Sunday, March 29, 2009

Intel 18

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) held a Web-based press conference Aug. 15 to formally attack Intel Corp. prior to the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in San Francisco next week.

When AMD invited me to listen to a webcast regarding the IDF forum, I expected to hear some news; maybe their 45nm processor Shanghai would be coming out earlier than expected to make up for Barcelona’s delay? That would be big and would help AMD make up some ground in the processor product release wars against Intel.

Instead, the conference served as a means for AMD to plant the seeds of skepticism in the minds of IDF attendees before the conference. AMD executives spent the hour call marketing their existing processing and graphics technologies and bashing Intel.

Allen also touted AMD’s virtualization assist technology, AMD-V with Nested Page Tables, which recieved high praise from a VMware engineer recently, and he noted that quad-core Opteron is being used in a total of seven of the top performing systems in the most recent Top 500 Supercomputers list, including the No. 1 IBM’s RoadRunner.

“We have our swagger back,” Allen said.

He failed to note, however, that AMD’s Opteron chips were used in only 56 systems (11.2%) on the list, which is down from 78 systems six months ago. Intel processors were used in 74.8% of the world’s supercomputers (about 374 systems), up 4% from six months ago.

When a reporter raised this issue during the press conference, Allen said that having Opteron used in the top performing computer and systems high on the list is more notable than the slip in the number of total systems on the top 500.

In addition to hyping AMD products, Allen also spent plenty of time directly attacking Intel, saying the company has an easy time innovating because it simply mimics AMD’s work.

“Intel adopted our power efficiency technology, our multicore technology and you will see them copying the Direct Connect Architecture and HyperTransport technologies we developed five years ago. … Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also annoying.”

Surely, IDF conference goers will hear similar hype about Intel products from Intel executives next week and negative remarks about AMD.

The only mention of AMD’s processor on deck, 45-nanometer chip code-named Shanghai, was that it is scheduled for release later this year and will be delivered on time. Shanghai will consume 20% less power at idle than Barcelona and will have 6 MB of L3 cache (compared with Barcelona’s 2MB of L3 cache).

All in all, the press conference simply re-stated old AMD news.

Thanks for the re-cap, AMD. That is an hour of my life I’ll never get back. And if you just finished reading this blog, hopefully it’s only a few minutes of your time that you can never get back.

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