Thursday, July 05, 2007

On The Quality Of Things I've Said

Another blogger has started making a list of incorrect, unclear or just plain goofy things I've said. The only problem I can see is that I doubt he has allowed enough space.

I suppose it is a compliment to think that anyone would care enough about things I've said to bother compiling a list of mistakes. I recall when Dr. Asimov said that he had made so many logical errors in his Foundation series that he had to stop adding to it. These were more than just spelling or grammatical errors but errors in timeline, characters, plot, and events. Apparently, he hadn't been able to keep track of everything and these errors accumulated as he added each book. He was informed of the errors by his readers who apparently came up with several hundred.

I started posting online about computers in 2002 and I'm sure there were times that I posted when I was falling asleep at 3am, busy, distracted, or just in a bad mood. However, one particular distraction that I had came in September 2001 when my wife was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. I can't really forget that date because she was in the hospital when the attack came on the World Trade Center. They gave her two years to live so I have no doubt that this had some effect on the quality of my posts over the next few years. There were also times when I was on vacation trying to get in some good times with her or when I was busy working on my house. In hindsight I'd say the house was perhaps overcompensation because I more than doubled the floor area. I watched her get noticeably worse toward the end of Summer in 2004 so I'm sure I was distracted then. Finally, in the middle of that Winter she was hospitalized. When she did come home after a few weeks I had to have hospice care set up for her with a hospital bed and oxygen generator. I took care of her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next eight months. I can remember sitting next to her bed with my laptop while she slept. She often slept 16-22 hours a day. So, when I wasn't checking her blood pressure, counting out medication, changing the bedding, bathing her, getting her something to eat or drink, or just holding her hand, I did make posts. However, because of the stress I would imagine my error rate went up a bit. She died in October 2005 and I'm sure my error rate remained high for quite awhile afterwards.

I don't know exactly how many posts I've made on AMDZone since I began because the count has been reset twice. Let's say it is at least 10,000 posts. I figure if I'm lucky then maybe 5% of my posts contained mistakes. That would be about 500. Hopefully, my error rate wasn't any higher than 20% which would be a whopping 2,000 posts with errors. I'm sure that there have also been things that have changed over that time or I got more information about later. I'm sure there were a number of things I said years ago that will seem goofy now and I'll wonder what I was thinking. But getting back to my industrious mistake counters. If the real number is somewhere in the middle or about 1,000 then I doubt a single link will do. They may end up having to create a larger list of links to my mistakes. Maybe they can divide them up by topic or 6 month interval to keep each list to a more reasonable size. I think they currently have fewer than 50 in their list so I'm certain they have a lot more work to do. I wish them luck in their endeavour.

This month was interesting in that visits from topped all others. More visits originated from Intel Corporation than originated from from any of the major internet ports such as Verizon, Bellsouth, Road Runner, or Comcast. To give an idea of how many this is, I got more than twice as many visits from Intel as from Sony, Microsoft, Boeing, Cisco, IBM, Sun, Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Pratt & Whitney, AMD, Lockheed, and Texaco combined. These are actually in reverse order so the fewest visits were from Sony while Texaco had the most. Also, we can see that AMD's interest was in between Pratt & Whitney's and Lockheed's so not at all unusual. I have no idea where the interest at Intel comes from. I don't know if anyone there actually finds it interesting or whether it is simply an amusing distraction. The last time I looked at the site distribution the visits seemed to come from a lot of different places in the far flung Intel corporation so I doubt they are able to chuckle over my articles at the water cooler. Perhaps they send emails.

Of course, I imagine that Intel is probably a more pleasant place to work these days. It is possible that AMD's recent performance has reduced the pressure considerably. AMD is currently down in almost every measurement we can make. They've had two half Billion dollar losing quarters in a row with a probable third coming up Q2 07. AMD is down in volume share. Intel is way ahead in quad core and with initial Barcelona clocks at 2.0Ghz it looks like Intel will maintain the clock lead into 2008. They are only matched in dual core clock speed but with C2D's higher IPC and much greater FP performance it isn't that much of a contest. True, dual core K10 should have a higher clock than K10 quad core but by the time they are out in any number Intel can surely bump the clock with 45nm. In fact, if they keep pulling the TDP down they may be able to bump the clock to 3.2Ghz on 65nm by Q1 08 which may be the earliest AMD gets a K10 near 3.0Ghz. Intel still has the bulk of mobile and has no real competition from AMD until 2008 (assuming the new mobile cpu and chipsets stay on schedule).

