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Dell to use AMD Chips in Desktop PCs 125

Posted by Zonk
from the dun-dun-dunnnnnnn dept.
bain writes "MarketWatch reports that Dell has decided to use AMD chips in its Dimension desktops due next month. The move to use AMD chips signals a break from its long standing reliance on Intel chips. The information slipped out of Dell's quarterly earnings report." From the article: "Before the announcement, which had been speculated in the financial community and the press, Morgan Stanley analyst Mark Edelstone wrote in a research note: 'It should have a negative impact on Intel and it could be a large offset to the expected benefits from Intel's restructuring efforts.' AMD, which has become a more formidable competitor to Intel, has been expanding its manufacturing capacity, a sign that it expects to be shipping more chips. Its chief goal is to put itself in position to supply 33% of the global microprocessor market by 2008. "
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Dell to use AMD Chips in Desktop PCs

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enoxice (993945) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:32AM (#15934046) Journal
    Hopefully, this will spur even more innovation from both camps than we've been seeing recently. If you thought the new processor offerings were impressive before, wait until you see Intel fighting back against this move to try to regain some market share.

    I'm excited.

    though I'm still not going to buy any computers from Dell)
    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:36AM (#15934080) Journal
      Well we have already been seeing some huge innovations. Chip innovations stumbled for a few years for two reasons. Intel had a virtual monopoly, chips were reaching their theoretical speed limit and Intel didn't seem to see anyway to improve them except ramping up the Ghz and putting a bigger heatsink on it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by insanarchist (921436)
        Intel were no doubt developing the core processor back then, or at least researching it, but the delay from idea to reality can be a very long process. The biggest mistake Intel made was assuming the Netburst architecture could be easily ramped up to 5+ Ghz, or that raw Ghz would still be the biggest influence on processing speed. Hyperthreading was a precursor to multicore processors, idea-wise, and hyperthreading has been around for quite a while.

        Just sayin'.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Doctor Memory (6336)

          The biggest mistake Intel made was assuming ... that raw Ghz would still be the biggest influence on processing speed

          I doubt they made that mistake, I think it's more likely they saw that raw GHz was the biggest influence on purchasing decisions. Why do you think AMD revised their processor numbering scheme to emphasize "apparent" processor speed? Do you honestly think your average computer buyer would pick a dual-core 2.2GHz processor over a 3GHz single-core, even though the dual-core may have 40% better

          • by Nutria (679911)
            I agree that NetBurst failed to scale to the degree that Intel was hoping,

            Did NB gigahertz not scale, or was the intense heat (and subsequent system design decisions that flow from such heat) the big problem, when AMD systems were not as hot?

            • As I understand it, it was partly the heat, and partly the inability to physically get enough power to the chip circuitry. As process shrinks made the individual circuits smaller, the individual traces became less able to carry the power required by the 20-stage+ pipeline. Making the traces bigger made it harder to lay out the chip, and negated some of the advantages of the process shrink.

              There's an interesting explanation of the whole situation here [bit-tech.net].
        • by DrYak (748999) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:55AM (#15935188) Homepage
          Hyperthreading was a precursor to multicore processors, idea-wise

          While in the end, both hyperthreading and multicore enable you to run more task concurrently without buying extra chips, they don't have anything in common. HT isn't Multi-cores precursor, it's completly different idea.

          The basic idea of HT is to fill-in the hole that happen in the pipe. Very often, the CPU waits a few cycle, while instruction are comming through the pipeline stage. The basic idea of HT is instead of a given stage stay idle, wainting on the previous to complete, we can feed it with data from another thread. 1 logical unit, but 2 threads run in parallel, the first one as usual, the second only serve to avoid staying idle each time a prediction turned out wrong. Over-all speed : almost the same, but background task "feel" more responsive.

          The basic idea behind multicore is to try to takae the advantage of 2 CPU, but sharing some part : 1 packaging, 1 interface, 1 socket on a single-socket motherboard some times even 1 of the lowest level cache (and some times it is just two chip packaged together and using 1 interface), except from that sharing, it behaves mostly like two CPU. Over-all speed : doubled.

          So the idea are basically different : HT is "try to keep the CPU busy even in case of pipe-line stall (and thus avoid wasting time)", Dual-Core is "try to make SMP by making two-processors-on-a-chip (and thus increasing theoretical max speed)".
          • I didn't mean precursor in the literal, design-sense, moreso in the overall idea that doing more things at once is more effective than doing one thing at a time faster, which I thought was one of the basic advantages of multiple cpu's. Multiple threads being executed at the same time, you know?
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by drinkypoo (153816)

              I didn't mean precursor in the literal, design-sense, moreso in the overall idea that doing more things at once is more effective than doing one thing at a time faster, which I thought was one of the basic advantages of multiple cpu's. Multiple threads being executed at the same time, you know?

