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What Went Wrong for AMD's AM2? 318

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hindsight-is-perfect dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When AM2 was first announced it seemed like it was going to be a guaranteed hit. After all, this platform would be moving the tremendously successful socket 939 into the future with its use of DDR2 memory, a greatly increased memory bandwidth, hardware virtualization, and a number of exciting new CPUs. Despite everything AM2 had going for it, this includes a dedicated enthusiast base and a tremendous amount of pro-AMD spirit at the time, the new platform has largely been dismissed by consumers. The question now is, what happened? How did AMD go from record growth and being the darling of enthusiasts to having a new platform which failed to impress?"
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What Went Wrong for AMD's AM2?

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  • What went wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What went wrong with AMD's AM2?

    Core 2 Duo?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tavor (845700)
      Ah, but it is more than Conroe Duo. But to make a very quick summary of the article, it is this: cost.
      The cost of replacing a 939 system with AM2 doesn't justify the price point.
  • Article reposted (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:27AM (#16242319)
    Before it gets slashdotted, or if you don't want 3 pages with ads -- here's most of the text.
    --
    Before we get started it should be made clearly that despite what people may say, AM2 does make for a capable computer. We took a look at an AM2 build based on an Asus M2N32 SLI motherboard not too long ago and were happy with the system. The disappointment in AM2 is not a result of its failure to perform, but rather the failure to match the performance gains seen in the move to the K8 platform. Our testing has confirmed what the industry at large has found to be true- the move to AM2 should bring performance gains of about 3-10% when compared to socket 939, with an average increase below 5%. This is what we would comfortably call an "incremental" performance boost, but nothing more.

    So what happened to AM2? Where did things go wrong for AMD, a company that was on a legendary upswing, during which it could seemingly do no wrong. Even with reasonable pricing, a well-timed release date, and high availability AM2 was unable to take off in a way that was commensurate with its potential.

    1. Conroe
    An appreciably part of the success of sockets 754 and 939 were due to a colossal blunder on the part of Intel: Netburst. This architecture was kept around since 2001 and was always being improved in piecemeal, rather than simply being replaced. The whole episode was capped off by an unimpressive dual core architecture that was kept alive practically on price alone. During this time (754 came out in fall 2003 and 939 came in early summer 2004) AMD did their homework and put out the impressive but short-lived socket 754 and then 939.

    But the landscape was changing by the time AM2's release date was announced. Intel had released its Core architecture and the word had begun to spread about Conroe, what would come to be known as Core 2 Duo. Early benchmarking by a number of hardware sites not only let consumers know that AM2 would be a slight performance increase, but that Conroe would be a dramatic one. By the time AM2 was available Core 2 Duo was one of the most highly anticipated processors of all time and AM2 was the "also ran". There was no way that AMD could compete with Intel's marketing clout, regardless of the performance or previous successes.

    2. AM2 is setting up AMD for the future
    As good as 939 was, it could only last for so long. AMD had to start to look towards the future, which meant moving to DDR2 memory, increasing the availability of memory bandwidth, launching a platform for improved chipsets and the like. Improvements must be done in stages: Socket 754 brought 64-bit, 939 brought dual core, dual channel memory, and mass acceptance of PCI Express video, and AM2 would bring us DDR2. AM2 may not be terribly exciting, but it is paving the way for K8L, AM3, and AMD's 4x4.

    3. AM2 is confusing
    Unless you follow the processor market closely, AM2 can be confusing. The naming convention "AM2" or "M2" is much different from 754 or 939 and a little investigation reveals that AM2's socket uses 940 pins. As you may recall AMD has already has a socket 940, it came out along with 754 and was used for Opteron and high-end FX systems. Despite the numerical similarity AM2 and 940 are extremely different and are not compatible with one another. Once consumers get past that they will have to figure out the processor they want, more than a few of which have the same name as their 939 counterpart.

    4. 939 was too great
    OK, a platform can't perform too well, but the success of 939 meant that in order to top it AMD would have to do bring something really innovative. They were clearly unable to do so (or did not intend to) so most 939 owners were never inclined to upgrade. The strong performance of 939, the availability of cheap processors and great motherboards, and the overclockability of most systems meant that convincing people to upgrade has been difficult. A new system would require a new motherboard, memory, and a CPU in the very least, possibly more if the user was upgrading from a
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jacquesm (154384)
      how about the opteron ? X64 is where it's at, I'm running a whole bunch of them and nothing intel will sell you at a reasonable price comes even close.

      they're cool running, very stable and debian etch runs like a charm on them (I had to fiddle a bit to get sarge running on them, especially mysql).
      • Re:Article reposted (Score:5, Interesting)

        by evanjfraser (1007315) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:31AM (#16242585)
        Well, the Woodcrest is spanking the opterons at present, I just got done benchmarking the new AMD chip vs the Intel woodcrest for PRMAN and Shake rendering and the AM2 is between 20% slower and 50% slower for what we want to do and the Opteron 280's are about as fast (core for core) as our aging 2.8GHz Xeons

        To add to that, our reliability record for AMD systems is mindblowingly shocking. Having purchased 65 Dual 280 Opterons, we've had problems with ~60% of them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by speculatrix (678524)
          our reliability record for AMD systems is mindblowingly shocking

          I'll agree with that, a lot of the early opteron boxes we bought at $JOB-1 had problems - I think that Tyan rushed out the motherboards in the Black Box Servers and they were not very robust. That said, Black Box Server's build was quite poor too.

          • Re:Article reposted (Score:5, Informative)

            by racermd (314140) on Friday September 29, 2006 @09:00AM (#16244297)
            To answer the original post of "Why isn't AM2 as successful as it could have been?", I offer the following:

            1: Timing - Intel was already releasing chipsets that offered most of the major features that AM2 brought. Namely, that's DDR2 support. Put simply, AMD waited just a little too long to get the AM2 platfor out the door. I remember seeing (very eager) questions about when AMD would be releasing a platform that supports DDR2, but AMD stated - and I'm paraphrasing, here - "You don't need DDR2, yet. See? Look at the performance numbers." While this is true, they missed the perfect opportunity to hit a market at peak interest. As AMD delayed the rollout, interest waned. By the time they brought it to market, it appeared that most of the buzz they generated was gone.

