As we reported last month (See Success of Athlon Depends Upon Motherboards from Aug 12), motherboard availability has prevented the AMD Athlon from achieving any retail sales to speak of. Almost one full month after the official release, systems are still not available from major OEMs and while processors are sitting on retailer shelves, there are no motherboards to be found. Though the stability issues have not been as bad as first feared, there are still sufficient problems to cause manufacturers to be very cautious in rushing product to market.
When we ran our story, many in the pro-Intel camp hooted and hollered proclaiming the Athlon a failure, while many on the AMD side pooh-poohed it as ‘conjecture’, and pointed to hardware ‘review’ sites as proof that no such issues existed. There was also much huffing and puffing from AMD advocates about Intel strong-arm tactics and other nefarious actvities – including some rather questionable comments from at least one major hardware site.
It is important to recognize how pivotal this current situation is to both Intel and AMD. Intel has traditionally been a paranoid and very tough competitor, using every tactic in the book to gain and retain market share. As such, they have always used high pressure tactics to keep motherboard manufacturers and OEMs in the Intel camp, and have always used slick marketing tactics to steal the focus from competitors products. AMD is all too aware of this, and they attempted to preempt these tactics with the Athlon release. Unfortunately, AMD does not have the market power that Intel does so they have a bit less control over other manufacturers.
Though it is easy to claim that all of AMDs problems are because of underhanded Intel tactics, this is simply not the case. It is also not the case that AMD has completely bungled the release, as many Intel advocates (and Intel themselves) would have us believe. The reality is that a number of issues combined to take some of the wind out of the Athlon sails, however I personally believe that this may actually work in the favor of AMD over the long run. On the other hand, the window of opportunity for AMD is shrinking, and the motherboard availability issue must be resolved quickly before any further damage to AMDs reputation is done.
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