Window of Opportunity Closing for AMD

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As I indicated, Intel has always used their market strength and power to get their way with other manufacturers. I can recall an ASUS presentation where one of their executives announced that there would be no motherboards supporting the 83MHz bus speed after the P/I P55T2P4 motherboard, and stopped just short of actually saying that Intel had pressured them into the decision. It took almost a year before ASUS included that feature again, and even then only after most other manufacturers had already done so.

There are numerous similar stories from other manufacturers pertaining to the use of non-Intel chipsets and PC133 SDRAM, support of the Super Socket 7 platform and many other solutions not endorsed or supported by Intel. This is actually not the primary reason for the lack of Athlon motherboards (despite some rather obviously theatrical comments made elsewhere), and in fact AMD has been well aware of these tactics. It is also a fact that most motherboard manufacturers really want AMD to succeed in the marketplace, even if just to knock Intel down a few notches. These manufacturers would be producing Slot A motherboards today if that were the only issue, just as most are producing Super Socket 7 motherboards.

The Intel spinmeisters are working double-overtime to make the most out of the situation, however. Before the August 9 release date, the pro-Intel camp was questioning whether the Athlon would ever be available, claiming that AMD has never met a release date (and ignoring the fact that Intel themselves have missed all their dates for the past two years). When it became obvious that the processors would be available, they turned their focus on the motherboard issue, mostly making unfounded comments based loosely upon our article, and snippets about the MSI motherboard debacle.

It did not take long for the attacks to begin directly against the Athlon itself, the first being an attempt to discredit Athlon benchmarks using 3Dmark99. Apparently, AMD had asked Futuremark for the approval to optimize the benchmark for the Athlon themselves. This was done because Futuremark had their own agenda for releasing the next verion of the benchmark at Comdex, and simply had no interest in coming out with any new release before that time. No review site received this optimized code, and AMD did mention it on most of the press releases – but they erroneously failed to include the disclaimer on all of the releases. This provided just enough of an opening for Intel to try and leverage it for all they could. Fortunately, it was countered fairly quickly with facts, and the damage was minimal.

Although it appears that Intel was initially put off-balance by the AMD tactics of hiding virtually every aspect of the Athlon before release, the Intel PR machine has begun to do their work. Recently, an Intel executive make some nebulous comments about the upcoming Coppermine processor release on a financial news show, stating “Just wait until October”, but refusing to provide any details. At the IDF last week, Intel demonstrated a working sample of the Merced processor at 800MHz, which some reports have claimed was done only as a response to the Athlon.

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