            2: Poor release - After telling everyone that they didn't yet need the features that AM2 would have brought them, they failed to re-generate the buzz and interest in the product upon release. Most people I know (myself included) really are perfectly happy with the performance of Socket 939 and DDR. I have no interest in buying an AM2 system mainly because the performance gains I'd get by upgrading nearly my entire system isn't worth it. I suspect that many others feel the same. This attitude is a direct result of AMD's earlier position on the lack of performance benefits of DDR2 and the other new technologies.

            In other words, AMD missed the boat with AM2 and they have nobody but themselves to blame. I suspect their teams could feel the consumer anticipation, but just didn't have a product ready to get out the door. And, instead of releasing a half-finished platform, they decided to downplay the seemingly minor advantages until their product was made ready. Adjusting consumer expectations in that manner killed the interest in their newest offerings mainly because it they didn't bring anything new that Intel wasn't offering.

            Just my $.02
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by JebusIsLord (566856)
              I recently upgraded to an AM2 system, and here is my reasoning:

              I was running an Athlon XP 3200+ box (actually an overclocked 2500+), AGP graphics and DDR memory. It was time for a complete overhaul, and yeah - i guess I could have gone socket 939 and kept my RAM, but I figured future upgradability to K8L was worth the loss (and anyhow I only had 1GB of it, and didn't want to buy more DDR).

              This was about a month ago, and Core2 Duos were hard to find, expensive, and the boards even more so. I was looking at a
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by _damnit_ (1143)
                When I upgraded to 939 from Socket A/AGP, I found the ASRock Dual 939 had an AM2 upgrade path. It should allow me to piecemeal my upgrade to AM2, PCI Express, DDR2. I have had great success with the board and love the ability to slowly upgrade to the next level. I am not one to brag about a commercial product, but this one has been a great buy.

                I have been Intel free on the desktop since the K6 200Mhz. I have a Core Duo laptop and a Core 2 Duo coming soon. The performance is enough to make me consider j
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jean-guy69 (445459)
          From which manufacturer these systems came from ?

          Here we have 8 dual-processor server with two opteron 265 each, 2 dual-processor servers with opteron 244. Everything was built by a local integrator using good "made-for-servers" components like tyan motherboards..

          These servers are used in different sites, often under suboptimal conditions, some of them had to run with a 35+ C ambient temperature for several days.

          We haven't seen the beginning of a hardware problem with any of these servers.

          Yes sample is smal
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:27AM (#16242327)
    Why should anything be wrong with the AM2 platform?
    Nothing.
    It is just an evolutionary step for the AMD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Znork (31774)
      Indeed. I really dont get the point. AM2 is simply a platform change; basically just a couple of lines drawn differently on the motherboard. And a new memory standard that's just not that big a deal (and, iirc, the reason it was a big deal at the Socket A introduction was that ordinary SDRAM performance really sucked and nobody wanted to touch RDRAM with a ten foot pole even if they could afford it, creating a huge up market demand for that specific change).

      The only consumers who have a reason to care at al
      • by dc29A (636871) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:15AM (#16242709)
        Indeed. I really dont get the point. AM2 is simply a platform change; basically just a couple of lines drawn differently on the motherboard. And a new memory standard that's just not that big a deal (and, iirc, the reason it was a big deal at the Socket A introduction was that ordinary SDRAM performance really sucked and nobody wanted to touch RDRAM with a ten foot pole even if they could afford it, creating a huge up market demand for that specific change).

        I am not sure if the memory standard isn't a big deal. It probably helped Dell adopt AMD, since they need same memory (DDR2) for Intel boxes, so Dell won't have to have 2 suppliers for memory.

        This new memory might help also with quad cores and beyond. Right now the single/dual core AM2 is not bandwith starved (tests give DDR2 an edge of 3-5%), but that might change with quad cores and beyond where HT and faster memory could supply the cores where Intel CPUs might starve with a shared bandwith of 1033 or 1333 MHZ.
        • by Znork (31774) on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:17AM (#16243007)
          "This new memory might help also with quad cores and beyond."

          True, and if AMD had waited with the platform upgrade until memory starvation did become an issue, the newer motherboards would have had a greater advantage compared to the old ones. So, complaining about the incremental nature of the change and lackluster performance increase means complaining about AMD being proactive and adressing the potential problem before it becomes serious.

          I suspect some reviewers are a bit bored and are just fishing for hits, because as far as I can tell, if AM2 isnt living up to expectations in some particular fashion, it's the expectations that are off, not the actual hardware.
        • by Phleg (523632)

          This new memory might help also with quad cores and beyond.
          Not really. The huge factor involving multi-core processors is sharing caches. While I'm sure it'll have some benefit, it's not something holding back further improvements.
      • The memory standard is not a big deal yet, because the old DDR standard with 2 channels (Socket 939) is good enough for the current dual cores. But as TFA says, it is an investment in the future because with quad cores the demand for more bandwidth will come.
        I think introducing AM2 would have become necessary anyway, and it was smart of AMD to do it a few months ago while they still had the lead in performance. Pushing such a change to market would be more difficult now, because people have better alternati
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ocbwilg (259828)
      Why should anything be wrong with the AM2 platform? Nothing. It is just an evolutionary step for the AMD.

      I agree, nothing went wrong. The only point that I think that the article was right on was cost. Since the performance difference between the current generation of AM2 processors and 939 processors is so small (or almost negligible), the average consumer is buying based on price. And since 939 processors and systems are still available, though less "desirable" from being "older tech", the prices ar
    • Perceved difference (Score:3, Interesting)

      by IPFreely (47576)
      Perception is all that changed.

