Originally Published: Monday, 6 March 2000 Author: Heather Stanfield
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Geek-Flexing At Its Best: The Intel-AMD War

Geek-flexing has long been a mainstay of our society; we all have a need to stick our tongues out and proclaim "Unreal Tournament is much better on my machine than it is on yours" because of various hardware differences. What is interesting to note is that this inherently primitive human trait has made its way up the corporate geekdom ladder to the land of the processor giants - AMD and Intel.

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Being a full-fledged member of the geek community, I have witnessed (and participated in, I am willing to admit) an interesting cultural phenomenon often neatly termed as "geek-flexing." Geek-flexing has long been a mainstay of our society; we all have a need to stick our tongues out and proclaim "Unreal Tournament is much better on my machine than it is on yours" because of various hardware differences. What is interesting to note is that this inherently primitive human trait has made its way up the corporate geekdom ladder to the land of the processor giants - AMD and Intel.

Certainly this rivalry is nothing new. I remember way back in the days (3-4 years ago, an eternity in computer-time), I bought an AMD K6 200 MHz processor. Two weeks later, AMD cut prices by 54% shortly after Intel released a faster Pentium II. This has continued to today; AMD has announced its shipment of 1 GHz processors, to be quickly followed by Intel. What is interesting to note is how this rivalry has made its way down the ranks to Your Generic Geek proclaiming loyalty to either AMD or Intel (I'm an AMD girl, just for the record). This seems to be the ultimate in marketing for the processor giants; each has a fan base that will proclaim until they're blue in the face that their Athlon will outrun a PIII or vice versa. It seems to me that AMD and Intel almost rely on their respective fan bases to "convert" newbies, or at least get them reading about the processors. Now, this isn't the only way that AMD or Intel gets users; I switched from Intel to AMD because I had problems with several Pentiums and Pentium IIs. I was happy with the K6 processors, and I have stuck with them (I now have an Athlon 600 MHz, which is quite nice). It's just interesting to see how our local geek-flexing is actually the geek-flexing of two corporations.

Now, I have an interesting question. Where is Cyrix? I know, I know, they haven't always been the greatest, but you'd think that they would have jumped into the fray, at least a bit more vocally than the recent Joshua announcement. With the Joshua release (officially known as the VIA Cyrix III), we at least know their target - the Celeron market, because of its PGA 370 compatibility. I have to admit, that is a pretty smart move on their part. They know that the key selling point for Cyrix processors is cheap, and by inching into the Celeron market, they are dropping prices on an already low-end market. For us super-duper "I want my Unreal Tournament and I want it screaming fast" geeks, we don't really care, because we know Cyrix's past performance in the floating point and MMX areas - Bad(tm). But Cyrix is not targeting the uber-geek - they are targeting the first-time user with 750 bucks in the checking account. Honestly, I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one just to see what it can do.

The other interesting twist is Transmeta's forceful insertion into the mobile market. AMD really hasn't made its way into this market yet, but Intel is happily chugging along, providing superfast mobile processors. I'm betting, though, that Intel and AMD are keeping a very close eye on Transmeta; they both know that the Crusoe processor is going to put a huge dent in their mobile processor sales. Transmeta is making promises that I hope they keep - low temperature, fast speeds, and low prices - because I see Crusoe reinventing the mobile market in such a way that I don't think Intel nor AMD can do. Smaller, faster, and cheaper is the wave of the future, and I think Transmeta will be leading the way, not Intel or AMD.

I am beginning to wonder if this is the Cold War of the 21st century - it is no longer small countries bickering, but a room full of geeks proclaiming their loyalty to a small bit of silicon. But I am not complaining; just as World War II got the United States out of the Great Depression, the Intel-AMD War has provided a quick succession of fast processors at decreasing prices. Who can complain about that?





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