There is also no doubt that Intel has gained tremendously in servers. In fact, in HPC, while AMD had modest gains, Intel's gains could only be described as ballistic. This is the sharpest gain by Intel in HPC on the Top 500 list since November 2003 when a flood of 32 bit Xeon systems began replacing the RISC systems like Alpha, Pa-RISC, MIPS, and Sparc. In just one year, Xeon HPC system power had doubled and became the dominant source of computing power in June 2004. Today, Intel has duplicated that feat by surpassing IBM's Power with 64 bit Xeon. As we speak, there is more HPC computing power coming from 64 bit Xeon (primarily Woodcrest) systems than any other. Of all the Top 500 HPC systems, 64 bit Xeon systems provide about 20% more computing power than IBM's Power and about double that of Opteron. AMD does have some large HPC systems lined up for later this year but even 30,000 processors for these systems won't put much of a dent in Intel's lead. AMD would need about 70,000 Barcelona's in HPC today to catch Intel.

There is no doubt that AMD is digging in on the low end with DTX and the BE chips. It appears that K10 will inherit this legacy next year with the GE series. Although Intel currently has nothing really competitive in this region I'm not sure that it needs to be. Trying to compete with mini-DTX for example would require not only new motherboards in mini-ITX size but large cuts in dual core processor prices. The current Celerons won't quite compete because they are single core. Intel could compete with DTX with its pico-BTX motherboard in terms of size but maybe not in cost. It is doubtful that there will be any wholesale shift to smaller form factors in 2007 but perhaps enough to give AMD some much needed breathing room. And, Intel can probably just wait until earlier in 2008 to respond. This is very much reminiscent of 2002 when AMD moved its K7 line down to compete against Celeron. It worked then (although AMD took quite a beating) so perhaps it will work in 2007.


core2dude said...

Dr. Asimov said that he had made so many logical errors in his Foundation series that he had to stop adding to it.

So following in the great man's footsteps, do you plan on stopping posting?

13ringinheat said...

Sorry about ur wife that was pretty heart breaking to read.

AMD is in a tough spot but there is hope that they will fix their issues and get a more competitive product out.

I think AMD gets more flamed because they have the "i am holier than thou" attitude when they are constantly caught doing deceptive things....

Scientia from AMDZone said...

scotland bob

That is definitely something to consider.

Scientia from AMDZone said...


Perhaps not but I guess you can always hope.

Scientia from AMDZone said...


Better products would certainly do AMD some good. Sooner rather than later.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

pop catalin

You're welcome. It is interesting that your point of view is nearly the opposite of scotland bob's. More to consider.

gdp77 said...

I am really sorry to hear about your wife. Keep always in mind that life goes on.

Now, considering the "quality of things I've said" I got some comments to make. There is a difference between making mistakes because of bad info and making mistakes because you are AMD pro. Try to follow my thinking please:

You are trying to make predictions about the future based on analysis on current info. Not many people do that and that's why u get so many readers. So I must admit that u are admirable for what u are doing.

When AMD says "we gonna have 2.6GHz barcelonas at release" and they "show" benchmarks, u believe them and u try to make predictions based on that info. If AMD lies then u make wrong predictions. But probably there is no way to know whether AMD (or Intel) lies or not. So u are justified in that situation.

Though, you are not justified when someone tells you that "AMD X2 pricing must change because X2 chips are under performing in comparison to C2D". All the benchmarks show that. All users that bought C2D see that. And you don't accept it and keep saying that i.e. AMD's chips perform similar to C2D and there is no reason for price drops. In that case your predictions are not based on facts (because u can see the benchmarks, or buy a C2D and test it yourself). Then everyone will blame you that u are biased.

In another example, u accused George Ou for whatever u accused him (i don't care, I don't know the guy). But u say nothing about AMD's simulated benchmarks. Simulated benchmarks? I mean what the guys in AMD are thinking? Seriously is that the way they hope to improve their situation? With simulated benchmarks?

So scientia, I hope u keep posting and keep making predictions about the future. I just hope u will do it, while being "less AMD pro".


Christian M. Howell said...

I guess this is one your posts with an error. I'm not sure how you're counting the HPC numbers, but the latest Supercomputer list has Cray and Sun at number 2 and number 3 right behind IBM.

And that's without Barcelona. If the latest numbers are to be believed, then a 4P 2GHz Barcelona will still be competitive with Xeon 5355 and should really out-distance the lower-clocked quads.

Scientia from AMDZone said...


As far as the simulated benchmarks go I wrote an article about them back in May. Frankly I didn't see the point since one would logically assume that K10 would be at least as good as K8.

I don't think prices are really related to performance but more to market demand. If OEM's don't want to buy AMD chips then it doesn't really matter what the performance is compared to Intel's. I would say prices are more of a supply and demand comparison.

X2 prices. CRN says:

prices for the top-of-the-line Athlon 64 X2 6000+ would drop from $241-per-unit to about $170.

The price of an Athlon 64 X2 4000+ would be cut from about $90 to $69, he said.