      AMD is still running their plants at capacity or greater. They are still selling everything they make. If they could make more they could sell more.

      The only thing holding them back now is manufacturing capacity. It was nice when they were preceved as being the best, but as long as they can sell everything they make, then they are doing fine.

      The biggest problem is price pressure from Intel. And they don't actually have to match Intels price straight out. They only have to ba

  • ...is that Athlon64 performed suberbly on DDR memory. Hence, the move to DDR2 is a lackluster. Now that DDR2 no longer has the price premium it did, AMD needs to come up with a new CPU architecture to take advantage of it. Or maybe more or less skip to DDR3 anyway.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by slaida1 (412260)
      For me AM2/DDR2 is disappointment because it eats into the one thing Athlon64 was and is still, despite DDR2, superior over Intel's offers: low memory latency. DDR can't be run as high clocks than DDR2 but has lower latency, DDR2 feels like oldschool "MHz is everything" piece and AMD dumped DDR for it? Intel changed their game with huge caches and suddenly inegrated memory controllers don't matter anymore because there's so much cache. AMD is going to be left in the dust again unless they can offer somethin
      • by LehiNephi (695428)
        While it is true that latency is worse with DDR2 than with DDR, AMD still has the latency advantage over Intel because of their on-board memory controller. Yes, AMD's latency is worse now than it was with DDR, but it's still better than Intel.

        Besides, it all comes down to performance, and I don't see anybody complaining about the performance of DDR2.
  • Asked, answered. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shmlco (594907) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:32AM (#16242347) Homepage
    How did AMD go from record growth and being the darling of enthusiasts to having a new platform which failed to impress?"

    Question asked, question answered. It failed to impress, and they let Intel jump ahead.

    One only has to look at the seesaw video card wars between ATI and NVIDIA to realize the truth. The people who care about such things are a fickle lot. Let one or the other realize a huge gain in performance and odds are that most people--even "loyal" customers--will jump ship in a second.

    And if you don't care about such things, then... well, you don't care. So there's no demand, and you might as well have a hamster cage inside the box.
    • by Jekler (626699) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:48AM (#16242629)
      When I was younger, I had (misplaced) loyalties to certain brands. Now that I've matured, I realize that AMD, Intel, ATI, NVIDIA, Microsoft... none of them have actually done me any favors. In the past I was loyal to AMD, ATI, and 3DFX - it was like I had some kind of "underdog" complex. I have come to understand that these companies are the technology equivilant of Nike and Reebok. They want us to be fanatical and pick sides like they're our friends, but they're not friends, they just want cash. With that in mind, I no longer pick my processors or video cards based on brand loyalty. I study some benchmarks, examine some price comparisons, and go with the winner. There are other companies, like many GNU/Linux developers, GNU/Linux distributors, and Google, that HAVE done favors for me and that actually warrants loyalty. But for all those companies I'm paying for a product, they've got me only as long as theirs is the best.
      • by LordLucless (582312) on Friday September 29, 2006 @07:10AM (#16243313)
        It depends on why you have brand loyalty. Personally, I prefer nVidia stuff because all the ATI gear I've bought has had annoying driver/software problems. I have loyalty to nVidia, not because I think they are better in some abstract sense, but because based on past experience, their products have delivered more of what I'm looking for. Same for AMD; I used to buy AMD because, again, based on past experience, I could get a similar performance from a cheap AMD cheap as an Intel. All other things being equal (cost, price, performance, etc), I am more likely to go with a brand to whom I'm loyal - but they've got to have earned that loyalty by having a history of quality products. The important thing is to realize why you have loyalty to a certain brand, and be willing to re-evaluate your position when the quality of the brand you favour starts dropping.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548)
        I can see one having loyalty to GNU/Linux, after all, being community based, people can take and receive from it directly at a personal level. But Google? They actually did you a favour? As in, they did something that they otherwise would not have done for your personal benefit? Or even the benefit of a group of people that you are a part of? I would sincerely love to know what this is.

        Brand loyalty can often be because a customer believes in a philosophy of a company's activities. A prime example would be
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        When I was younger, I had (misplaced) loyalties to certain brands.
        With that in mind, I no longer pick my processors or video cards based on brand loyalty.

        Congratulations. You've made the very hard jump from consumer to capitalist.

        There are other companies, like many GNU/Linux developers, GNU/Linux distributors, and Google, that HAVE done favors for me and that actually warrants loyalty.

        Careful. You're slipping.

  • Three words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oskard (715652) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:32AM (#16242355)
    CORE 2 DUO.

    It just did, really, really, unexpectedly well. It is a good processor and has changed a lot of peoples opinions about the processor market and AMD's (and Intel's) competitiveness. I appreciate the fact that Intel, the top dog, is still willing to put up a fight and compete in price, performance, and power in a market that they already dominate.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:46AM (#16242431)
      CORE 2 DUO.

      Actually, that's only two words (and a number).
    • Core 2 Duo > incremental change. Seriously, that's pretty much it. AMD got caught with a platform change that added little benefit to the consumer and Intel came out with a big whooping stick. Now, everyone's waiting for 4x4, etc.
    • by Svartalf (2997)
      Only. Really. Impressive. In. 32. Bits.

      64-bit mode, they're not as compelling- and the reviews people are looking at
      are with CPUs that have an unholy amount of L2 Cache (And are actually more
      expensive for part price and per cycle than AMD's offerings...). It's in the
      domain of 4 megabytes of L2 compared to to the best AM2's 2 megs of L2. Of
      COURSE it's going to be "faster".

