AMD Poised to Lose Another Race with Intel

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

With Phenom II hitting the streets this week, AMD needs to learn a few simple rules about how to challenge a market leader such as Intel in the performance arena.

Imagine this: you’re sitting in the staging lane in your shiny new Ford F150 pickup truck ready to drag race. You’re feeling pretty good and confident until the 10-cylinder Dodge Viper pulls along side. Perhaps implying that you’re the fastest one around was not such a good idea after all?

This is exactly what AMD is doing with its new Phenom II CPU, the company’s next-generation 45-nanometer processor. It’s bringing a real workhorse of a processor to market, but it’s lining up to challenge a racing sports car in speed performance in Intel’s Naleham processor.


 Frank Ohlhorst

AMD can’t help but be compared to Nehalem, Intel’s desktop performance powerhouse, but AMD has done little to avoid that comparison by surrounding the Phenom II with a shroud of mystery and then implying that with overclocking the Phenom II will make it a speed king.
AMD knew that the inevitable comparisons would be made and that the Phenom II could never outpace Nehalem, yet it still positioned the Phenom II as the latest and greatest thing in desktop performance, building up a groundswell of expectations.

Once the test results are made public, it will be easy to see how the AMD Phenom II really measures up to the Nehalem, and many AMD fans are sure to be disappointed. This won’t make Phenom II worthless. Just as a pickup with extra horsepower is a powerful tool, we expect the same of Phenom II. But that doesn’t make it the same as Intel’s race car.

When one considers the price-verses-performance argument, Phenom II will likely cost significantly less money than anything Nehalem, including CPU, memory and motherboard. To make sure that the Phenom II is taken seriously, AMD needs to highlight the costs involved in building systems with the new CPU, the CPUs performance per watt characteristics and the savings that can be realized by using a Phenom II over a Nehalem.

In the grand scheme of things, most desktop users aren’t looking to be speed kings (save for the video editor or autocad engineer). They want an affordable system that can meet their day-to-day chores reliably and with little fuss or muss. That’s where AMD can succeed over Intel and perhaps win at least one race.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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