Can we have a moment of silence (or several million dollars) . . . please?

Bob Drzyzgula bob at
Mon Jun 25 15:05:48 PDT 2001

On Mon, Jun 25, 2001 at 03:21:32PM -0400, Thomas Lovie wrote:
> it's unclear which definition of 'better' will be used...

I believe that 'more profitable' is the only definition
of 'better' with any relevance to the situation.

Clearly, without competition, Intel, HP and now Compaq
would be able to just about set whatever prices they happen
to like, while trickling improvements out at any rate that
happens to be convenient.

Luckily, competition exists, although it is not so
varied as what had existed previously. I just checked
with a recent copy of Microprocessor Report. In their
"Chart Watch" for "Workstation Processors", they list
nine currently-shipping CPUs: 833MHz Alpha, 1.33GHz
Athlon, 552MHz PA-8600, 450MHz Power3-II, 1GHz PIII,
1.7GHz P4, 400MHz R12000, 480MHz UltraSPARC-II and 900MHz
UltraSPARC-III.  From an SPECcpu2000 (both  performance
standpoint, only five were competitive: Alpha, Athlon,
PA-8600, P4 and UltraSPARC-III.

So now Alpha and the Precision Architecture chips will be
phased out in favor of the Itanium; MIPS is dead as far
as Compaq is concerned; other than Compaq and SGI does
anyone else still use them at the high end (i.e. not in
embedded designs)? AMD has the Hammer due late next year.
UltraSPARC-II and the PIII are dead ends.

At this point, it seems as if AMD remains the sole leading
competitor from a raw performance standpoint, with Sun,
IBM & Motorola giving a strong showing but with a slightly
different emphasis (i.e. no one but AMD seems interested
in slugging it out in the commodity CPU arena; Sun, IBM
and Mot all seem more interested in selling integrated
systems or partnering with major OEMs -- they are addicted
to fat margins and appear to have no ability to transition
to a volume-based strategy).

Is this this enough competition to give Intel the kind of
heartburn AMD's been giving them in the ia32 range? Is there
something else waiting in the wings? Or will real competition
come only out of left field?


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