      Intel came to the plate with something I'll now consider in some applications-
      but is it compelling enough to buy nothing but? Nope. Ri
  • Core 2 Duo Happened (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alereon (660683) * on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:37AM (#16242381)
    AM2 really is an excellent platform, it consolidated AMD's Value, Mid-Range, and High-End market segments into a single platform. The reason it's not viable in the larger market-wide Enthusiast, Performance, and High-End segments is simply that Core 2 Duo rapes it. If you're already considering spending the money for a higher-end Athlon 64 X2 or FX processor, you can move to a Core 2 Duo-based platform that will destroy the AMD options performance-wise by a margin that is nearly unprecedented while still providing good power and heat usage. Basically, if the market was perfectly rational and had no transition times, all systems would be AMD AM2-based until you reached high enough prices that it was cost-effective to use a Core 2 Duo, and the P4 and Celerons would be merely a bad memory. AMD's aquisition of ATI helps it in this regard, as ATI has been making some chipsets that are very reliable, very fast, and rather inexpensive. ATI definitely has the best integrated graphics solution in the laptop market, and AMD's Turion 64 X2 is more competitive here than the Athlon 64 X2 is in the desktop arena.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gnuber (605327)
      ATI definitely has the best integrated graphics solution in the laptop market
      Not if you, like many Slashdotters, run Linux. In that case, Intel's open source graphics drivers are a no brainer [com.com].
      • by cortana (588495)
        Unfortunately you then have to put up with Intel's binary and proprietary Regulatory Enforcement Daemon.
    • ATI definitely has the best integrated graphics solution in the laptop market

      ATI can't write drivers, not to mention their almost complete lack of support for anything not Windows.
  • Oh Woe is AMD! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segedunum (883035) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:38AM (#16242385)
    I found the article a bit desperate to be honest in trying to portray some sort of honeymoon period being over for AMD. So AMD have released a product that wasn't in itself bad, but just didn't have enough gains about it over what had gone before for people to really go for it. So what? This just means that what went before was pretty damn good, isn't goint to be improved on much and is going to be hard to beat. For Intel, of course, beating what had gone before wasn't hard at all ;-).

    The only major gains AMD are going to make is when they shift to a new 65nm process and then kick off a newer architecture from there.
  • by A Wise Guy (1006169) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:39AM (#16242389)
    Currently, my pc runs fast, i can do everything I want on it and easily. Plus I am running an amd 3200. I have not been willing to update anything because my pc runs just fine. If I upgrade now, vista is around the corner and also unreal 2007. I want to make sure I can run the game when I get it. I also have not forked out for a new video card since I am running AGP. The last card I can use to upgrade my rig to play at least the current flock of games nicely is the 7800gs+ agp. This pc is going to become a Linux box to run unreal 2007 and I have no intention of updating until i see some benchmarks. at the moment, it runs just fine just like every person I know who owns a pc and does not wish to update. There is also HD video playback, HD video editing, currently, people are asking me about this and I keep telling them the technology is coming and there is no reason to update because your pc needs to be hdmi ready which current new brands and video cards are just barely getting into it. Current flock of technology is no reason to upgrade and most people I know are still making rediculous payments for the current pc's to lowsy dell and circuit city.
    • Great comment. Lucid, full of common sense and a fine reality check for all those companies who tell us we HAVE to upgrade, when actually our current systems can easily run 99% of what we do.

      But seriously, you must be new to post something like this on /.!

    • Yup I'm in the same place.Actually I'm a little further behind you even with an Athlon XP 2800 and a crappy old radeon 9000. But if I want to upgrade I have to get a new mobo, new cpu, new video cards and possibly new RAM. That is a major outlay of cash right there. I would love to upgrade my video card right now, but its pretty silly to spend $100 now for a decent one only to have to replace it when I get a board with PCI-e.

      When Vista comes out the unwashed masses will rush out and buy a bunch of new ha

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)
      There is also HD video playback, HD video editing, currently, people are asking me about this and I keep telling them the technology is coming and there is no reason to update because your pc needs to be hdmi ready

      Anything that needs HDMI will not be edittable. HDMI is only necessary to support DRM, not to support any technical requirements of HD and DRM, as its backer's perceive it, precludes editting.

      I play back and edit raw HD transport streams on my AGP system all the time and since they have no DRM it
  • writeup? wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:43AM (#16242409) Homepage
    Despite everything AM2 had going for it, this includes a dedicated enthusiast base and a tremendous amount of pro-AMD spirit at the time, the new platform has largely been dismissed by consumers. The question now is, what happened? How did AMD go from record growth and being the darling of enthusiasts to having a new platform which failed to impress?

    well, the article itself answers this question in the first paragraph:

    The disappointment in AM2 is not a result of its failure to perform, but rather the failure to match the performance gains seen in the move to the K8 platform. Our testing has confirmed what the industry at large has found to be true- the move to AM2 should bring performance gains of about 3-10% when compared to socket 939, with an average increase below 5%. This is what we would comfortably call an "incremental" performance boost, but nothing more.
    • Seems to me that the article was written this way by design. It is (in somewhat silly fashion) regarded as the "upside down pyramid" style of composition. Via [technocrat.net]:

      Write in an "inverted pyramid" style. That means that the most important fact goes in the first sentence, then the second most important fact, and so on followed by facts of progressively diminishing importance. This allows the reader to get the most from any story without necessarily reading the entire story. When the facts reach a level that i

  • hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alfius (886617)
    Intel could sell super computers at half the price of AMDs budget range and I'd still never run my main gaming machine on an intel. I don't care how good conroe looks its still supported by old chipsets (NF4 usually) and as far as I know has issues with SLI due to dodgy old chipsets. AM2 is the future, as a platform its superior in all but the processor front and as mentioned in the article I believe that AMD have many more tricks up their sleeves with the AM2 before they move to another socket. Intel see
  • VHS vs Beta (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NuShrike (561140) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:45AM (#16242427)
    Conroe (VHS) gives you more for less than AMD(Beta)'s superior Hypertransport and on-cpu memory controller. Conroe entirely stole the thunder of AM2, and consequently AM3.

    When you can get a Core 2 Duo E6600 and have it crush an FX-62 and at a fraction of a FX-62's price... It's the same formula as always, price to bang. You get more bang with 939, or go straight to Core 2 Duo.

