning against it was simple: any development or marketing money spent on selling a $30 chipset took money away from selling a $200 processor. Let the mobo [mother board] makers scrape for the few bucks profit in each board while AMD pursued loftier (and more profitable) goals.

Well, Tom's Hardware review of VIA's KT266 chipset has convinced me. The poor performance of the KT266 (just a hair better than the KT133A and about 90% of the AMD760's performance) will doom the success of DDR and with it, hurt the success of the T-bird and Palomino.

At a minimum, AMD should license their core Northbridge design to all chipset makers. This will give the 760 the maximum distribution at the lowest cost to AMD. I still don't think the money is good enough in Chipsets/MoBos to justify the capital costs.

The second level solution is to contract out the fab of the 760 Northbridge and sell it cheap. Let the Southbridge be the market differentiation method for Via et al. This would require AMD to beef up the design of the Northbridge with features like integrated video (and throw in an HTT or two?). This option would help Duron sales a lot.

Finally, the riskiest approach, buy a mobo maker and mimic Intel. (Say, doesn't Intel have a spare Mobo plant?) This is very risky from a strategic standpoint as it would be a big commitment of resources and compete with the other chimps. If you think VIA is slow with AMD support now, wait until you see how long it takes them to come out with AMD support when AMD is a large direct competitor!

I fear that AMD will continue to be hurt by the incompetence of their allies and will never maximize the performance (and price) of their CPUs unless they supply a bigger chunk of the socket A chipsets.