Monday, December 29, 2008

Still Waiting

I should have some spare money by the end of January and plan to buy a new computer. However, like most people I am still waiting on comparisons between AMD's 45nm Shanghai and Intel's new Nehalem. The silence is deafening.

Reports trickle in from places like XtremeSystems Forums and other scattered locations of people doing freelance testing on Shanghai. The suggestions are pretty good for AMD. It looks like Shanghai gets a fairly good boost at the same clock versus Barcelona while overclocking much better. It also appears that Nehalem is worse at overclocking than Penryn. That doesn't really surprise me since an IMC seems to be tougher to overclock than a FSB and putting the memory controller on the die increases the thermal load. Frankly I was impressed by how much smaller the HSF was for Penryn versus C2D and was equally surprised to see how much bigger the HSF was for Nehalem (larger than C2D). I don't think that Intel is in any danger of another Prescott but some of the blush is definitely off the Penryn rose. I'm also wondering if reports of Nehalem overheating with the stock HSF (even with the larger size) are true.

Still, this is going to be a problem for Anand Lal Shimpi and I'm not sure what he is going to do about it. See, back in late 2005 Intel was getting thumped hard by Athlon X2 and Anand decided to be value conscious and railed against X2's "insane price". Then as C2D was released in 2006 Anand conveniently dropped his previous objection to price. In fact these days you never even see him mentioning insane prices when talking about Intel's Skulltrail system. Nevertheless, he did try to excuse his change on prices by noting that even the low end Intel's chips were much better at overclocking than AMD's.

I still have reservations about judging the value of a chip by overclocking because so few people do it. The truth is that most systems run at stock speed with stock cooling and integrated graphics. So, it is somewhat odd that Anandtech bases its value on discrete graphics with overclocking and premium cooling. Perhaps the fact that Intel excelled at overclocking with premium cooling but needed a graphics card to make up for its poor integrated graphics is just a coincidence . . . maybe. I would be happier if Anandtech did this in two parts, one for common users and another for performance users. But at any rate, I will readily admit that AMD wasn't even in the running for OC'ing until they released the B3 stepping with the SB750 southbridge. So, one has to wonder if Anandtech will suddenly change its stance on value based on overclocking now that Intel's once proud OC banner is lying on the ground in tatters.

It could be the fact that Anandtech does about three Intel articles for every AMD article that makes it appear biased. Or perhaps it is when Johan De Gelas admitted that their server testing was 18 months out of date. And, that coincidentally the things that they were behind on were the things that Intel's chips did poorly. I know that Anandtech took a big hit in credibility when they first criticized AMD's 4000 series for requiring a dual GPU card and then turned around and chose a dual nVidia card as the best value. Maybe I'm biased and just not giving Anandtech a fair shake. Maybe, but then the numbers agree with me. AMD's graphics sales are today mostly the new 4000 series while nVidia's are still the older 9000 series. In fact, demand for nVidia GT200 series is about as dismal as it was for AMD's 2000 series.

I know what the rumors are. The rumors are saying that Anandtech has already benched Shanghai and it does pretty well with Intel only holding onto the really expensive (overpriced) top slot. If prices don't change then Intel's i7 920 at 2.66Ghz is going to be going head to head at $300 with AMD's Phenom II 940 at 3.0Ghz. So, with equal price that would put Intel at a 13% clock disadvantage right off the bat. And, without the fig leaf of better overclocking it has been suggested that Anand is having a hard time spinning the comparison in Intel's favor. Time will tell but I certainly hope we see some real numbers over the next month.

15 comments:

Pop Catalin Sever said...

Heeey, welcome back! I kind of missed your posts. Glad you're back.

Always good to read your stuff you have a refreshing "different" perspective on things and a sense of reality (factual reality) that always makes articles interesting.

Anyway, I disagree that performance of a CPU using integrated graphics is important for company as a big picture. It doesn't help the brand in the long run even if it shines. The big winning points are the mainstream price/performance, the high end performance and the enthusiast segment overcloackability and performance.

Christian M. Howell said...

Long time no post. Of course, Intel doesn't want their perceived advantage to go away.

Most of these sites are blatantly Intel-sponsored. I mean, how the hell can you only use a SkullTrail to test GPUs?

Who can determine what their lowly E7200 at stock or 8650 at stock will perform?