    You could always argue time. AMD folks are used to living a long time on a socket type. 939 was only around about a year before AM2 came, whereas 754 and the previous socket 7 were very, very long lived. In another couple years, maybe AM2/3 will pick up steam, but it's too early.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``When you can get a Core 2 Duo E6600 and have it crush an FX-62 and at a fraction of a FX-62's price... It's the same formula as always, price to bang.''

      Does Intel actually win there? I mean, it's not just the CPU, you need a motherboard that supports it, too. How do the prices of complete systems based on E6600 and a comparable FX stack up?
      • Re:VHS vs Beta (Score:5, Informative)

        by nxtw (866177) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:58AM (#16242913)
        Motherboards vary by about $10 for comparable features. Seems like the AMD fanboy is just grasping for straws here...

        Core 2 motherboards start at $46 (Newegg; VIA chipset) and Athlon 64 FX AM2 motherboards start at $47 (Newegg; SiS chipset).

        A motherboard with an Intel chipset can be found at $66, while a AM2 motherboard with the nForce 410 can be found for $57.

        The cheapest SLI board for Intel costs $78 (rebate). The cheapest SLI board for AMD costs $85 (sale). Their original prices were $97 and $95 resepectively.

        LGA775-compatible CPUs start at $45 (Celeron D 326). Dual core CPUs start at $90 (Pentium D 805). Core 2 Duo CPUs start at $180 (Core 2 Duo E6300).

        AMD AM2 compatible CPUs start at $41 (Semprom 64 2800+). Dual core CPUs start at $153.

        Summary -- Intel motherboards are usually within a few dollars of an AMD equivalent. Budget CPUs start within a few dollars of each other. Intel dual core is cheaper. Core 2 Duo is $27 more expensive than the cheapest AM2 Athlon 64 X2, but faster.

        Meaning that that Core 2 Duo E6600 still crushes that FX-62.
        • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
          Thanks for the info. By the way, I hope you weren't calling me an AMD fanboy...the reason I asked is that I didn't know, because I don't keep up to date with hardware prices.
        • For me (in Germany), the calculation looks a bit different:

          For reliability, I want my machines with ECC RAM. Looking (for example) at my preferred vendor Alternate.de, I end up with the following prices:

          On the Intel side, AFAIK you have to take the pricy 775X chipset for ECC (and some 775X boards are listed as NOT supporting ECC). Alternate prices for boards that actually support ECC RAM are around 200 euros.
          As processor, I might take the cheapest Core 2 Duo for 169 euros. No Pentium D please, I don't need
    • by Snover (469130)
      You're thinking of Socket A, not Socket 754. 754 was actually the shortest lived of the sockets.
  • Has it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:46AM (#16242433) Homepage Journal
    It would have been nice if they could have started by showing some hard sales numbers to back up their statement that it is "being dismissed by consumers". I don't have any special love for either company, next time I'm going to upgrade I'll just pick whatever gives me the biggest bang for the buck, but when you write a whole article about "where did they go wrong", it helps your credibility if you can just quickly show some evidence that they HAVE gone wrong.

    Especially since many online hardware sites tend to be pretty low journalistic standards, and pretty high on drooling fanboyism.
  • - no real need for update. S939 and S940 were quite adequate.

    - no real performance gain with DDR-2. A simple CPU socket change can't help here.

    - CPU core itself hasn't chhanged much. Latest dual core model, like 285 are not that differrent from plain old 240. It has two cores, but cores per se aren't much faster or lower power than old ones...

    - People have realised that all technological breakthroughs are aimed at AMD's gain, not customer's benefit. Take HT channels, for example. AMD has been showing them a
  • by pieterh (196118) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:49AM (#16242449) Homepage
    AMD has, pretty much, wrapped up the high-end market with its Opterons. All the noise about Itanium - it's turned into Opteron sales.

    So now Intel has made a strong come-back on the desktop... and AMD calculates, do we make slices of silicon that sell for $100, or that sell for $1,000 and the answer is pretty clear. AMD does not have the capacity that Intel has, so it's making the most out its fabs by aiming at the server market.

    • by sheldon (2322)
      AMD's play on the server line with the Opterons is at risk to the new Xeon 7100 line.

      I don't know if I've seen any benchmarks yet, however.
  • Easy, two things... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NerveGas (168686) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:07AM (#16242511)
    1) While virtualization is immensely useful to a small number of people, it is virtually useless to most end-users.
    2) While DDR2 offers greatly increased bandwidth, it does so at the expense of latency, and in many common applications, doesn't really perform much (if any) better than the 128-bit DDR memory of the socket 939 Opterons did.

    When you look at it that way, other than being more "future-compatible", there aren't really any benefits to *most* end users, and if there aren't any benefits, why would they upgrade?

    The Athlon64/Opteron chips were popular because they were innovative in useful ways, which gave the end user something more for his money. The AM2 hasn't kept with that tradition.

    steve
    • by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:15AM (#16242707) Homepage
      When you look at it that way, other than being more "future-compatible",

      Which is majorly overrated. What am I missing in my fairly current machine?

      1) No Dual-core. Motherboard just won't support it, no matter if you tweak the BIOS.
      2) No PCI Express. Last generation AGP port.
      3) No DDR2 support (not important unless I could upgrade my CPU to a memory hungrier CPU)
      4) Too few SATA ports
      5) Too few SATA power connectors
      6) No PCI Express slots for expansion cards
      7) No eSATA port
      8) No SATA II support
      9) No RAID5 support

      The best future-proofing you can get is the money to buy a machine in the future. Chances are that by the time you're ready to upgrade, all the standards have changed. Unless there's a *very* compelling game that requires a better GFX card than I got coming out in 2007, I expect I'll get a new one in 2008. By then I expect it will have already skipped one generation and go straight for DDR3, DirectX 10 card etc etc.
  • My company is based on using AMD Opteron servers. Our primary web hosting is done on a dual proc Opteron - and it's done very, very well. It, and the Linux (CentOS) OS has performed very, very nicely for us, while our company's growth has mushroomed - more than 2x growth annual. Combine Opterons and SCSI 10k drives, and the performance is nothing to sneeze at.

