Every year I make at least one trip to Taipei, Taiwan, usually for the annual Computex show. The flight itself is usually grueling, traveling from the East Coast you're generally in the air for around 20 hours. Then there's getting used to the time difference, which is a full 12 hours from EST. But it's all worth it, because a trip to Taipei is like a hardware-guy's dreamland. Tons of manufacturers spread out all over the northern tip of the island all working on bringing the latest technology and performance to your PCs. It's through these manufacturers that you can get a very interesting perspective on the industry as well as get a good idea for the truth behind a lot of the issues we see.

The Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers are the first hand recipients of roadmaps and future product information from companies like AMD, Intel, ATI and NVIDIA. The manufacturers are also privy to information that usually doesn't flow through a PR group before reaching them, so tapping our sources in Taiwan often gives us a much more honest (and bleak) view of the PC industry as a whole.

The other type of information we get from Taiwan is good updates on what types of products are actually selling. It's one thing to hear AMD and Intel talk about market share, but when the motherboard manufacturers tell us that a product isn't shipping, we usually know the truth.

I met with manufacturers for three days straight, usually from 8AM until as late as 11PM every night. And while I'm not able to share all of the information discussed in the meetings, I'll do my best to put forth a summary of some of the hot topics we talked about. But before I get to what the motherboard manufacturers told me, I'd like to touch on some of the questions they had for me and thus, for all of you. Just as we are at the mercy of the PR teams at AMD, Intel, ATI and NVIDIA, the motherboard manufacturers are at the mercy of the same folks when it comes to understanding what you all, the end users want.

The biggest question I was asked in Taiwan was about why I felt the 915 chipset wasn't selling well. I'll touch on this more in the chipset section of this article, but with Taiwan coming to us for answers you get an impression of the current situation.

The next question, or worry, on the minds of the manufacturers in Taiwan is the future of dual core technology on the desktop. This is another issue that I'll discuss later in the article, but you can understand the sense of caution if dual core is the number two question on their list.

A surprisingly popular question also revolved around ATI's upcoming chipsets. Next week we'll see the launch of ATI's latest AMD and Intel chipsets, but for the first time we're seeing an unusually large amount of interest from the motherboard manufacturers. This is yet another area I'll be touching on later in the article.

There are many other interesting tidbits of information I picked up while in Taiwan, ranging from Intel's 1066MHz FSB plans to AMD's first Athlon 64 chips with SSE3 support, so without further ado, let's talk about what's going on today.

AMD vs. Intel
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  • ThePlagiarmaster - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    Would definitely like more of these articles.

    I'd have to disagree with the statements on the Pentium M beating an athlon64 though (in any benchmark). You're forgetting that it was running against a SINGLE channel system that had it's memory running on a 266mhz bus if memory serves. It should get soundly trounced by a REAL desktop A64/FX. A faster FSB (800mhz?) won't help the Pentium M much either (It's not bandwidth starved like a P4), so unless they can ratchet up the clock quite a bit it won't be a top performer (which it's not designed to do BTW. It was meant to use low power not ramp up in mhz).

    Great chip for low power laptops but you just can't shove it into a desktop and expect it to change it's spots. This is akin to Intel trying to shove the P4 into a dualcore. Which of course, it wasn't designed for. Can you say shared bandwidth? Moral of the story is, don't expect anything special from a desktop Pentium M except a decent SFF system.

    I'd also have to wonder about the FX57 in 2H05. One chip in 8-9 months or more? I know there is no need for more, but I'd hope AMD would release an FX59 and just stack the price on top of the current chip at that time (the 57). Even if Intel isn't keeping up. Who cares, just charge more, some of us would want it anyway. Why stop at domination? Why not completely obliterate Intel and gain the all important MINDSHARE along the way? We saw just a feature or two of strained silicon make 2.9 on air do-able on OLD .13 tech (fx55). Clearly this process on .09 with SOI should easily do 3.2ghz or so. I hope they release some and just jack up the price. Vendors like voodoo/falcon would surely like to sell them. Hope the roadmaps you guys saw were OLD :)
    Reply
  • jonp - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    Anand. Yes, it was a great article. Well written and packed with valuable information. I, for one, would vote for more trips and more reports. Thanks for going and writing so well. Jon Reply
  • newfc12 - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    Very intersesting article, its very hard to find this kind on info through the normal media channels.Keep up the good work. Reply
  • KrazyDawg - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    #31

    I forgot to add one more thing. You might not have the need for 4+ USB ports but other people might. I personally have 6 USB ports in use. I can have 7 with my MP3 player. They're not used 24/7 but I rather not deal with swapping devices and purchasing a USB hub.
    Reply
  • KrazyDawg - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    #31

    "To answer the MB maker's question about what would make me get off the dime and purshase a new motherboard...

    One that has 5.1 digital out in either Dolby or DTS so I could set it up with other audio equipment. Without that feature they can put most anything they want on a board and I won't upgrade.

    A digital out that just does stereo PCM does not cut it.

    And any more than 4 USB ports is overkill. Firewire IS required."

    If you're idea of upgrading to a new motherboard is based solely on sound you can always purchase a soundcard such as the SoundBlaster Audigy2. I don't think it's reasonable for companies and consumers to pay a "premium" cost for "better" sound. The integrated sound on most motherboards are fine for most users and if you want better you can always install a card. Integrated anything is for cutting down costs which means it won't be offering the best performance most of the time.

    #44

    "What competes with Microsoft's Windows XP? Linux?? pfft....have u ever tried using that crap? You need a doctorate in 'command line' editing just to get the bloody thing to install."

    I hope you're not that ignorant and your comment was an attempt at a joke because these type of comments seem to be everywhere. I've successfully installed Mandrake Linux and RedHat Linux without any problems at all. In fact, it uses a GUI based installation. There's an option for using the command line but there's one for GUI as well. I hope more people do their research instead of basing all their research on one person's opinons. That's one reason everyone is "misinformed" about a product nowadays.
    Reply
  • Pete - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    Fantastic article, Anand. More, please. :) Reply
  • GeekGee - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    Great article... keep 'em coming. Reply
  • Wesleyrpg - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    You'd think intel would of learnt from their mistakes (aka the i850 fiasco), and not try to shove SO much 'new' technology down our throats at the same time.

    DDR2 has no real performance gains, well not yet anyway and plus it's a hell of a lot more expensive, and do be honest why do we need PCI express when AGP cards are just as fast.

    Maybe they should of released a 'migration' chipset first where it supported both DDR, DDR2, and both AGP and PCI Express. You just can't release a chipset these days where you HAVE to replace RAM, CPU, motherboard AND video card in one hit.

    Intel the Microsoft of hardware? yeah right, with so many other good chipsets out there, i don't think that they have the monopoly that you guys think they have, (well maybe for the intel platform) At least there are other chipsets out there competing. What competes with Microsoft's Windows XP? Linux?? pfft....have u ever tried using that crap? You need a doctorate in 'command line' editing just to get the bloody thing to install.

    Whoops i have gotten off the track here.....great article by the way!
    Reply
  • K money - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    I, like #40, registered just to comment on this wonderful article (and I'll probably be visiting the forums now often). Anand - you are very informative and insightful, keep up the good work even if that means flying out to Taiwan every other week! Reply
  • AussieGamer - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    #4 "Intel thinks they are the microsoft of the chipset market... "

    They are.
    Reply

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