AMD - Loaded and Back in Action


Of Phenoms and the Triple-Core Proposition

Of Phenoms and the Triple-Core Proposition

When we queried of the state of the Phenom processors and its limited availability previously, AMD was quick to mention of sales allocation issues in various regions that attributed to this anomaly. While we think there are other reasons like limited yields, that's all behind us now and the situation is quite different with Phenom processors in good availability in most places.

While we've tested and reviews both the Phenom X4 and X3 processors in detail, we've not been impressed by its price-performance point, nor its power consumption figures. This is certainly true from our testing matrix when focusing solely on the processor's capabilities. However, AMD has another view of its processors - especially when taking the view of the entire platform proposition. To understand this angle better, you'll have to step out from your enthusiast shoes, and slip on some comfortable mainstream user's sandals. The point that AMD is driving is its balanced PC platform strategy that dictates the presence of an equally strong CPU, chipset and graphics subsystems at compelling price points and this perhaps is an important key to understanding where its current crop of offering shine best - commercial business systems and the mainstream retail business.

Face it folks, the chances of a retail desktop system based on an Intel processor with Intel's integrated graphics is far more likely than it being configured with a more expensive discrete graphics card option. We all know how miserable Intel's integrated graphics is and that alone is enough to drag the entire system's multimedia and gaming capabilities - it's an all too familiar scenario of the retail world where a fast processor is tagged to one of the slowest graphics engines out there. And there is a huge buyer base of such systems because they are affordable. According to stats shared by John, 97 out of every 100 computers sold in the US don't come with discrete graphics. General retail consumers don't deal with component price lists like enthusiasts; they just make-do with very light superficially research. The fact of the matter is that the retail PCs don't sell that many quad-core systems with discrete graphics, so most people don't spend that much money.

We've already seen what AMD's older 690G platform was capable of and it is very decent for multimedia. Now with the newer AMD 780G platform, it boasts of Blu-ray playback capabilities with all CODEC types (thanks to the IGP's integrated UVD stack) and much better 3D graphics horsepower. Pair that with AMD's processors and it will still perform much better than Intel's fast Core 2 Duo/Quad with Intel's IGP whose drivers are in desperate need of help since yesteryears. So when you re-look at the overall platform performance of an Intel and AMD system based on just integrated graphics, AMD has a much better performance and price standings.

Consumer's perception also adds to the equation here. A typical end-user's comparison and conversation with the store owner in retail store could be that one is looking for a system and finds an Intel quad-core system to be a little pricey (perhaps $1000 and upwards), but an Intel dual-core being more affordable at perhaps the $700 price point. Now at a similar price-point, an AMD machine perhaps offers a triple-core system (based on the AMD 780G) and additionally is able to provide better video processing and graphics performance - so that's a win-win scenario for the consumer. To the consumer, he/she seems to be getting a much better deal and they really are in this scenario.

Of course, if the customer is ignorant of other options besides Intel and doesn't test-ride the systems to find out firsthand or the shop assistants don't run any demos, this sort of sale would be hard to come by for AMD. However, as discussed here, from the technical standpoint, AMD now has a really compelling argument. Now it's up to their marketing to get into gear, else these salient points would just erode under Intel's branding/marketing. Nothing beats a good advertising campaign to set things in motion.