AMD Confident In Their Future

Since the release of the official K7 benchmarks and information on June 10 at the Dirk Meyer presentation, the newsgroups, message boards and hardware publications have been awash with speculation on availability, pricing and the fate of the K6 line. Earlier today, we were able to catch up with AMD rep Drew Prairie and ask whether any of these questions can be answered. While some answers were available, the official AMD line is that they are still not divulging too much until the official release of the K7.

K7 Update

Though most sources are claiming that June 23 is the official release date of the K7, Drew would not confirm nor deny it. In fact, the official company statement is that revenue shipments will begin in late June, which does not mean that the product will be officially released. What this apparently means is that at least one OEM will begin getting product so that their systems will be ready by the actual release date. The impression we were left with was that the official release may in fact be in July or August.

One question has been the subject of some discussion by those who don’t believe the numbers released at the presentation – specifically “if the K7 is so dang good, why haven’t we seen independent benchmarks for it”? Well, when questioned about this, Drew indicated that any samples that may have been shipped would be under strict NDA and such results would be available only when AMD has ‘lifted the embargo later this summer’. This seems to confirm that the official release will not occur on June 23 (or anytime in June).

While the presentation mentioned 19 new 3DNow! integer instructions and 5 new DSP instructions, there was no real information provided. AMD Developer partners have obviously received the official documentation on these instructions, but these too are under strict NDA. Drew did mention that the 19 integer instructions were the equivalent of the SSE ‘streaming’ instructions which allow the programmer to have more control over the use of cache.

Another topic of interest has been about pricing. Unfortunately, there is no additional information about this subject except that the next Dirk Meyer presentation will include pricing information (whenever that will be). Though the official AMD statements indicate that only OEMs will be receiving parts initially, there are some in the reseller community who have claimed AMD has promised parts in the channel as soon as the product is announced. Drew could not, of course, confirm this.

K6 Update

There have been many rumors of a K6 ‘glut’, which is apparently completely unfounded. We did ask if the K7 production would affect the K6 line, and we were assured that AMD has done everything possible to prevent that situation. In fact, it seems that the yields are very good for the K7 parts as well as the current K6 parts, so production should not be an issue in the near future.

With the future in mind, we then asked what the life expectency of the K6-2 and K6-III is. While we could get no specific answers on exactly how long these lines will be produced, the response was simply ‘for a long time yet’. In addition, Drew confirmed that AMD is committed to providing whatever the market demands, and what they are able to deliver in terms of speed grades, including possible 500MHz and faster parts. They are still officially positioning the K6-2 against the Celeron, the K6-III against the P-III and the K7 against the Xeon (and upcoming Willamette).

The one comment that was very interesting to us is the fact that AMD has apparently committed to producing .18 micron K6 parts. Whether this applies only to the K6-III or also to the K6-2, we could not determine, but it will most likely be transitioned after the K7 is. The further comment regarding the K7 in this regard is that the K7 was designed with the transition to .18 micron in mind, so there should be very little trouble in doing so.

High Hopes

Though AMD is officially not releasing much information, they appear to be feeling very confident that the K7 will give them a big boost out of the red ink they have been mired in recently. Though the official benchmarks look very good, it seems that AMD still thinks they have some tweaking to do and that they will have little trouble in matching Intel in every segment of the market. All of those who are enjoying the benefits of this competition are hoping that this is actually the case.

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