    However, we're about to begin clustering, since load average on the primary application server is approaching 35% (with our growth rate that gives us
    • by DikSeaCup (767041)
      So the question is: should we stick with Opterons because of binary compatibility (yes, Opterons and Core Duo are binary compatible - but there's less likely a problem between Opterons than between AMD/64 and IA/64)

      Okay. Either I'm totally confused or you're totally confused.

      Unless you're going to do something totally insane and buy an Itanium based system, why does IA/64 come into the equation?

      Unless I've totally missed the boat (it's been known to happen), Opteron and Core Duo (and, outside of Itan

    • by jarich (733129)
      You should upgrade your motherboards and replace your Opterons with dual core Opterons. :)
    • I take it you're talking about a significant number of machines? Enough that getting the choice right makes a difference in the four to five digit $ range?

      Then you might want to buy one or two Core 2 Duo machines now and use them for testing.
      If all your applications run fine, consider going Intel.
      If they don't, you have spent maybe (pulling numbers out of my ass) $2.000 on avoiding a $20.000 error. Sounds like a good tradeoff to me.

  • by pjr.cc (760528) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:15AM (#16242549)
    It wasn't AMD doing anything wrong, it was intel doing something right. AM2 was a natural progression from the 939. But intel came out with conroe, a low-power, low-heat-output and blisteringly fast that made AM2 look lacklaster and even worse comparing the bang per buch factor. 939 was so popular because of things like prescott (a cpu that had such a huge heat output a new case spec was required), add to that power consumption and lackluster performance (while trying to maintain the same price-point) and the 939 was hot (figuratively speaking). So where too from now? AMD have already hinted at multi-core cpu's that "look" like single core cpu's and i suspect that will be a killer feature that will rocket AMD back into the lead again, consider a cpu that has the power of 4 cpu's while allowing a single threaded application to take full advantage of it... that would be dam impressive. On a side note, anyone else find it very amusing the evolution of computing since the PC? We've swung from serial to parallel since the dawn and hopefully we will continue to.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      AMD have already hinted at multi-core cpu's that "look" like single core cpu's and i suspect that will be a killer feature that will rocket AMD back into the lead again, consider a cpu that has the power of 4 cpu's while allowing a single threaded application to take full advantage of it... that would be dam impressive

      This was just a rumor and has subsequently been said to be near impossible.
      http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060713-7263 .html [arstechnica.com]

  • by Conor Turton (639827) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:20AM (#16242561)
    People are becoming increasingly sick of having to upgrade a large proportion of their hardware for a minimal increase in performance.

    I have a AMD X2 4800 Socket 939 with 2GB of RAM. It does what I want. For me to upgrade to the next level, it's not only a new CPU but new motherboard and new RAM too and that DDR2 stuff ain't cheap if you go for the higher speed stuff to try and futureproof.

    Many, including myself, are starting to see the introduction of a new CPU socket type as nothing more than a vain attempt to try and keep revenue flowing by trying to persuade us of all the benefits that these new sockets can offer which apparently the old ones can't. Two downsides to this. The first is ASROCK who have proven that the chipsets are more than up to running new sockets with the help of a low cost adapter to allow you to use the different RAM and CPU. The second is Intel who have come along with the undeniably impressive Core 2 processors that not only run on the existing 775 socket but also the i965 chipset with many boards requiring nothing more than a BIOS update to recognise the new range of processors.

    So my message to you, AMD, is simple. We're sick of CPU sockets changing every 18 months. For christ sake, Socket 754 had about 6 months before it was superceeded. Slot A, Socket A, Socket 754, Socket 939, AM2 in less than 6 years with the last three having no real benefit over each other..WE'VE HAD ENOUGH.

    • by Sathias (884801)
      Bingo, you posted exactly the way I feel about AM2. I bought a 3200+ Athlon a year or so ago, with the intention that sometime after upgrading my Graphics card (which I have done) I would upgrade my CPU. Now that AM2 has been released, and moreso that the 939 chips have been ceremonially dumped, I do not feel as inclined to upgrade a machine which I now know is a dead-end architecture. I would prefer to save my money and upgrade to a Core 2 Duo system being that

      a) Either way I will have to buy DDR2 ram and
      • I bought a 3200+ Athlon a year or so ago, with the intention that sometime after upgrading my Graphics card (which I have done) I would upgrade my CPU. Now that AM2 has been released, and moreso that the 939 chips have been ceremonially dumped, I do not feel as inclined to upgrade a machine which I now know is a dead-end architecture.

        I'm in a similar situation, but I feel very differently. I'll still benefit from getting a dual core CPU and another 2 GB RAM, and adding that to my socket 939 motherboard i

    • by Fweeky (41046)
      Pfft, are AMD really peddling AM2 as an upgrade for you? It seems pretty clear to me that it's been presented as what it is; S939 with DDR2 and a few tweaks, not a must-have for every current S939 user. Using the same memory as Intel, and a memory type that has a decent future is nice, and something that's going to happen sooner or later.

      By the time there's a CPU that makes an upgrade for S939 users worthwhile, I dare say DDR2 (and AMD's use of it; I dare say Quad Core will like the extra bandwidth) will
  • AM2 vs 939 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Deanodriver (962608)
    I think there are two reasons why AM2 isn't enjoying the same popularity as 939 systems. 1) It doesn't offer a large performance increase over 939, so those with decent 939 setups aren't encouraged to upgrade (and those that are are prepared to spend the extra for C2D). However, I do believe that will be changed a little once AMD release their 65nm core (I think it's called Brisbane), and I do believe they'll tweak the memory controller for extra performance (advantage of having it on the die). 2) Conroe.
  • by mikaelhg (47691) on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:48AM (#16242625)
    I know that my reticience to invest in AM2 equipment has had nothing to do with the current market situation or AMD's competitors, I'm simply waiting for the upcoming quad-core processors before I'm investing anything at all into hardware.
  • by wysiwia (932559) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:28AM (#16242757) Homepage
    Customers and motherboard vendors alike are simply annoyed by the permanent socket changes. Sockets are hardware APIs which these days shouldn't change for a decade and not within a year or so. Besides the performance increase from 939 to AM2 is so insignificant there's no reason to switch.

