The Battle Royale of Computer Chips
In 1968, Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore, former employees of Fairchild Semiconductors, buy the Intel name from a company named Intelco and shortly thereafter they are joined by Arthur Rock, a venture capitalist who contributes ten thousand dollars, helps procure two and a half million dollars in startup funds through stock debentures, and later becomes chairman of the infant Intel company. Ironically, by May 1, 1969 of the following year, with one hundred thousand dollars, Jerry Saunders, an engineer and former worldwide marketing director at Fairchild Semiconductors, along with seven friends, create Advance Micro Data (AMD). The creation of AMD was followed by an initial stock offering in 1972. The stage was set for a dozen years of prosperity for both companies and for the personal computer explosion that would unofficially start in 1984.
For many of the intervening years, Intel remained the annointed leader and proverbial giant of this intellectual pairing, but time, effort, and ingenuity have allowed both to survive and prosper in the turbulent and highly competitive computer market.
In the winter of 2005 the labs at www.cnet.com tested the five new Athlon 64 X2 chips from AMD in a head-to-head match-up with Intel’s four Pentium Duo Core CPU’s. The test results can be viewed at http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10442_7-6389077-1.html. If you are like me, struggling to navigate this chip maze, you’ll want to see those results. CNET labs put the nine chips through tests that included day-to-day computing, gaming, multi-tasking, photo editing, MP3 encoding, video encoding and price vs. performance. It was a clear win for AMD. Since that December 2005 test, Intel has introduced their new Pentium Duo Core 2 processor and AMD has introduced their Turion 64 X2. The field may be equalized again.
From the archives at AMD it was noted that by their 25th anniversary, AMD was ranked #1 or #2 worldwide in every market served, including the Microsoft® Windows®-compatible PC business. AMD customers had come to rely on them as a pre-eminent supplier of Flash memory, EPROM, networking, telecommunications, and programmable logic chips, and they enjoyed record sales and income. According to AMD history sources, “2001 was the year that the PC industry became aware that application performance and the overall user experience was a far more reliable processor performance metric than megahertz ever could be. With the release of our AMD Athlon XP processor, AMD also announced the formation of their True Performance Initiative (TPI). TPI was created to help consumers more clearly understand the benefits of PC performance, with a measurement they could believe in. The initiative would become a hallmark of AMD’s customer-centric philosophy over the coming years.”
Several months ago Andrew Gruen made the following observations on www.cnet.com: “Dell notebooks would soon add AMD chips to their notebook lineup by the beginning of 2007. Though Dell already broke up with Intel in the server market in May 2006, Digitimes reports that the company may do the same for its notebooks. According to anonymous ‘sources at Taiwan-based notebook makers,’ Dell is set to launch a full range of AMD-based laptops based on the Sempron, Athlon 64, and Turion 64 X2 processors in the forth quarter of 2006. AMD-powered Dell notebooks should mean less expensive computers and more consumer choices--and of course, inexpensive, low-end notebooks hitting the streets during the 2006 holiday buying season and thereafter. Adding AMD Turion 64 X2 processors would also shake up Dell’s high end. Using both the Intel Core 2 Duo with EMT-64 and the Turion 64 X2 in, say, the XPS lineup, would give power users a choice of dual-core, 64-bit processors, which will be particularly useful when the 64-bit capable Windows Vista goes mainstream early in 2007. Digitimes thinks lower prices would also seriously heat up competition between Dell and HP--one of AMD’s biggest customers. So what would you call cheaper notebooks, more choice for high-performance machines, and more competition in the industry? A triple treat for consumers!”
Whether you’re an Intel of AMD aficionado, desktop or a notebook user, there are many different computers and computer configurations that you should consider beside the manufacturer of the processing chip. The new Microsoft Vista operating system and Office 2007 suite is now generally available and it will potentially affect everyone from the student, business traveler, power user, or gamer. Your three year old or older machine will be hard pressed to keep up with this technology leap.
After the processor selection is made, here are a few other critical decisions you’ll have to make before you have your machine built. Random Access Memory (RAM) should be at least one gigabyte or more. Choose a hard drive as large and as fast as you can get, opt for the DVD burner over the CD burner for speed and storage capacity, consider a media card reader for the new digital camera users, get wireless and blue tooth options for connectivity to the internet or other users on your wireless network, and lastly, for the notebook users, get at least the new 15.4 inch display. Ditto for the desktop group and for MAC users other than the display. Many desktop units are going with a 19 inch flat panel display.
It’s a new year. There’s a new Microsoft VISTA operating system, a new 2007 Microsoft office suite and many new and reasonably priced computers. With a little advanced planning, you can make this your best computing year ever.