Both of these shifts in the industry happened before everyone wrote a blog or had a website, so maybe everyone has just forgotten the past or just wasn’t involved in the tech industry just a few years ago. It’s a shame really, as not only should the past must be remembered, it’s a critical part of journalism. So, forget thinking about AMD as a sinking ship and I’ll tell you the reasons why.
You forgot to mention that Intel is now more ambition then ever. Overclockers says it nicely. Intel is pretty much going to say to the DoJ that when they didn’t screw with AMD, they couldn’t compete properly either.
Well, Intel is also doing this by increasing their L2 cache. When the Intel core 2 microarchitecture was first released they had an L2 cache size of 2MB on Allendale to 4MB on Conroe. Just this week Intel introduced a quad-core part called Yorkfield that features a massive 12MB L2 cache.
It’s about yields. If you screw up part of an IMC, you’re pretty much screwed. If you make a dual channel DDR2 controller and only one of them works but all your cache works, you end up with a lot of random SKUs and it makes it harder for the consumer to choose. They could also have made redundant ones, but Intel said that they designed and killed more IMC designs than AMD has made.
AMD Phenom processors may not have the clock per clock muscle to beat out the Penryn and Yorkfield Intel processors, but it costs far less to make them partially thanks to the overall smaller cache sizes.
You are right that AMD doesn’t really need that cache as much thanks to the IMC, but Intel can keep up pretty well thanks to its efficient prefetching. Essentially, Intel is very good at hiding latencies and it should be interesting with Nehalem, but that’s a different story.
Let’s talk about die size:
AMD Barcelona: 283 mm2
Core 2 (Merom): 143 mm2
Kentsfield: 2x143 = 286
I’d say Intel is doing pretty well in that department. The total die size is a bit bigger, but they can have better yields and speed binning.
Lets talk about Penryn: 107mm2
Yorksfield: 2x107 = 217 mm2
Not bad. Cost wise, it should be cheaper.
Also, I’m pretty sure cache doesn’t use that much power.
And considering the previous cache size increases, Intel is getting less aggressive:
180nm 130 nm Pentium 3 – double the cache
180nm 130 nm Pentium 4- double the cache
130 nm 90 nm Pentium 4 – double the cache
90 nm 65nm Pentium 4 – double the cache
65nm 45nm Core 2 – 66% increase.
So about the whole packaging thing, Intel has been doing that for a very long time. And from the way that the market is showing, Intel is suffering from lower prices, but their suffering is maybe 800 million profit per quarter as opposed to 1.xx billion.
Lastly, there is always the chance that Intel slips up and if there was to be such a time it would be on their Nehalem based system architecture. After mainstream Penryn and the 45nm Hi-k silicon technology introductions in January 2008 comes Intel's next-generation microarchitecture (Nehalem) slated for initial production sometime in 2008 (five years after AMD went to an integrated memory controller). Nehalem will be Intel’s first processor with scalable and configurable system interconnects and integrated memory controllers. That will be a major change for Intel and history has shown if a stumble is to happen it is at one of these junctures.
True, they could screw up, but Nehalem was demoed running CPU intensive applications which is pretty impressive. Their 45nm process is at 90% yield which my teacher says is about as high as you can get. You keep talking about IMC and Intel had IMC a long time ago, they had to cancel it b/c of the rambus thing. They are usually pretty right about when the market needs things. 64 bit? Yeah, most people that I know are still running 32 bit operating systems. So they could screw up and if they do, they have the highly scalable 45nm process to fall back on. They say that the reason why Intel isn’t releasing faster Yorkfield based processors is because they have no reason to.
I'm not saying that AMD is going to tank, but i'm just saying that there is some pretty stiff competition.