AMD's admission earlier this week that they would not
meet their production quota this quarter has prompted unwelcome interest
from Moody's and a class action lawsuit from investors.
Leave it to lawyers to construe optimism as grounds for
a lawsuit to recover investment losses. I say if you can't take the
hype, stay out of the stock market. Still, AMD needs to concentrate on
getting their K7 out on time and
providing more of all their CPU's. We need hardware, not promises.
...according to AMD, anyway. Their preliminary numbers
put the upcoming K7 ahead of both
Pentium III's andXeons. Based
on this information, we can guesstimate where
the K7 will score. But take these numbers with some sodium chloride
until the chip is actually released for independent testing.
K7 becomes Athlon, but still not
June 23, 1999
New name, new era for AMD. As they readily admit, the
company is still
losing money. But as the first numbers
indicate, AMD should do better as long as they can actually release
the chip for general distribution before Intel catches up.
on schedule, AMD retakes the CPU clock speed title with a 750MHz Athlon,
their first CPU built on an 0.18-micron die. In addition, a new 533MHz K6-2
pumps up their cost-conscious processor line. Check out their scores
Sad to see, but not much of a surprise. Cyrix
has been nearly invisible for the past year or so.
National Semi's dumping of Cyrix will be bad for
competition and therefore bad for consumers. Hopefully, someone like IBM
will see the CPU Lite and get back into the PC chip business with this
Cyrix still searching
June 4, 1999
IBM's not interested. Neither is Taiwan. Perhaps
National Semi's price is too high? Whether this is just negotiator
posturing or not, every day that Cyrix is homeless puts it at least a
month more behind AMD or Intel.
In an effort to raise the clockspeed and lower the heat
of its next PowerPC processors, IBM is pioneering Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI)
technology. Additional layers of silicon will be added as insulation
between the circuitry. Let's hope there's more burger than bun...
Looking for partners and re-thinking their whole WinChip
strategy, IDT may soon be history as a CPU supplier. With the recent
similar news about Cyrix as well, I might make a
comment about little furry animals leaving a sinking chip--but I won't.
IDT wants out, too
July 14, 1999
Jealous of National Semiconductor's recent success in
getting rid of money-losing Cyrix, IDT would like to sell off its
WinChip business, also. Not that anyone will notice...
Stealing thunder from AMD's recent K6-2
entry into the notebook market, Intel unveiled two Pentium
II (333 and a new 366MHz speed)
and two Celeron (266 & 300MHz) CPU's
packaged for laptops. The Pentium II's feature 256k of level 2 cache;
the Celerons, 128k. All use Intel's new BGA (Ball Grid Array) socket
Despite all the security vs. privacy controversy,
Intel's Katmai (Pentium III) is steaming
ahead for its official lift-off in February. Some Pentium III 500MHz
systems may already be available, even in Arizona.
Intel objects to FTC prosecutor,
February 9, 1999
In an effort to delay the upcoming antitrust trial
before the Federal Trade Commission, Intel wants to oust the
government's lead attorney Richard Parker, due to his former ties to
Now it's getting personal, though Intel may have a
point. Does Parker have an axe to grind? Maybe. Can he put the public
interest before private issues? Let us hope so. Perhaps Intel is simply
worried because Parker's former firm has won litigations against them in
the past, so they know what they're up against.
In a bid to avoid potentially months of costly
litigation, both Intel and the Federal Trade Commission have made a
tentative agreement to settle. Specific details are sketchy, but it
looks like Intel has assured the FTC that it will play nice with other
companies from now on, while maintaining its trade secrets when
Smart move for Intel. The sooner they can avoid a
trial, the sooner they can get back to building CPU's that actually
advance rather than just refine the technology.
Intel released a new weapon for combating Pentium-III
pirates--shifty computer builders who pass off low-speed (and cheaper)
Pentium's as higher-speed CPU's. The Processor Frequency ID Utility
will identify if your bargain chip has been over-clocked, but won't
prevent you from over-clocking on your own.