    IMO the best what AMD could do is scrap AM2 and replace it with a socket which is able to plug in 939 (DDR) processors and possible DDR2/DDR4/DDRx processors. Since this will take some time AMD should release any AM2 processor parallel as 939 processors, else AMD will possibly loose some market share.

    O. Wyss
  • AM2 inside? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stooshie (993666)

    Intel had bit of an advertising coup in that any advert on TV for a company selling PCs (at least in the UK) seemed to have an "Intel inside" logo and jingle played during each ad.

    I never saw an "AM2 inside" equivalent.

  • Hand down, Intel beat AMD like AMD beat Intel back in late 1999. I really think AMD didn't push the envelope as much as they could and they put out a product that just doesn't impress when compared to the Core 2 or even the Core.
  • when Dell started shipping systems with AMD...
  • The AMD chips that went up against most recent Pentiums won their contests hands down. But now that Intel has finally got its act together with the Core 2 Duos, its obvious that AMD's market share will suffer, for simple reason that it has real competition for the first time in 3 years.....regardless of subtleties in the relative merits of the 2 platforms.
  • by MikShapi (681808) on Friday September 29, 2006 @06:27AM (#16243047) Journal
    Gone are the days when you can buy something (an Athlon XP) that delivers 95% of the intel equivalent for half the price (saving hundreds of dollars), or offering a value processor (The good'ol Duron) that kicked the living crap out of a faster Intel mainstream CPU for a tad more than nothing.

    It was the fact that they used to deliver the substance without the bull and charge accordingly that made AMD so dear to us back then. Not so now - they realized that if people are willing to pay Intel big bucks for fast CPUs, they'd be willing to pay them too. Unlike then - if you want High-end performance today, you gotta cough up some hard cash.

    Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't see Cure 2 Duo coming, or perhaps underestimated it, or perhaps yet again just couldn't do any better, as it seems to have caught them pants down.

    I just looked up some CPUs for my near upgrade.
    For the uber-value dual-core, Intel is practically giving away Pentium D 805's for free - as cheap as the good'ol Athlon XP's, only double the cores.
    For the value dual-core game box, The 6400 tears the X2's a new one no matter how you line them up. The price difference - 40$ more expensive than the lowest AMD (AM2 X2 3800). HUGE performance difference. And if it ain't worth the extra 40$, see the first clause above.
    For the performance and extreme markets, the 6600 and 6800 tear the X2 an even bigger new one.

    This isn't rocket science. It's second-grade math. This round, AMD lose, no matter which side you're looking at (Save maybe the server side, and I'm not sure there too).

    Unless AMD either bites the bullet and does some competitive (additional!) price slashing to bring their products in line with the corresponding Intel alternatives, or comes out with something just as kickass to counter the Core 2 Duo, you have to be a certified idiot to be buying their products for anything.

    My 2 cents.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla (258480)
      Gone are the days when you can buy something (an Athlon XP) that delivers 95% of the intel equivalent for half the price (saving hundreds of dollars), or offering a value processor (The good'ol Duron) that kicked the living crap out of a faster Intel mainstream CPU for a tad more than nothing.

      True - Instead, you can now get an AMD chip that delivers almost twice the performance on half the power for the same price as the "comparable" Intel offering.

      And I write that not as an AMD fanboy, but someone who
      • by mobby_6kl (668092)
        Poor [techreport.com] overall [techreport.com] performance [techreport.com] ... abysmal memory performance [techreport.com]*, ... okay peak power use (just okay [techreport.com]), it still comes in several times that of the X2s when idle [techreport.com]

        Ah, and best of all, "And I write that not as an AMD fanboy".

        You need to pull AMD's dick out of your mouth and try again. If this was a troll attempt, congratulations, you got me to reply.

        * - memory bandwidth and latency is still behind X2s, but I know you don't really care about those "facts"
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pla (258480)
          peak power use (just okay)

          The core 2 duo has a TDP of 65W (75 for the "Extreme"). The X2s had 85, then 65, and now a mere 35W, or basically half of the core 2 duo.


          memory bandwidth and latency is still behind X2s, but I know you don't really care about those "facts"

          Well, considering I mentioned them, you might not want to assume quite so much...

          And yes, I called them "abysmal", because they haven't even caught up to the X2, despite having a year and a half since the X2s came out to play catch-up.
  • by duguk (589689)
    I actually bought myself an AM2 4200, after deciding I needed a new system (I used to have a 2.4 XP) - and seeing it was going to be the new thing, and that it wasn't much price difference. Perhaps at least I can offer some thoughts on actually having used it everyday and built it myself. Its a wonderful system imho. So what if it's not 5% faster than the previous model? Its not any more expensive. At the very least the thought and design gone into the CPU Mounting is great, no more fiddling with stupid he
    • by jejones (115979)
      ...no more fiddling with stupid heat-sink clips...

      That cinches the deal for me right there, along with AM2 supporting AM3.

      Yeah, if you went with 939, there may not be much point in moving to AM2 now. I, OTOH, am sitting here with my Socket A systems, and AM2 and Athlon 64 X2 are sufficiently low in price to be very attractive to me. Is Core 2 Duo better? Yes, from what I've read. OTOH, whichever way I go will be a major improvement on the Sempron 2400+ box sitting before me, and it's not at all clear to me
  • ... but not anymore. That is what is wrong with AMD.