              But what you're missing is that hyperthreading often slows things down, although I honestly have no idea why. Still, the P4 is a pile of crap. The pipeline is miles long - it's even got "twiddle my thumbs" stages,

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Chris Burke (6130)
                But what you're missing is that hyperthreading often slows things down, although I honestly have no idea why.

                I can't say for certain, but I have some educated guesses. Basically, resource sharing and resource splitting.

                Resources like the L1 data cache are shared. If your two threads have working sets that fit in the l1 cache, then a 'traditional' time-slicing approach allows each thread to work entirely out of the cache. If you run them both at the same time, then they share the cache and neither can fit
          • Wow. +500 Informative, I never properly understood HT until now.

            Nice sig, too.
      • by pb (1020)
        Yep, I got my current AMD64 chip because of those innovations--dual core and virtualization extensions, and at a reasonable price! (not to mention the increased number and width of the registers on x86_64, which is a welcome improvement for the x86 architecture...)
        • by fitten (521191)
          The increased number and width of the registers on x86-64 is transparent unless you do assembly programming or assembly level programming such as that for making compilers. For the rest of us, it doesn't really mean anything.

          If you really like ISAs and register architectures, you'll most likely like CPUs other than x86, anyway (any of the load/store ones and/or those that are more orthagonal like the 68k and/or VAX, for example).
          • by pb (1020)

            The increased number and width of the registers on x86-64 is transparent

            Sure, but depending on the task in question, the benefits might not be--not that I've benchmarked this yet, mind you. :)

            unless you do assembly programming or assembly level programming such as that for making compilers

            Who knows, I might do some of that too...

            If you really like ISAs and register architectures, you'll most likely like CPUs other than x86, anyway (any of the load/store ones and/or those that are more orthagonal like the 68

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by walt-sjc (145127)
      Please correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the new intel processors cheaper, faster, and use less power than AMD at this point??? I must be missing something.

      But I'm with you - I banned the purchase of Dell machines in our company due to horrible quality and horrible customer service.
      • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes (679165) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:47AM (#15934154)
        They're faster, but not necessarily cheaper, certainly not when combined with a motherboard.

        Power usage is comparable, from the tests I've seen, with the Core 2 using a little less power at full load, but more power idling. Do note that this is against 3 year old tech.

        I'll be eagerly awaiting next year's releases.
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        Out of interest, what make do you use now? I always build my own PCs and am looking to recommend something to my brother. In particular, who make good laptops?
        • HP makes great laptops. I bought 20+ computers over the years and only the Dell (MCE) was garbage. Currently I have 2 HPs, one an UWXGA laptop that I punished for half a year yet it works perfectly.

          Honorable mention to IBM, based on a now-ancient Pentium III that is still working perfectly.

          • Punished for half a year? That's like saying you bought a car (yes, it's a fscking car analogy! Piss off!) and got your second oil change 750 kilometers further than you were supposed to, but it still runs great, so it must be a great car.

            Big stinking deal. Unless, by 'punish', you mean you regularly dropped it off tables, spilled coffee on it, etc.etc.

            I've got an IBM that a customer's kid spilled orange juice on. Consider how acidic orange juice is, and the fact that it was a full glass. Then consider
            • by jez9999 (618189)
              Yeah but this is for my brother so we won't be building it. :-) We just wanna buy one from a manufacturer, and I was thinking IBM too actually.
            • by Curtman (556920)
              This is just a standard IBM laptop. Nothing even remotely like a Panasonic Toughbook, or anything like that. Just a regular, black plastic Thinkpad. Try that with your HP.
              Legends of ThinkPad [ibm.com] is a great page. :)
        • In particular, who make good laptops?

          Apple and Lenovo.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          I'm using an HP/Compaq laptop, it's billed as a Compaq nw9440. This is their top of the line, or it was at the beginning of july when it came out anyway. Core Duo T2600, up to 4GB RAM, firewire, all USB ports are USB2, legacy-free, with nary a DIN or DB connector on't save for one S-Video output. Nearly full-HD resolution, fingerprint scanner, smartcard reader that I shall never use. GigE. 802.11b/g. Bluetooth. And I adore it. Everything works, even the crypto software, although who knows how secure it is :
        • In particular, who make good laptops?