Theere used to be reviews that used multiple CPUs for the GPU, just to be responsible and actually help consumers know what to buy.

I mean there has been no coverage of AMD Game which should be used by Intel too. But then I guess it's a bad thing if you HAVE TO tell people your graphics really suck.

And the travesty that is PUMA? There is no way there shouldn't be ZM86s with XFire and SLI, Those would truly smoke in games, not to mention XGP which is a revolutionary product that would benefit Intel also, but they would NEVER back an AMD spec.

I do hope that the influx from AITC will push forward a 45nm Turion based on Stars.

Wise lnvestor said...

Nice to see you back Scientia. Happy New year!

Erlindo said...

Hi Scientia:

It has been a long time I haven't posted on your blog.

First of all, just to wish all of you a happy new year and that the Lord Jesus Christ may keep pouring his blessings on us.

I just have a single question to you:
Do you have a guesstimate on when AMD will/might regain the overall performance crown?
Since the introduction of the core uArch, AMD has been playing the ol' catch up game for two years straight, and it seems that they will be lacking for a third year more. All this came at the WORST time of the company's history (let's not even talk about financials here).

What I'm asking you could be off-topic, but we all know that Anandtech and Tomshardware are intel paid sites (no question there).

In conclusion, I'm kinda worried for this company. I don't know if they might file for bankruptcy (HOPE NOT), but I don't see the chip firm financials improving, and neither their upcoming chip offerings.

After all, it seems that stupid fanboys like roborat and Carniver might have the reason when they say that AMD is more closer than ever to file for chapter 11. (I'd never thought I would be saying something like that).

Thanks for any reply.

orly said...

So, how did your predictions about the changing of benchmarks used with nehalem turn out?

Johan said...

"I am still waiting on comparisons between AMD's 45nm Shanghai and Intel's new Nehalem. The silence is deafening."

And then you go a long way trying to prove that we at AT are biased. Could it be that you are overlooking the fact that we did two articles on Shanghai? The last one past posted a week before you wrote this blog.

http://it.anandtech.com/IT/showdoc.aspx?i=3484

http://it.anandtech.com/IT/showdoc.aspx?i=3456

What silence? I leave it up to the readers to decide whether or not we are biased.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

Erlindo

"Do you have a guesstimate on when AMD will/might regain the overall performance crown?"

I don't know that they will. Intel still has a faster clock. I'm more concerned about AMD's being able to cover most of the Intel lineup if not the top one or two bins. It wasn't that long ago that AMD's fastest quad was slower than Intel's slowest and AMD had nothing to compete in SSE with Intel's duals.

But, even Intel fans should admit that Intel lowers its prices only when they feel competition from AMD. The same is true for nVidia.

"Since the introduction of the core uArch, AMD has been playing the ol' catch up game for two years straight"

This is mostly true but two years is something of an exageration. C2D volume wasn't strong until very late 2006 and AMD did have quad offerings in early 2008. Intel also had overheating problems with the 3.0Ghz quads. But I agree that AMD has been seriously behind.

"and it seems that they will be lacking for a third year more."

Lacking in what way? AMD's lineup should be pretty strong in 2009 except for the highest bin or two. And, the fact is that very, very few people buy $1,400 chips.

"In conclusion, I'm kinda worried for this company. I don't know if they might file for bankruptcy (HOPE NOT), but I don't see the chip firm financials improving, and neither their upcoming chip offerings."

I'm certain the downturn in the economy will delay their breakeven point however I don't see them going bankrupt. I'm puzzled though why you are so negative about their upcoming chips.

"roborat and Carniver might have the reason when they say that AMD is more closer than ever to file for chapter 11."

Well, when Intel's lead is slipping what else can an Intel fan talk about? They certainly don't want to talk about overclocking.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

orly

"So, how did your predictions about the changing of benchmarks used with nehalem turn out?"

Well, first of all, I don't recall ever predicting that. As I recall it was stated as something that would be an indication of bias if it happened. Secondly, I haven't seen enough of a comparison of Nehalem and Shanghai to draw firm conclusions about testing.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

Johan

Thank you for posting here.

"And then you go a long way trying to prove that we at AT are biased."

No, I've talked about AT's bias in the past; this article was not really about bias. But I did give a lot of the reasons I feel AT has shown bias back in the thread on AMDZone. I hadn't responded to your post there yet when you posted here.