I don't know if those were supposed to be boxed retail prices or bulk tray prices. NewEgg has:

X2 6000+ $216
X2 4000+ $79

X2 3600+ $62

Conroe E4300 $117

Single core:
Conroe-L 440 $70
Conroe-L 430 $59
Conroe-L 420 $50

Sempron 3000+ $30

This looks to me like a low strategy for AMD. You can get a 2.0Ghz dual core 3600+ for about the cost of a 1.8Ghz single core Conroe.

Scientia from AMDZone said...


I guess that was a compliment. You're welcome?

Scientia from AMDZone said...


I would be happy to show you the numbers. The totals are for all systems in the Top 500 with that processor. There are 85 Power, 231 EM64T, and 107 AMD64 systems.

Intel EM64T - 275,450 processors
AMD64 - 269,850 processors

Intel has 2% more processors.

Intel EM64T - FP Sum 1,792,543
AMD64 - FP Sum 940,740

Intel has 91% more FP power.

IBM Power - 504,416 processors
IBM Power - FP Sum 1,456,046

Intel has 23% more FP power than IBM with 45% fewer processors.

90% of AMD's total comes from X2's.

80% of Intel's total comes from Woodcrest and 15% from Clovertown.

Oddly, neither AMD nor Intel shows very much increase with increasing cores in these numbers.

Ho Ho said...

"I don't know if those were supposed to be boxed retail prices or bulk tray prices. NewEgg has:"

Why did you leave out the Pentium E series?

$87 for 1.6GHz dualcore and $96 for 1.8GHz dualcore with cooling isn't too bad.

Also for the record, I think it wasn't really a wise idea to turn on comment moderation.

Pop Catalin Sever said...

I have a question for you Scientia, a question for which I try to find and complete answer but it seems to be very complex one, and is related to AMD's image in the consumer market :

Why does a CPU company's success or failure seems to be related to it's top performing CPUs by the majority of people and lot's of times by annalists. When Intel is ahead in performance there is mostly doom predictions for AMD. When AMD is ahead regarding top CPU's performance, then they seem to simply catch wings.

Seems to me that in general the consumer's view of things is more limited, more atomic. Hardly any people seem to be willing to have and layered view of things, except when they are trying support the company which is behind on the the big picture. Example:

AMD had the performance leadership. The whole picture was: 'AMD is better'. It didn't matter much for most people what better was referring to, or what products (it was a general halo effect around AMD that affected not informed buyers and informed buyers alike). On the other hand Intelers were slicing and dicing the picture all the time pulling out the best parts like video encoding and alike.

Now the reverse is true, the general accepted truth is 'Intel (as in Core 2) is better'. And the vast majority of people (consumers) seem to take that as an atomic truth, they don't care about details. But now the AMD fans are slicing and dicing everything to surface things like performance/price ratios and alike.

The most general consumers seem to reject the most complicated analysis and only take the simple ones like X is better, and not the ones like 'X 200 is not better a at Y and Z but has a slightly better Price/performance at U and W and consumes 8% less on Idle load'.

Considering this, can we assume that AMD can be called industry leader once again (in the most general way, and not specific ways like perf/watt, perf/dollar) when it regains top tier performance leadership ? If so then AMD has long road to go, and must really give up the industry leader title it has given itself. The are more tiles to take, like 'industry performance/dolar leadership' 'scalabilit leadership', etc, from which I guess AMD can benefit.

I don't know how much sense I made with my rant, but I strongly feel AMD needs radical a image change this time around.

InTheKnow said...

Scientia said...
There are only two form factors that allow six boards from one blank: mini-DTX and mini-ITX.

Disclaimer: The above was from the previous article, but I find logging in such a pain (I have to log into google and reset my password every time just to log in) that I often don't even get around to posting while the comments are relevant. However, since you brought up DTX in the current article....

You are making way too much of the panelization of the board. Many shops run variable panel sizes in order to minimize waste due to a difference in board size. The main cost drivers on PCBs (printed circuit boards) are board size, number of holes and number of layers. So you have to look at all those things to figure out what a board should cost.

But the board is the cheap part of the system. The cost of stuffing a board (mounting the components for those who want to avoid the jargon) is typically 2-3x the cost of building the board and can be a lot more. I've seen $500 boards with >$5000 of components mounted on them.

I think the real question around DTX is whether or not this form factor will give AMD early entry into a significant growth space that Intel isn't in. And as you've implied in your article, the small form factor desktop might not be significant enough.

Scientia from AMDZone said...


"The cost of stuffing a board (mounting the components for those who want to avoid the jargon) is typically 2-3x the cost of building the board and can be a lot more."

I'm not an expert on manufacturing but I can't see how you would arrive at that figure. If it takes, say, 1 man hour to install the power supply, board, and processor that would probably cost $10. I don't know of a motherboard that only costs $5.