          Define "good".

          Good for 5-8 years of use? Go with a business-class machine from Toshiba (Tecra M5), Lenovo (Thinkpad T60/T60p) or Apple (MacBook Pro and maybe the MacBook). All of those options are going to cost you $2000-$3000 for a fully configured and well-built machine with a 3 year or 5 year warranty.

          Good for playing games on? Look for a machine that has lots of bells and whistles but will only last 2-3 years.

      • by Syrrh (700452)
        The new line of Core2 processors are faster and cheaper, but only when comparing the top-shelf products. The 'average consumer' isn't going to be buying those except for the hype, and with a war of price cuts coming, the lower-market CPUs will be cheaper still.
      • by Wdomburg (141264)
        That's what Intel wants people to believe. :) In truth, they do seem to have the upperhand at this point, but not all their claims are straightforward. For example, Intel publishes TDP (thermal design power) ratings for "typical" draw while AMD publishes peak draw. Intel also requires an external memory controller, which adds to the power footprint of the system. Not to mention that AMD hasn't started releasing 65nm chips or integrated the new fab technoligies they've developed with IBM yet.

        In some be
        • btw is the intel C compiler issue with amd chips (the one where non intel chips are sent down a slow codepath despite having the required feature bits to say they can use the fast one) still ongoing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by setirw (854029)
      Intel has already fought back, by (attempting) to phase out the NetBurst architecture. It's unlikely that we'll see any significant Intel innovations any time soon, since the duration of R&D cycles seems to be 3-4 months.

      AMD's offerings probably won't significantly change either, since the 4x4 architecture it's been touting is irrelevant in the low-end desktop market.

      Unfortunately, innovation doesn't occur on-demand.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you thought the new processor offerings were impressive before, wait until you see Intel fighting back against this move to try to regain some market share.

      Yeah, I'm sure that it will be impressive innovation, like coming up with a new copyrighted name for a processor or something. As someone who worked in the semiconductor industry for many years, it is my opinion that Intel's greatest innovations have been in the area of hard-nosed marketing strategy.

  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@devinm o o r e .com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:33AM (#15934055) Homepage Journal
    How often does a switch like this happen? Dell goes AMD, Macintosh goes Intel, what's next? Microsoft goes Linux?! /head asplodes
    • What's next? I'm scared.

      "...human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... MASS HYSTERIA!"
      - Dr. Peter Venkmen in Ghostbusters
    • by stienman (51024) <adavis@u[ ]ics.com ['bas' in gap]> on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:32AM (#15934954) Homepage Journal

      Don't worry too much. "Dell switching to AMD?" is announced every six months for the last umpteen years. I usually see it as an opportunity for Dell to make a new deal with Intel.

      Maybe it'll actually happen this time, but if it does it'll still be 6 months or more before you see them for sale.

      But if it doesn't happen, you'll know that Intel (or Dell) caved. Again.

      Purely from a business standpoint, it's certainly easier and cheaper to support, stock, and build based on one architecture. Further, most businesses want to purchase Intel products, rather than AMD - it's the safe bet. "you'll never get fired for recommending wintel..."

      -Adam
    • by rvw (755107)
      Apple moved to Intel, and Microsoft moved to the PowerPC (Cell-processor) with their X-Box. A really big surprise would be if MS released Vista for Cell processors.
    • by kahrytan (913147)

      Microsoft could go Linux but in it's own way. It's called reverse engineering and rebuilding NT Kernel from ground up. It's called putting Linux's best features into a new NT Kernel.
  • Strange timing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:36AM (#15934082) Homepage Journal
    Dell announces the support of AMD chips in it's desktop lineup, on the heels of Intel's release of a cost/performance competitive desktop chip offering in the form of "Core 2". This sounds like a decision they made 2 years ago, that just now floated through the corporate channels into effect. Along with the other bad news we have been hearing from Dell lately, is it going to mean rough times ahead?
    • Re:Strange timing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:44AM (#15934138) Homepage
      Companies like Dell don't flip-flop just because the performance advantage has changed, or all the companies that were selling both Intel and AMD would have dropped Intel to only sell AMD, and vice versa, as the competitive advantage changed in previous years.

      While AMD's recent performance leadership (and more importantly 64-bit and server infrastructure leadership) have definitely had an impact on Dell's decision, the only thing that really would have made Dell change their tune is customer demand. Dell is selling AMD parts because their customers want it, and they're going to continue to do so as long as their customers want it.