"Could it be that you are overlooking the fact that we did two articles on Shanghai? The last one past posted a week before you wrote this blog."

Well, first of all, the "silence" I was referring to was not directed at AT; it is everywhere: THG, Xbitlabs, AT, TechReport, etc. I was trying to say that Nehalem versus Shanghai is what everyone has been waiting for. Maybe the articles will all pop up with CES.

Secondly, your Linpack comparisons were another source of contraversy. But, you already know that. Unfortunately, I don't have any information at hand to either support or refute your results. For example if I looked over the Linpack code and found nothing fishy then I would agree with your results.

Perhaps in another month or so I will have hardware and software of my own and be able to generate some more data but I'm sure there will be many reviews out by then.

orly said...

'Well, first of all, I don't recall ever predicting that.'

Funny memory you have there scientia.

Lets go over what you said in your article 'Reviews And Fairness Or How To Make Intel Look Good'

'However, I have a counter prediction. I'm going to predict that we will see another round of benchmark shuffling when Nehalem is released. And, I believe we will see a concerted effort to not only make Nehalem look good versus AMD's Shanghai but also to make Nehalem look good compared to Intel's current Penryn processor.'

I love your predictions.

george said...

scientia, I have seen a couple of reviews (don't want to post them here because the guys are my friends and I don't want to cause them NDA problems).

PhenomII 940 manages to beat the q6600 (finally), but that's all about it).

Scientia from AMDZone said...

orly

"Lets go over what you said in your article 'Reviews And Fairness Or How To Make Intel Look Good'

'However, I have a counter prediction. I'm going to predict that we will see another round of benchmark shuffling when Nehalem is released. And, I believe we will see a concerted effort to not only make Nehalem look good versus AMD's Shanghai but also to make Nehalem look good compared to Intel's current Penryn processor.'"


Gee, you're right. I guess I did say that. I predicted that testing at Anandtech would change when Nehalem arrived. What was I thinking?

Server Comparison at Anandtech:

In a nutshell, we're moving towards a new way of comparing server CPUs. We combine the more reliable industry standard benchmarks (SAP, VMmark) with our own benchmarks and try to give you a benchmark mix that comes closer to what the servers are actually bought for.

So, with the arrival of Nehalem, testing has already changed at Anandtech.

"I love your predictions."

Really? Even when they turn out to be true?

orly said...

'Gee, you're right. I guess I did say that. I predicted that testing at Anandtech would change when Nehalem arrived.'

Can you go through their nehalem review and point out how they changed the benchmarks or whatever to make it look better then penryn? Can you do this for other review sites too?

'So, with the arrival of Nehalem, testing has already changed at Anandtech.'

On the desktop? Hmm, no. So they're including some industry stuff like SAP into the mix? This is now a bad thing?

'It would be a disaster for reviewers to compare Nehalem and conclude that no one should buy it because Penryn is still faster . . . so that isn't going to happen.'

So how did this one turn out?

'Really? Even when they turn out to be true?'

Maybe in your own little world, sure.

Oh when are you going to get around to showing the shift in benchmarks that make the Core2 look better then everything else?

Scientia from AMDZone said...

True, there haven't been big changes yet in desktop testing but then Nehalem hasn't been reviewed with Shanghai on the desktop.

And, we both know (although you may not admit it) that AMD frequently got shafted on 2-way systems with non-NUMA OS's. In fact the testing was so poor that often the reviewers didn't even know to use interleaving. Conveniently, now that Intel needs a NUMA OS for Nehalem I'm sure NUMA OS's will always be used.

Yes, there were changes in testing when C2D arrived. Anandtech stopped doing linux testing, stopped doing mixed testing, and dropped some benchmarks like encryption. Interestingly these were all areas where AMD was doing better. Anandtech still uses Cinnebench which is known to favor Intel.

In all fairness, Johan did link to a review in November 2006 that showed some mixed testing so saying that mixed testing ended after 2005 would not be strictly correct. As far as I know there has been none in the past 2 years and none between that article and the ones in 2005.

sharikouisallwaysright said...

I now own a Phenom II x4 940 and to my great pleasure it works in that old Asrock AliveSata2-GLan with VIA K8T890 very well.
Asrock provides a Beta-Bios for users:
http://www.pctreiber.net/filebase.php?fileid=2879