There's a lot we take for granted, especially when it comes to Intel. AMD has always enjoyed the benefit (of the only benefits) of being the underdog in that when it does something, we all cheer, whereas it takes a more revolutionary feat for us to really appreciate Intel.

Intel did pull some nice tricks out of its hat back in the Pentium 4 days, but the chip was just not very good and couldn't really compete with AMD. It wasn't until Core 2 that we, as a community, really started considering Intel once more. But since the Core 2 launch, we've treated most of Intel's advancements as meh-points.

I'm especially guilty of this; I remember finishing Penryn testing and thinking "that's it?". Here I am complaining about a 5 - 10% increase in performance that will most likely be given for free compared to today's prices, how spoiled I've become.

Then there's the bigger item of 45nm in general. I touched on this briefly in my Phenom Preview, but Intel has put itself in a pretty damn good position right now. The pressure is on AMD to continue this price war that no one can win (other than us), and Intel's cost structure simply gets better with the move to 45nm - which by the way is coming along quite nicely. For such a dramatic change to the transistor, Intel has executed very well on its 45nm roadmap; I've had Penryn for a while, as has Intel's partners, and honestly it's been performing just as good as final silicon this entire time.

I did a quick performance comparison between A0 and A1 Wolfdale (dual-core Penryn) and for the most part there was no performance difference, Oblivion and Half Life 2 showed a ~1 - 2% increase in performance but I don't consider that significant. The technology is mature, clock speeds are artificially limited, and as I mentioned in the Phenom preview: I believe we would've seen the entire Penryn lineup earlier if AMD launched Phenom this summer.

Intel is sitting pretty right now, honestly the only area where I don't see a clear strategy is in its foray into the CE market. We've heard the codenames (e.g. Silverthorne) but how Intel plans on getting these chips into DTVs, cell phones, etc... isn't as clear cut as AMD. AMD will simply offer two versions of its Xilleon processors that are already used in these devices, one with an integrated x86 core and one with a MIPS core - to the hardware designers it's a simple swap.

Intel doesn't have as big of a presence there as AMD simply because of the ATI acquisition, and it's not really a detriment today because the core that would go into those devices isn't ready yet. I'd say I'm more curious than anything because as I've mentioned before, I'm really interested in seeing higher performance, x86-cores, in these devices with hopes of the oft promised "digital home" finally coming to fruition.


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  • chumbawumba - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    Intel now have 2 major advantages:
    1) A better archtecture, finally... (& no I'm not a fanboy, he says typing on his Athlon 2400 XP).
    2) They have some great process engineers, which means they have 45nm on Bulk silicon while AMD are using SOI (silicon on insulator). Or in accountant terms a $200 wafer vs. a $1200 wafer.
    I do feel sorry for AMD as I feel the industry needs fair competition, though with SOI they may benefit from a smaller TDP??
    The real problem next comes with the CPU/GPU combos as Intel was hiring GPU designers over a year ago. I see Intel coming up with something good, as they can afford to do so...
  • MrJim - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Im here now, sitting with an OLD P4 1,9ghz, i like my processors to last long. But i love watching HD-movies, movie editing and instead of moving to Ubuntu (where there is no real video editing app)im in the tough position of to upgrade now or wait for Penryn/Wolfdale.

    The G6600/G0 looks so tempting for purchase right now, so my question is, with all your knowledge sir, is it at all possible that Intel will launch penryn in Q4 instead of Q1´2008? Its seems even more future proof with SSE4 especially for video editing tasks/encoding.
  • chumbawumba - Thursday, September 20, 2007 - link

    Penryn is coming Nov 12th, me thinks you mean Kentsfield et al. As a home video hobbist I'm waiting for Kentsfield in Q1' as I will at some point buy a HD camcorder but will aim the output (~720p) at Mpeg 4, while not the best quality it's good enough for home video. And I'm just not in the mood for HD optical formats just yet...
    Shuttle GP35P2 + Kentsfield 2.5Ghz + 2Gb Ram + 8800(640Mb) + 2x400Gb HDDs (Raid0)
    I want something that also games & the wife wants it to be smaller (I assumed she meant the PC ;-|).
    I can't see anyone not supporting non-SSE4 for a long long time so if you're on a budget maybe use Q1 to buy the 65nm stuff when the prices drop.
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