      I think what's happened is that AMD has earned respect and is now seen as a true viable second source by even the most conservative of agencies, and given the choice most really would prefer to have a second option -- even if they buy all their computers from Dell.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by adam31 (817930)
        the only thing that really would have made Dell change their tune is customer demand.


        Well, that has been there for several years now. Perhaps because of the AMD lawsuit, Intel has had to tone down their vendor-bribing, and the revenue from AMD demand now outweighs the check Intel cuts to Dell.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chris Burke (6130)
          I don't really want to speculate on the effects of the lawsuit. It will in any event be decided by the facts gathered in discovery on past behavior, and even if Intel thinks they may lose it would make sense to continue leveraging their monetary advantage as long as possible.

          But I agree that Intel bribes definitely are relevent. Dell has threatened to sell AMD in the past, almost certainly as a way to keep Intel on their toes and giving freely from their coffers. Dell's decision to switch would have to t
    • by DNAtsol (678504)
      A couple of things may be at work here. First there is the AMD vs. Intel lawsuit http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/Downl oadableAssets/AMD-Intel_Full_Complaint.pdf [amd.com] that may have loosened Dell's willingness/ability to use AMD in it's line. Second, with Dell being such a large company (the Wal-mart of computer manufacturers) that should set up an ATI vs Nvidia type competition where this quarter it's Intel, next quarter it's AMD with the fastest/best chip. Fun for all! :).

      Finally, Dell has a lit
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Intel seem to have wrestled back the lead, but it has made Dell realise that AMD are not just a bit player. They have produced some great chips, and this has probably been influencing the people at dell for sometime.

      Intel have the lead now, but for how long. AMD is promising a better Quad-Core product, which may give them the advantage in the server space. Can Dell afford to ignore this? The people at Dell say no.
  • Price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kjart (941720) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:39AM (#15934100)

    Considering the new Intel chips coming out now (Core 2 Duo) seem to be destorying AMD performance wise, this would seem to be a price based decision on Dell's part. They are (for the most part) a discount hardware vendor so the recent, aggressive price cuts from AMD must have been too appealing for them to ignore.

    Also, ever since they introduced AMD on some of their servers it's seemed only a matter of time before that relatioship transfered to their desktop offerings. I would imagine, though, that their notebook lines will continue to use Intel as Intel continues to have the (perceived?) lead in that market.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Yes, although the new top of the line chips from intel seem to be outperforming AMD, the older cheaper processors from AMD seem to be much faster than Intel. I see Dell being able to offer a lot better low end machines by using AMD. I have a 3200+ at home, and it's blazing fast. I don't think i'll need it any faster for at least another 3 years.
      • It's not the top of the line Intel chips that win -- it's the newst chips: the Core 2 Duo covers the middle and upper range of chips ($183 up to $999). The Core 2 Duo architecture uses two cores (obviously) and shares the L2 cache (revolutionary, usually each core has a seperate L2). Combine that with Intel's advantage of advanced 65 nm tech (AMD still relies on 90 nm) and the new chips are impressive (especially for someone, like me, who had no faith in Intel).

        The cheapest of these chips (the E6300) is
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wdomburg (141264)
          The Core 2 Duo architecture uses two cores (obviously) and shares the L2 cache (revolutionary, usually each core has a seperate L2).

          Revolutionary? The POWER4 was sharing L2 cache between cores way back in 2001, followed by the UltraSparc IV+ in 2005.
    • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:01AM (#15934249)
      Considering the new Intel chips coming out now (Core 2 Duo) seem to be destorying AMD performance wise

      I hope the progress for AMD will now be volume -> cash -> more R&D - > better products.

      Over the years, I've gotten the vague feeling that AMD has better engineers who can do more with less. I hope the new volume will not only allow AMD to gear up the foundries, but all expand their R&D. I don't know the real figures, but I've always suspected the Intel has a lot more money to spend on research and development, and they still are only now starting to pull ahead on performance. I hope this deal will give AMD enough money to ramp up their R&D.

      If AMD could be competative with a smaller program, consider what the should be able to do with more money.
      • I wouldn't say AMD has better engineers per say. I think Intel just went down a marketing driven path with the Netburst architecture and in the end it hurt them. The Core2 chips seem to be a return to the good old Intel of solid engineering.
      • Over the years, I've gotten the vague feeling that AMD has better engineers who can do more with less.