The utility will no doubt be hacked and faked by the
unscrupulous for in-store testing and display purposes. As always, it's
'buyer beware' when buying bargains. But testing with the utility direct
from Intel should help you ferret out the frauds.
Feeling nostalgic and basking in the (surprise?)
success of their socketted Celerons,
Intel is reportedly planning to go back to the motherboard with their
new Pentium III's, possibly by the fall.
They may even be pushing an iMac
clone by then.
If true, it would illustrate once again how Intel's
slot strategy was more of an anti-competitive decision than a
technological one. I wonder if AMD will now put their K7
back on the motherboard where a CPU belongs.
Intel's newest Celeron
will go the way of the MediaGX, albeit
at 466MHz and beyond. Integrating audio and 3D graphics into their new 810
chipset, Intel hopes to steal all thunder from AMD's K7,
coming in June. While the new Celeron was introduced today ahead of
schedule (go get its CPU Score here),
Intel adds that their new supporting chipset won't be available until "the
second quarter 1999".
I checked my calendar--is this new target date a code
phrase for K7-day?
Intel calls privacy flaw a virus
April 29, 1999
Canadian privacy hero Zero
Knowledge demonstrates once again the vulnerability of Intel's CPU
ID feature. Intel brands them as outlaws.
It's the old story of the emperor without his
clothes--he should have just banned eyesight.
Imagine that! A Pentium III in a socket. So 'new' thinner
PC's (read notebooks or even palmtops)
can be developed. Such inspiration. Yet another CPU marketing--I mean,
mounting--standard to frustrate computer upgraders. Not that we didn't see
it coming, of course.
Design issues delay Intel's newly-named SpeedStep (aka
Geyserville) power-saving technology for mobile Pentium-III's
until next year. The first mobile P-III's are still expected in October,
but will not yet incorporate this speed- and voltage-reduction
technique. The intention is to add a further power-conserving feature
directly to the CPU, slowing it down and dropping its voltage when
running on batteries.
Intel may be better advised to SpeedStep their Pentium-III's
up to match Athlon's plans...
On the eve of its official unveiling, Intel's
much-touted new i820 chipset is delayed (until October? next year?) and
motherboards already supporting it may have to be scrapped. The problem
is Rambus, a new type of memory architecture promising three times the
current (PC100) bandwidth, but proving out 25% slower. And signal timing
issues are currently limiting
maximum RAM options to two slots (512Mb), rather than the standard
As I recall, the car
was a bit of a lame duck, too.
To help calm the dissension and disquiet surrounding
their latest delay announcements, Intel introduces the 810E chipset
supporting both CeleronsandPentium-III's,
the latter now up to 133MHz on the bus.
Intel's Sabre motherboards running eight 550MHz Xeons
(512kB & 1MB L2 cache versions) are suffering on-board voltage
problems resulting in server crashes. The deluxe 2MB Xeons
in this configuration appear OK. Other motherboards seem OK, too. Intel
says it's a design issue with the older Xeon
Not wanting to be upstaged for too long, Intel
marketers unveil a cool new name for their 64-bit processor, formerly
known as Merced. Intended for servers & workstations,
expect Itanium sometime next year.
Intel goes Coppermining for speed
October 25, 1999
With 15 new Pentium-IIIs
for desktops, notebooks, and servers, Intel strikes back to become MHz
Mega-King once again.
Rather than speeding out their RAMBus-enabled i820
chipset, Intel goes after the smaller, foreign distributors of VIA's
PC133MHz chipsets. Not allowed to support Celerons
and Pentium-III's with chipsets faster
than Intel's, I guess. Curiously, VIA's large US-based customers (IBM,
HP, and Micron) have not yet incurred the same wrath from Intel, though
they are also using PC133's.
