I haven’t written much on Intel’s new processors. Those who know me on the forums would point to my owning an AMD chip as evidence of my fanboyism (and I wouldn’t deny it, either), but honestly… the Intel camp carries on with business as usual.
It’s really a weird thought, isn’t it? “Business as usual.” It implies that things never change over on Intel’s side of the fence, and that’s what struck me today. Take a step back into the past and remember the early Pentium 4 days. Back then, AMD was kicking the Netburst architecture around with a superior, and far more sound design. Overclockers couldn’t be happier, gamers couldn’t be happier, and the general public was satisfied with AMD’s effort. Intel was caught by surprise, and took an entire generation of CPUs and a brand new socket to figure out how to get a solid reputation back. Since LGA775 was released, Intel has always been on its toes and continually innovating with new product lines, and generally covering the whole market.
Since then, we’ve come to expect nothing less from Intel. It’s a household name – even my grandfather knows about them, and sticks solidly to their chips. There’s nothing wrong with that: Intel won the marketing and public relations game fair and square. Their advertising has been top-notch, and attracting a large part of the gamers through their in-game advertising has been a huge help. Ever since 2004, Intel has been playing very hard to keep its position as the market leader in processors. The Pentium series has been a success, as have been the Pentium M series, Core 2 Duo, and Celeron families. Time after time they’ve delivered the goods, and we’ve come to the point where we take it for granted, almost. An Intel chip will always be as good buy, right? Well, right.
But Intel has been playing a very different game since late 2007. Instead of playing the market, they’ve gone one step further: now they’re controlling it. They have an army of supporters segmented perfectly into 3 markets: LGA775, LGA1156, and LGA1366 sockets. Supporters used to certain levels of performance from Intel have to move from LGA775 into the new segments, and based on their past experience with Intel processors, they’ll head to one of the new sockets for certain. After all, we want cutting edge technology and the same gains we had previously. There’s no in-betweens, no staying with your older board and RAM like AMD offers you, it’s a whole new rig you’ll be looking at – and its only good for the market as a whole.
Look, as much as I love AMD, they don’t seek to control their market share like they should. Intel is essentially guaranteeing motherboard and memory manufacturers business: AMD can only say that their chips will sell for certain, and customers may or may not buy new hardware along with it.
Earlier I said that I’d be tempted to take an NVIDIA card over ATI because of the sheer value they offer. Correspondingly, the hardware industry backs Intel’s horse because Intel has an offer they can’t refuse. The new Core series, and the new hexa-cores are Intel’s way of dealing out the cards. They’re saying; “Look what we have to offer, join the bandwagon and earn money!” I believe this is why NVIDIA is appealing to be pulled out of their chipset business, and why very few motherboard manufacturers are quick to roll out new stuff for AMD –there’s business in it, but not as much as the boys in blue.
By the way, Intel’s i7 980X is amazing. But wait, you already knew it would be, right?
It’s because that’s what you usually expect.