        It seems like Intel has better manufacturing engineers, while AMD has better design engineers... or at least design engineers who aren't held back by marketing
      • Over the years, I've gotten the vague feeling that AMD has better engineers who can do more with less

        Might be true, but I've always suspected that AMD just have fewer managers to screw up the research.
    • by Brian Stretch (5304) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:13AM (#15934343)
      Intel's new chips won't stop AMD's share gains in the server market (no integrated memory controller, no HyperTransport, no 4P/8P options) and if you're standardizing on Opterons for your high-end x86 servers why not run AMD all the way down the line? How many corporate customers has Dell lost to HP because they had no Opteron option?

      Plus AMD hasn't done their 65nm trasition yet (shipments start end of this year). That should be enough to leapfrog Intel, depending on how many architectural tweaks they do while they're at it. AMD doesn't switch process nodes until they've figured out how to get mature yields (which they say they have), then they do a rapid changeover.

      Intel's C2D chips have got to be expensive to produce, what with their 2MB and 4MB L2 caches. I wonder what their yield rates are? Dell was probably worried about getting enough supply, especially with Apple getting first dibs now. Intel's strategy of throwing capacity at problems has to be becoming unsustainable, looking at their deteriorating balance sheet. (Ignore their income statement, that's much easier to manipulate. Cash is tougher to fake.)

      Worst case, Dell has seen what's coming at wants to get on AMD's good side now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MrNemesis (587188)
        Remember that (currently) Intel has much higher cache density than AMD, so can fit more cache in the same amount of silicon. AMD are meant to be adopting some new cache spec (sorry, I forget the buzzword involved, ZRAM maybe?) which will allow them a more competitive cache/silicon ratio, but I odn't think this is due out until K8L.

        Granted though, I'm amazed how well AMD's chips compare to the C2D's considering their aging design and lith process. A shift to 65nm will make them even more competitive, althoug
      • by john_uy (187459)
        intel uses 300mm wafer manufacturing with small die size. the area in each core can fit more per wafer than amd can giving intel a price advantage even with all the cache.

        intel released the new chips much earlier than planned due to their yields. intel got lucky in being able to ramp up yields in their 65nm manufacturing compared to 90nm.
    • by Shivetya (243324)
      perhaps the idea is to bring out dual processors to the 299 price point?

      the 3600x2 might get squeezed into a system at that pricepoint.

      I always felt that if AMD chips were going to get used by Dell it would be to push the low end price even lower than before. Right now that 299 desktops and 499 laptops. With AMD cutting prices perhaps Dell sees these numbers even lower. Bottom end single cores for 249 and laptops 449?

      Can't wait.
      • the 3600x2 might get squeezed into a system at that pricepoint.

        Since the X2 3800+ sells for ~$148, does anyone have information as to what the X2 3600+ chips are going to sell for? ne article [tgdaily.com] says that they're being released into the channel for $149 but that there would probably be price cuts.

        It would have to be down around $100 retail in order to compete with the low-end clearance of the old Intel 805 dual-core Pentium 4s.
    • by sdnoob (917382)

      aggressive price cuts from AMD must have been too appealing for them to ignore.

      it is amd's purchase of ati that finally sealed the deal with dell. amd can now provide their own integrated all-in-one platform just like intel: chipset, integrated video, processor and board design all from the same company. dell only has to deal with one vendor from engineering and board design to processor supply and drivers. amd could not singlehandedly do all of that, like intel can, until now.

  • EVIL AMD! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:40AM (#15934108)
    Now that AMD won't be the "poor but better underdog" we better start preparing ourselves to hate them!
    • by Carewolf (581105)
      The change is already underway. Intel for instance has always supported Linux more than AMD, but for long their investment have gone unnoticed.

      With Intel slowly loosing its soft monopoly, people are starting to like Intel for it Linux commitment.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Cyrix is now the underdog.
      let me gebin..A-Hem:
      Cyrix is great! the same speed but cheaper.
      Intel is using their monopoly to prevent vendors from use Cyrix!
  • Damn. (Score:4, Funny)

    by bryanporter (847667) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:41AM (#15934116) Homepage
    And here I was all hot and bothered, thinking they were going to move to Cyrix chips.

    Oh well.
  • by Caball (58351) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:42AM (#15934118)
    Although the article mentioned that AMD is increasing its capacity to produce chips, I have to wonder how supplying Dell is going to impact the little guy. Are there enough chips to go around for everyone? Will NewEgg and others start having shortages? The Enthusiast has always been in AMD's corner. With Intel releasing its new processors that run circles around AMD offerings and the potential for there to be shortages in the after-market, I have to wonder if AMD is trading one customer base for another.
  • by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:52AM (#15934186) Homepage

    Dell figured the reduced power consumption would leave more available for more effective explosions.