That makes sense that some would use smaller panels to minimize waste. However, that doesn't change the fact that getting 6 from the largest panels would still be the cheapest. I think the cost is also lower because it is four layer.

The low cost machines have slim margins so any reduction in cost (even 10$) is a big help.

I think they are on the right track. I think that the change from heavy, large CRT monitors to lighter monitors has allowed a big shift along with USB. Smaller cases with fewer ports and quieter fans does seem to be where the market is heading.

It's one step. AMD won't be truly competitive with mobile until 2008. We'll have to see if the early low clock server chips help.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

ho ho

"Why did you leave out the Pentium E series? "

Because they are much, much slower than K8 at the same clock.

"$87 for 1.6GHz dualcore and $96 for 1.8GHz dualcore with cooling isn't too bad."

This is very poor value compared to X2 3600. You would need an X2 of about 1.3Ghz to match P4 but AMD doesn't make a dual core that slow.

"Also for the record, I think it wasn't really a wise idea to turn on comment moderation."

It's temporary.

enumae said...

Because they are much, much slower than K8 at the same clock.

I have put together a table here, it is based on an X-bit review of the Pentium E series processor's.

On average AMD is slower while having a clock speed advantage against the lower cached Pentium E series.

If you have seen a conflicting review please link to it.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

ho ho & enumae

My mistake; I was confusing Pentium E with Pentium D. I realize now that Penium E is actually a Core 2 Duo with 1/4 of the normal cache. This is good comparison.

The differences in your chart are tiny: 3.7% and 5.4%. However, even allowing for this we would get proper matches of:

E 2140 (1.6Ghz) - $89
X2 3800+ (2.0Ghz) - $66
AMD $23 less.

E 2160 (1.8Ghz) - $96
X2 4000+ (2.1Ghz) - $70
AMD $26 less.

Pop Catalin Sever said...

AMD has a bigger problem than the fact it sells CPU's 3$ cheaper or more expensive, and that is it's image. But that's something that enthusiasts simply ignore.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

pop catalin

I'm not sure what to say about image. Image probably plays a role with enthusiasts and perhaps top end buyers. It's pretty obvious that image plays a huge role with Apple customers, otherwise, why would someone pay an extra $1,000 to get nearly identical hardware?

I would imagine that the vast majority of buyers are unaware of image. They probably see Intel's tv commercials but I would imagine that purchases have more to do with price and availability (so image may matter more with companies like HP, Dell, and Gateway). The great majority of consumers have no idea what overclocking is and probably never upgrade the hardware unless something breaks.

enumae said...


Any opinion on how AMD or Intel will have done this quarter?

Scientia from AMDZone said...


No, I don't. Hopefully AMD will lose less this quarter.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

I assume we will find out July 16th. AMD is almost certain to be asked about the low initial clock speeds for K10. AMD will probably outline a plan to get back on its feet financially.

Then AMD has the Technology Day at the end of the month. I assume there must be some good news in there somewhere.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

pop catalin

For some support about what I was saying about consumer image for the great majority of customers you might look at this CNN Money article.

But a recent survey by research firm In-Stat found that branding in the chip industry isn't working well.

One finding: Consumers often know chip brand names such as Centrino and Opteron, but they don't know that Intel makes Centrino and Advanced Micro Devices makes Opteron.

Ho Ho said...

"Hopefully AMD will lose less this quarter."

Any ideas what could have made AMD loose less money this quarter? Certainly those price drops didn't help.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

AMD saves a small amount from lower acquisition costs but this is tiny compared to what they need. They could probably save a little more here and there. However, to really cut the losses significantly to, say, no more than $400 Million they would have to sell a lot more product. Can AMD actually sell more in the face of ramping production of C2D? Good question.

I would say AMD will lose somewhere between $400 and $700 Million. So, a median estimate of $550 Million. Q3 will probably be better but we won't get information on AMD's plans until later in the month.

Aguia said...

Any ideas what could have made AMD loose less money this quarter? Certainly those price drops didn't help.

HD 2900XT
HD 2600XT
HD 2600PRO
HD 2400XT
HD 2400PRO
690 Mobile and Desktop
And other chipsets

Ho Ho said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but besides the 2900 those video cards ewere on sale for less than a month in Q3. Also their availiability wasn't exactly too good at start. I somehow doubt they are a good profit generators

Aguia said...

Well I don’t know how business work, but I suppose:
- they first get the chips
- they pay the chips
- they manufacture the cards
- they pack the cards and send them to sale

The last two steps have to take some time I think.
And they cannot manufacture the cards without the chips.

I’m assuming one month or even two after they have received the chips.

Unless they receive the chips first and pay latter.