Tuesday, April 10, 2007

AMD Pays The Price In Awakening Intel Goliath -- Chip Sales -- InformationWeek

The good news in all of this is consumers should expect the price of chips to continue to fall, which should lead to lower prices for servers and PCs. This trend is expected to be driven by the heated rivalry, as well as an expected oversupply of chips by the end of the year, when Intel is expected to have five manufacturing plants rolling out products, and AMD will have two. In addition, AMD has outsourced more manufacturing from Chartered Semiconductors.

With the economy expected to slow, it's unlikely there will be enough buyers for all those chips, McGregor said. Microsoft's new Windows operating system isn't expected to significantly boost PC sales, and emerging countries in Asia and other regions, which are expected to be prime growth areas for servers and PCs, are more likely to favor low-end chips, which could help lower the price of high-end products.
Well, I'm a fan of anything that isn't Intel. Not because I hate the company, or love AMD, but because I hate having only one vendor to chose from for anything. So there is never any bad news in struggles such as this as long as the smaller company doesn't get put out of business, or frozen out of access to markets by (what should be) illegal deals with Dell, etc.

My guess is that eventually US companies like Intel and AMD will play a smaller role, possibly to the vanishing point, in micro-architecture. Inertia has kept us (no you) thinking that the central processor matters all that much. In fact, by making only tiny incremental changes to the xxxxxx86 instruction set, register configuration, etc., Intel has rendered itself less important as an "innovator" (ooooh I hate that word for some reason). AMD couldn't even exist if the "Intel standard" wasn't so stagnant. But it is, and nobody, at least nobody here in the US, seems to mind all that much.

Microsoft props up Intel and Intel does its best to prop up Microsoft, though it would rather be free of this dependency I suspect. What we have here is not a healthy technical economy, but internationalization will eventually fix that. The details of this would be another page, so I'll leave it as an exercise. Suffice it to say there will be a variety of processor to chose from with names that we might not recognize, and in some cases, there will be dramatic differences in architecture covered over by reference-design version of Open Source Software. For applications written in some high level language like C (Java, etc) and using standard OS calls (for a standard Open OS that is), a recompile will make any such app run on any such device. Now that will be a healthy tech economy. Does Microsoft want to come out and play? Does Intel? They'd be foolish not to be thinking about it. Our country will be foolish to not be prepared for it.

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