  • You miss out on all the phat AMD lewtz while they completely dominated Intel for years and years, and you finally decide to piss Intel off and start using AMD..... Just in time for Intel to take back the performance crown!!

    The only thing that would be better would be for you to "repent" and go back to exclusively Intel as soon as AMD's next gen launches.

    But you're not that stupid. Are you?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      I imagine that a Company like Dell can dominate and get a really sweet deal from AMD for their processors without being exclusive - something that offsets the exclusive contract they had with Intel. The performance crown does not really matter because it will probably change hands several times in the next few years, but AMD is still better for the Server Space - once Dell switched to that and got their Intel exclusivity contract voided, they might as well have AMD options down the line.

      I also wonder how I
      • The performance crown does not really matter because it will probably change hands several times in the next few years, but AMD is still better for the Server Space

        Fair 'nuff, though I think the new Xeons are pretty competitive with Opterons, at least at the 1-2 CPU part of the market. It's all a matter of leapfrog, and I have to wonder if the money they saved by being Intel's favored bride was more than the money they'd have earned selling AMD systems to enthusiasts and those who value enthusiast recommen
  • by pb (1020)
    I thought this day would never come--Dell has been practically synonymous with the WinTel monopoly for so long that I was almost positive that they had some incredibly sweet deal or long-term contractual obligation binding them to Intel and Microsoft. I guess, after all this time, it just wasn't worth it anymore--but considering the deal I got recently on a new Dual Core AMD64 3800+, maybe I shouldn't be as surprised as I am--it's all about the bottom line! Go AMD!
    • From the revised AMD zealot handbook: When intel has the bottom line, GO AMD! They have better performance! -- When intel has better performance, GO AMD! They have the bottom line!
      • by pb (1020)
        Actually, I generally consider both aspects together--it's all about the price/performance ratio, baby! (Go AMD! :))

        However, for companies like Dell, it's all about their bottom line--and in combination with whatever deals they may have in place with vendors and manufacturers, that's a vastly different computation.
  • by Jeppe Salvesen (101622) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:56AM (#15934217)
    I mean - Dell had a super deal with Intel. Then Apple cut a deal with Intel. And now Dell is embracing AMD.

    Interesting.

    Anyhow, here's what I expect happened:

    Once Dell committed itself to AMD servers, then the deal with Intel was invalidated. This was a known: Dell gambles that the increased sales will offset the lost savings. Also, the move towards AMD will (Dell hopes) reinvigorate Dell's image. Currently, we think of Dell as being a boring, greedy company producing yesterday's solutions.

    Ironically, this happens at a time when Core 2 Duo finally seems to win Intel the performance upper hand for the first time in a long while.
    • "Currently, we think of Dell as being a boring, greedy company producing yesterday's solutions."

      They just desperately want to hold on to that image :) like apple wants to hold on to theirs :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Metroid72 (654017)
      I disagree. What's happened with Dell is that their strategy was based around having the most efficient operations. They were able to pass savings to the consumer on demand due to their tremendous supply chain and just in time capabilities. Sadly, this strategy is imitable - your competitors are bound to catch up. (Now HP does this too now)

      Another big blow to them was the whole overseas support thing. Imagine hordes of people having problems with defects, bugs and spyware trying to get good support from
  • The more I think about it, the more it has to do with beating HP and Gateway back down. HP (Compaq) and Gateway (eMachines) made quite a bit by embracing AMD in the last year after years of trying to be a Dell copycat by being Intel only. Of course, the question is whether it was actually the usage of AMD that made the difference or just the fact that there's still quite a lot of people who would still buy at retail stores (+ the low price).
  • Is it not every month I see this same story recycled? Or is that the story where Dell is offering Linux installed as an option for its desktops?
    • No kidding. My first thought was "Again?". I've seen this exact same thing a dozen times over the past few years, lots of speculation, then suddenly, "Nope, we're sticking with Intel".

      This one seems to be a tad more official though. Good, I won't buy anything that Intel touches.
      • I like Intel for network chipsets and when I wanted to build a Solaris 10 x86 machine I chose the venerable Tualatin dual P3 for the platform mostly because of low price and low power consumption. For desktops and 64 bit computing it's AMD all the way.
  • My 2 Cents. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoctorDyna (828525) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:42AM (#15934551)
    I tend to see this not really as a "flip" to AMD processors as some people seem to insinuate, but rather "an incorporation", so it gives them a little more flexibility when selling machines. They most likely just want to capture a little more market. The part of the market they were missing out on was the AMD fans, and hardcore gamers. Seeing as how they have been toying with the idea of a Quad SLi rig, it seems only natural that they would also toy with processors that have been billed (until core 2 duo) as being better for gaming.