    The unanswered question remains, "Is AMD necessary in order to keep Intel honest?"
  • DDR memory has gone as far as it can go.
    DDR2 memory still has room for improvement.
    When faster DDR2 ram comes out, AM2 will look that much better.
  • If anything I'm more confused than ever. I've been shopping for a new system and was thinking AM2, but this article seems to say that one could upgrade an existing 939 system very cheaply and that consumers get more bang for the buck going with 939.. That seems to contradict other things it says. So if anyone really knows these devices, here is what I'm wondering:

    I have to go with AM2 to use a dual core processor from AMD, right? Or can I use an affordable dual core cpu in 939? And if I can, what do I need

    • by danpsmith (922127)

      I have to go with AM2 to use a dual core processor from AMD, right? Or can I use an affordable dual core cpu in 939? And if I can, what do I need to buy?

      Nope, the X2s are very affordable in the 939 socket. I'm running a X2 4200 on my main desktop right now, and it's very nice. Honestly, unless you have a specific price restriction, I cannot imagine why you'd buy an outdated socket when similar core duos are very close in price to the X2s. I bought my X2 when Intel's lines sucked. There's no point in br

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday September 29, 2006 @08:21AM (#16243871)
    It hasn't been for ages... Yup, decades I believe.

    The performance bottleneck is the disk and it has been forever. You want a really fast system today? This is what you need:

    http://www.m-systems.com/site/en-US/Products/IDESC SIFFD/IDESCSIFFD/Products_/SCSI_Products/FFD_Ultra 320_SCSI.htm [m-systems.com]

    320Mb/sec burst rate, 40Mb/sec sustained and key... 0.02ms access time. It's the biggest performance upgrade you can make to a computer.

     
  • by dlapine (131282) <dlapine.ncsa@uiuc@edu> on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:04AM (#16245237) Homepage
    How quickly we forget what terrible choices the Intel fanboys had before Core 2 Duo shipped. CPU's that ran too hot, consumed too much power and had worse, much worse in some cases, performance than its AMD counterparts. AMD clearly had the upper hand for performance for the first time, and took advantage of it to make some much needed cash.

    AMD put out 3 different socket sets to maximize their profits- socket 754 for low end, non-64 bit computing, and single channel memory, socket 939 for mainstream users, and socket 940 for server and extreme users. All marchitechture, but all forgiven because the AMD users could buy dual cores that weren't just space heaters. Yeah, the price for the good stuff wasn't any cheaper, but the benefits were so obvious that only the Intel/Dell fanboys "stayed the course" or at least, held off from buying.

    Then Intel releases a near perfect CPU, great performance, good heat, medium power, just no upgrade to memory acces. Intel fanboys rejoice and finally upgrade. Middle of the roaders feel like they have a choice. AMD is suddenly left in the position it had occupied for all those years, second place. Yeah, it has a lot of options, and is still competitive for server stuff, but it's no longer a lock for the desktop user.

    Amd reverts to what worked for them previously- move all desktops to the same socket and give that socket a lot of upgrade life. Since DDR2 is finally available in quanity, and at speeds that actually don't produce a slower OS than using DDR 400, AMD decides to make the change to DDR2. Save for the recent attempt to make money, AMD users have been able to buy one socket for the majority of AMD cpus available at that time, and that provides them some marginal sales, for those users who want a chance at a later CPU upgrade.

    SO, socket AM2 is released at a time where it doesn't make much sense to upgrade for AMD fanboys. Intel fanboys are buying all the core 2 duo's their pocketbooks can handle, and middle-of-the-roaders are picking and choosing, just like always, versus performnce and price. AM2 is not cheaper than Intel solutions; the real deals for AMD are the clearance of older socket 754/939 stuff. Any real wonder that AM2 sales, at the moment, have been lackluster? As I see it, AMD took the long view, and released AM2 for the upcoming K8L and newer stuff. They'll take whatever sales they can get, but they aren't overly worried about sales right now. I mean, Dell is finally selling AMD's and I'd bet that AMD is waiting on that cash cow to come in.

  • Simple answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goldcd (587052) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:08AM (#16245305) Homepage
    People don't buy sockets - they don't decide what upgrade to get based on the socket.
    They choose the best performing CPU for their budget, then maybe the same for a graphics card. Once these two are selected they just chose the memory and motherboard that allows it all to fit together in a stable fashion (or overclock if that's your thing).
    Currently if you're looking to upgrade you'll choose a Core based CPU. Once you've got that CPU, it's not really a huge leap of logic to conclude you won't buy an AM2 based board.
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintiumNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:31AM (#16245823)
    To begin with, I've been accused of being an AMD fanboy on this site. I thought I was partial to Alpha processors -because absolutely everything sucks in comparison :p cough sorry.

    IMHO:
    The reason AM2 "is not a big hit" is because Core 2 Duo is a better processor. It is faster, runs cooler, and priced right. The reason it is faster is because AMD made a couple mistakes.

    1) They bought ATI instead of re-tooling to .65nm. If the Turion X2 was built on .65nm us "AMD fanboys" would be saying things like "Core doo doo" and "Core 2 so over".

    2) AMD couldn't implement AM2 with DDR3 support so they shouldn't have introduced it at all. The switch to AM2 was needed to consolidated their platform but until DDR3 the move is pointless. The memory makers beleived strong DDR2 sales were still possible because AMD hadn't moved to it yet.

    AMD might have known they would loose the competitive edge with these descisions. They can't count on the nForce product; so, ATI was a good direction. Well, it is a direction anyway. For all I know the cost of re-tooling might have been much more expensive.

    I have to give Intel props for the new dual core processor. The Pentium Pro was the last good processor they made. Until now that is. Pentium Pro was a fantastic processor. The new one looks every bit as good.

    FanBoy Alert!!!

    Don't get me wrong. I think the single core version "Core homo" is shit. Fortunately, it isn't as bad as the "Celery"

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