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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  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Great info Anand! More of that whenever possible.

    He, he, we thought 2004 was gonna be slow, but it turned out quite nicely, but 2005, man, that is gonna be SLOOOOOOW! Only one new desktop CPU per company before dual core madness begins in late 2005. The biggest story in GPUs is gonna be SLI and we will be watching chipsets mature and GPUs become more available and affordable. None of these things are gonna be terribly interesting be it for eighter speed, price or bugs. I guess I wont be pulling out my wallet all that much in 05, but hey, that's a good thing right?

    The biggest drawback for new Intel's platforms is not PCIe graphics, its DDR2. It's slower and more expensive. Don't these people learn anything? RDRAM anyone? That was at least faster! This is bad even for OEMs, who don't care if nothing is compatible with previous HW since they build whole new system, but they sure as hell care if they have to pay more for less. But then again, they can sell it as if it were faster, but it stil automatically puts PC based on DDR2 in a higher price class and shrinks their profit margins.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Go to Taiwan more often, for sure! I love this kind of stuff :-)

    Nat
    Reply
  • dextrous - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Great article Anand! I think more of these gems would be awesome. Reply
  • Dasterdly - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Good article, just go to taiwain when theres much good info. Hire some locals to cover the rest.
    All the people Ive seen interested in the new intel chipsets want the 925XE. Why are they so excited about ati/intel? Did they hire the soundstorm team or something?
    Reply
  • MAME - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    I was reading reviews about the Intel P4 3.x GHz chip on newegg. One user review said (I sh!t you not):
    "I heard somewhere that AMD's are better for gaming, but they run at suck low clock speeds, maybe they meen the 64 bit version at 2.2 GHz. Why not get a P4? 800FSB HT. If you ever want a 2.4 Ghz Amd prepare to pay $750+"

    With morons like this, Intel is not going to lose much market share.
    Reply
  • manno - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    About destop replacements. I have a laptop that is just that it literaly replaces my desktop. It has a HUGE screen, good grafics card. I played through Doom 3 and FarCry on it, and it stays in my house exclusively. I like it because it has the power I need, I can use it in any room in my apartment (wireless network) and I don't need to be tethered to a desk to use it. It's an emachines m6805 with a 754 A64 @ 1.8 GHZ with 1MB of cache. It's surprisingly cool, and I frequently use it on my lap without a problem, unlike my Dell 1.6 GHZ P4M that gets extremly hot. Is it like an imac? I guess you could say that. But it's very convenient for me because I can move from room to room without needing the space required by a huge desk somewhere. It never leaves the apartment though, and I could loose the batery and not notice the difference, so maybay that's where the incongruity between the laptops they're thinking of, and the "laptop" I'm thinking of. They think people are getting laptops to take the computer with them out of the house/office. I bought my laptop to stay in my apartment but to let me use it away from my desk. I know for a fact that 2 of my brothers are looking for DTR's, and not desktops, because they have the same user habbits as me, so from personal experience I don't see the market dissapearing. Though I also see the usefulness of a laptop that could run for 24 hrs on 1 charge, that's 12' x 9' x 1' and weighs just a pound. But I realy don't see me leaving the apartment to go surf the net. I leave it to get away from the computer, not to use my computer in new places.

    -manno
    Reply
  • emailauthentication - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    great article, its good to know what the people that actually produce this stuff have to say, instead of just feeding us press releases, more articles like this would be greatly appreciated. keep up the good work and thanks for the imformative article. Reply
  • 4lpha0ne - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Here is a small list of possibly fixed bugs:

    http://aceshardware.com/forum?read=115106142
    Reply
  • 4lpha0ne - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Am I blind or why am I inable to find any mention of fixed bugs in the former article (Oct 14th) except in the related discussion thread on aceshardware, where Dresdenboy brings up this idea?

    See http://www.aceshardware.com/forum?read=115105861
    Reply
  • ceefka - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Great article!

    I see again bad news for Intel. They are still big, but this must hurt some way. Intel wouldn't want you to know of course.

    #11 There are also totally ignorant users that buy AMD64, like a few of my neighbours.
    Reply

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