    I wouldn't put it past other manufacturers to also try this, thinking that they can make more extra money selling both types of systems, rather than save a few bucks per CPU being exclusive, under contract.

  • AMD Marketing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Derlum (216320)
    I wonder when AMD found out about this from Dell -- I would guess a few months ago. I never remember AMD being very big on advertising, which to me was a good thing because it (hopefully) meant that the kind of money Intel was spending on silly Blue Man Group commercials was instead going towards better chips at AMD (R&D, QA, etc). But just in the last month or two, I've seen AMD ads springing up in NYC and Philadelphia on billboards and bus stops, probably trying to increase brand recognition. I hop
    • I wonder when AMD found out about this from Dell -- I would guess a few months ago. I never remember AMD being very big on advertising, which to me was a good thing because it (hopefully) meant that the kind of money Intel was spending on silly Blue Man Group commercials was instead going towards better chips at AMD (R&D, QA, etc). But just in the last month or two, I've seen AMD ads springing up in NYC and Philadelphia on billboards and bus stops, probably trying to increase brand recognition. I hope i

  • Didn't Dull announce some time ago that it will sell AMD servers? I just went to the Dull website and couldn't find a single AMD product. I then searched for AMD. The first match was 64-bit RedHat. The second match was SpaceBall 5000. etc. Where's AMD? Is this announcement simply an attempt for Intel to look better in light of the antitrust lawsuit?
  • Dell & mergers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kuvter (882697)
    Dell bought out Alienware a few months back and didn't 86 AMD from Alienware's line up. I don't think it's a big shocker that Dell will now sell AMD's in their main online store. For all we know it might just be the rollover from Alienware's warehouse.

    What I'm more interested in is what'll happen because of the ATI and AMD merger.
  • Magic Genies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shoolz (752000) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:37AM (#15935004) Homepage
    I like AMD, but Dell could put magic genies in their boxes and I would never buy one. Generally non-upgradeable, pre-installed spyware, and abysmal tech support.

    My mother spent 6 months on the phone to India 'tech support' trying to get her box to stop hanging until the Dell tech finally came and swapped her NIC.

    Put what you want in the box, Dell, I and anyone else in the know ain't buying.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:28PM (#15935465) Homepage
      I like AMD, but Dell could put magic genies in their boxes and I would never buy one.

      Well yeah, but that's just common sense. Djinnis sound great, but anyone who has ever read any mythology involving them knows that their wishes always come with unexpected twists and downsides.

      For example, you might ask your djinni to compute the turbulence vectors around the air intake of the fighter jet you are designing. And he would instantly do so using single-precision floating point and the wrong rounding mode! Whoa betide those who trust in the djinni!
  • by Leperflesh (200805) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:44AM (#15935080) Homepage Journal
    As geeks, we're most concerned with the top-of-the-line desktop chips. But it's a mistake to think that's the most important factor in the market. Companies like Dell don't make the majority of their profits from highly-informed, single-PC-buying gamers and linux nerds. Their bread-and-butter is the business desktop and server market, followed in second place by the fairly uninformed home PC buying family.

    For businesses, decisions about what to buy are made on a large scale, based more on budgetary and standardization factors than on which chip has the absolute top performance in its price class this week. My company picks a standard model and sticks to it for months at a time, sometimes more than a year. It might buy thousands of desktops and laptops during that time, as well as dozens or a few hundred servers.

    Dell is just trying to grab market share. AMD owns 20% of the desktop market now. That Intel's Core Duo is the price/performance winner this month is a blip on the screen - the larger trend is all that matters to Dell. They need to get at that 20% of the market they're missing, because it represents money left on the table in their primary sector. No business can stay in business if it is in the habit of leaving its customers' money on the table.

    What has been holding Dell back historically is twofold - sure, there's whatever exclusive deal they had with Intel, and that is significant. But there's also the (historical) inability of AMD to ship large quantities of a given part on release. Dell does not want to be in the position of turning down or delaying shipment of large orders by its most important (corporate) customers, for lack of parts. AMD has only recently (in the last two or three years maybe) been able to show reliable ability to ship the kinds of quantities that Dell requires. So, now that it can, it becomes a Dell vendor.

