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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  • Degrador - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    More of these articles would be great. Any chance you'd have a more specific idea of when SSE3 A64s would be available? I was thinking of upgrading in Jan, but might wait a bit longer for those, but I'd prefer not to have to wait too long (might get a 3000+ and wait for next upgrade for SSE3).

    Btw, #3, the forum attendees make up a rather small section of computer buyers. Most people purchase from OEMs, and are more familiar with the Intel label. Hence Intel can be as demanding of mobo makers as they like. 915 and 925X give them more advertising power (all advertisers seem to love techno babble and product code names), so Intel want to make it available as much as possible. Even recently I had a friend - who I thought was pretty cluey as far as computers were concerned - buy an Intel 3.0 instead of A64 simply because he's always had Intel machines (didn't believe or trust me in A64 suggestion).
    Reply
  • KHysiek - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    I don't get why all mobo makers are so quick to use nforce4 for all segments and exclusively for high-end market (includint enthusiast). Chipset is still buggy (HT 800 only), and after few years on the market they drivers lack a lot of maturity. It will also probably be the most pricey of all.
    Except SATA2 there is nothing really interesting and standing out in this chipset (SLI is very minor thing, wanted by >0.001 percent of potential customers).
    Reply
  • drifter106 - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    I must say this was a well written and informative article. Your style of writing is very much appreciated!! I strongly urge you to continue providing readers and members of this community with technological information. Its icing on the cake!!

    Decalores!!!
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Anand, what are you doing next week? Up for another trip to Taiwan? (that means I want more articles like this... but don't forget about reviews... Far Cry 1.3 has been out for a while now and a certain other website has a very extensive review of it) Reply
  • IceWindius - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Its quit obvious that Intel has overestimated themselves, the market and the simple fact that you can only shove so much stuff down peoples throats before they become annoyed.

    In this case, they tried to hard and to fast to push and shove new technology that showed little to no increase to not only their previous chipset and CPU generation, but showed worse performance in comparions to AMD's offerings, which are much cheaper in every shape and form.

    Just goes to show that no corporation is perfect and the fact that Intel, the mother of all that is CPU related is getting its ass reamed in desktop, server and chipset area's show that over confidence and cheast heaving in the end will leave both you and the customer bitterly dissapointed.

    Go AMD go!!!
    Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    AMD rules, Intel sucks big donkey dong.....

    ermmmm. That said I am extremely interested in the release of "desktop" Pentium M Mobo's. I'd love to see desktop comparisons putting this chip up against intels and AMDs finest desktop procs and chipsets. I'm thinking compact, kick ass cluster? Too bad the chips are so frigging pricey. however the energy savings may pan out to help justify the cost a little. Did I mention intel sucks big donkey dong for pricing so damn high? (Whistles and pretends Athlon FX chips don't exist)
    Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    I appreciate this "straight from the horse's mouth" reporting. It takes things a step beyond the usual efforts to "read between the lines" to try and figure out what is going on behind the scenes.

    Keep up the good work.
    Reply
  • jimmy43 - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Intel thinks they are the microsoft of the chipset market... Reply
  • Beenthere - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    It's amazing that Intel has NOT learned from past mistakes... They still falsely believe they can strong-arm the Asian Mobo makers and get away with it forcing them to buy 915 chipsets to get 865's. Intel is their own worst enemy and their poor sales show that reality has caught up to the huge egos and their arrogance has cost them dearly.

    I suspect the Mobo makers will warm up to ATI's PCIe RS480 Mobo chipset REAL fast when they see that no one is interested in Intel products and everyone is demanding AMD Mobos with Via890/nF4/ATI RS480 and PCIE. All you need to do is look at the forum activity for proof.

    I'm sure with ATI selling their own Mobo as they do graphics cards, some Mobo companies will try to use the nF4 as leverage, but that could be a huge mistake. There is plenty of room for VIA/Nvidia/ATI Mobos for AMD's S754/939/940. Since ATI claims they will ship PCIe Mobos first and that these Mobos will be AMD CPUs with Intel RS480 Mobos coming some time next year, it looks like the Asian Mobo companies are gonna have a lot of 915 chipset Mobos they can't sell while ATI cleans up with AMD PCIe Mobos.

    The Times, they are a changin for the better. With AMD owning the desktop market and now making serious inroads in the server segment, and Intel without a clue or a canoe for two more years, consumers are the real winners. Any Mobo company that wants to still be in business in 6 months better be offering the latest and greatest AMD processor Mobos or they'll be suffering the same financial woes as Intel is finally admitting.
    Reply
  • Kaji - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    Nice one! Would definately be cool to get more of these... it gives a great insight into the current "state of industry"

    Maybe you could videoconference instead of flying to taiwan everytime :)
    Reply

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