Trying to cut down on 'grey-market' suppliers who sell
cheaper but over-clocked Pentiums as though they were their speedier
cousins, Intel has updated their Frequency
ID Utility to spot these nefarious processor pushers.
If your computer won't boot, maybe it's your new Coppermine
at fault. According to Intel, an intermittent boot problem may affect up
to 2% of the processors already shipped, but so far has been found only
in laboratory tests of the desktop models. They have now implemented a
screening program to weed out new CPU's with this defect, which will be
fixed before the next shipments.
Although not officially scheduled for production until
this time next year, Intel has started unleashing prototype
systems based on its new Itanium
IA-64 (aka Merced) next-generation CPU, for software developers and
Rise Technology plans to put its next mP6 II into the
Socket370, hoping to displace more than its current share of Celerons.
Should be a good strategy, especially now that Cyrix's
market share may soon need filling.
Following the break-up of their seven-year partnership,
IBM & Motorola are taking PowerPC CPU development in different
directions: IBM, for its house-brand server line; Motorola, for the
Apple MacIntosh. It's certain to slow down Motorola's development of the
next-generation G4 CPU line. Especially now that Motorola claims Intel
is headhunting its key designers.
Might we one day see (gulp!) an x86 chip inside an iMac?
A recent firmware upgrade put out by Apple is
suspected of now preventing G3 PowerPC's from being able to be
upgraded to the new G4 CPU.
Sounds like AppleG3 firmware is taking
lessons from IntelSlot-1.
Mac users: Welcome to the world of PC's.
iMac DV unveiled
October 5, 1999
Movie creation comes to the consumer Mac in Steve Jobs'
newest, fastest, transparentest tech toy.
Slower system prices: now reduced.
October 14, 1999
Due to manufacturing shortages, Apple's fastest G4's
are not expected until early next year. Macs powered by 350/400/450MHz
versions are available now instead, directly substituting for
Originally, Apple stated that the slower systems would be sold at
the same price as the 50MHz faster versions. Due to public outcry--not
surprisingly--they are now discounting the slower models.
For all of you who have ever wanted to bounce your
computer, Bell Labs may make it so. They've developed a way to
rubber-stamp circuitry onto glass, plastic and other materials, opening
the way to flexible computer screens, better fibre optics, and more
Will we one day see prophylactic PC's? A new definition
of laptop computer?
Couldn't resist hopping onto the Star
Wars bandspeeder with everyone else, as Episode I opens today. Just
thought we'd bring you an update on the latest in CPU science fantasy,
direct from Russia: the Elbrus E2K
microprocessor. Supposed to outperform everything from Intel's upcoming
to a Cray.
And yet they are looking for a Western finance partner.
Yeah, right. Hmmm...Elbrus...Rubles...coincidence?
September 14, 1999
C.E.O. David Ditzel dances around questions about Transmeta's
patents (code morphing), products (Amiga?), and plans
for the future (more secrecy).
CNet & TechWeb
October 12, 1999
San Jose's annual
Microprocessor Forum this past week showed the majors diverging, the
minors digressing, and the midgets diversifying. Keep in mind that the
forum was mostly a showcase for forecasts, future paths, and
Here are some of the highlights:
& AMD to deploy 64-bit CPU's next year Current x86 software will need to be completely rewritten
to take advantage of Itanium's 64-bit instruction
set, though it will offer a 32-bit emulation mode.
AMD's 64-bit Sledgehammer, on the other hand,
will extend the x86 instruction set into 64-bits, for inherent
throws their Tiger into a tailspin Expecting to unveil their new Tiger chip, a
socket-compatible Celeron rival, Rise retreated to rethink their whole
future processor strategy. The reason? They've languished so long at
the low end, they are now left scrambling for pennies. Too bad.
Embedded processors break out of the box Hitachi, MIPS, National Semiconductor and others unveil the
latest generation of CPU's for consumer devices such as car audio
devices, communications, networking, and office automation gadgets.
Smart appliances are actually becoming smarter.