    So, it doesn't matter all that much to Dell if Intel's Core Duo is in the lead currently. That's a short-term question, of what to package on its current models next quarter maybe. Right now it is concerned with meeting the demands of existing customers, and those existing customers are working from certified models and budget numberes that were determined on paper months ago. I doubt any major company is purchasing Core Duo machines for its employees this week - very few are that proactive and quick with purchasing decisions.

    As for next quarter, and the quarter after that - well, Dell will use whatever part makes the most sense, for each model in each product line at each price point and discount level. For some, that probably will mean a core duo platform - but assuradly, now that they have signed the agreement, they will have some Athlon models - and they'll sell some. I'd expect AMD single-chip (dual and single core) desktops to make up something like 5% to 10% of next quarter's shipped desktop units, and maybe a good 15% of next quarter's shipped server units.

    Dell's home market will be mostly mid to low-end dell desktops, using whatever chip is at the $50 to $80-each (in 1000-tray quanitites) price point that month. Leaving AMD out of that equation would be a mistake, again irrespective of Core Duo vs. Athlon 64 x2 price/performance points. The cheapest Athlon 64 X2 is still well above $100 each in quantity - and Core 2 Duo is around $200 minimum. They are only a small portion of even the home desktop market at this point, so which of the two is fastest isn't really that relevant to Dell.

    -Lep
    • by glsunder (241984)
      Dell is just trying to grab market share. AMD owns 20% of the desktop market now.

      So now AMD has both the chicken and the egg. Hopefully they won't blow it.
  • Cause or effect? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink (130905) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:54AM (#15935179) Journal
    Is this the cause or effect of the Intel-Apple deal? Or totally unrelated?

    Could it have been Dell trying to use AMD to haggle for lower prices from Intel and taking it a bit too far, and Apple seizing the opportunity to strike a deal with Intel?

    And next thing you know, Apple gets a Dell-style deal from Intel, and Dell ends up with "humpty dumpty" on its face.

    IBM and HP might now be having a moment of schadenfreude...

    As for AMD's quad cores saving them, I don't see any significant core changes. No core changes = just the usual scaling = not going to beat Core 2 Duo or Woodcrest - which are now better per GHz and faster overall.

    Maybe AMD stuff will win for 8 way servers (4 socket x 2 cores, or 8 socket), but the market for 8 way is pretty small at the moment.

    As for 2 socket x 4 cores, AFAIK quad core means the 4 cores will share the socket's memory, so I don't see how that is going to be much better than Intel.
  • Wow, Dell. Intel just released the best CPUs the industry has seen in years and NOW you decide to use AMD? What timing.

    Yes, I suspect Dell isn't switching completely, but still the timing is particularly amusing.

  • This again? (Score:2, Informative)

    by tashanna (409911)

    Not [slashdot.org] this [slashdot.org] again [slashdot.org]. Come [slashdot.org] on [slashdot.org] editors [slashdot.org], really [slashdot.org]!

    - Tash [tashcorp.net]

  • by WoTG (610710) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @01:34AM (#15939067) Homepage Journal
    The rumors had been making a LOT more sense the last couple months, so it got to the point where I figured the Dell deal was already signed.

    First, Dell had already broken it's Intel only stance by committing to offering AMD Quad CPU servers.

    Second, the ATI purchase and NY fab announcements were so close together that for the banks to finance the purchases (with loans rather than shares!), someone signing the loan offer had to be very convinced that business was going to be growing.

    Third, Dell isn't stupid. AMD's share, especially in servers, was getting to the point where Dell would start to loose a noticable number of corporate sales. If a mid-sized company wants to standardize on one vendor for servers and workstations, then sooner or later Dell starts to loose workstation and laptop sales. The Opterons were that good in the server area -- and while Woodcrest servers seem to be excellent, it's a new server architecture, and it takes a lot of time for a company to validate a new CPU.

    Lastly, AMD has all the pieces of the puzzle now. They've got more than one fab (granted they're next door to each other, but at least they've started production via a contract fab, Chartered). They've got the full range of chips -- the Turion mobiles are reasonably power competitive. And with the ATI purchase, AMD is able to offer the complete reference design and support.

    So, IMHO it was a matter of time.
  • toolittletoolate
  • amd has been able to add new fabs (contracted) to their product line. i believe the latest was from chartered that just shipped this july.

    given this, i believe that dell has just been waiting for amd to be able to supply them with the chips they need. amd of course will not stop shipping to other vendors just to supply dell.

    this is just timing on the products. i believe the product line for dell will increase as amd will be able to ramp up production through its own and 3rd party foundries.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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