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Commentary: "Built for speed" does not necessarily make a chip winner

At a time when Intel is struggling with supply problems, Gartner believes AMD has a prime opportunity to break into the lucrative commercial PC market.

See news story: AMD debuts new chips, eyes corporate market

By Kevin Knox, Gartner Analyst

At a time when Intel is struggling with supply problems, Gartner believes AMD has a prime opportunity to break into the lucrative commercial PC market.

However, an AMD rally will not necessarily be the result of its upcoming Thunderbird microprocessor with its focus on speed. Most enterprises, and many consumer buyers, are less concerned with speed and overall performance than they used to be. Platform stability and overall price/performance are the keys for most PC buyers today, particularly enterprises.

As hardware continues to significantly outpace most mainstream software requirements, Gartner believes that the megahertz rating game is less important as a key decision metric in buying decisions. Therefore, Gartner does not expect AMD's enhanced Athlon microprocessors (Thunderbird) to be key in threatening Intel's dominance of the commercial PC market.

None of the major PC vendors offer AMD microprocessors in their mainstream commercial product lines. And it is not because of performance. What will help AMD gain on Intel will be AMD's ability to demonstrate financial and technical consistency to PC makers. Gartner believes this approach is AMD's best bet toward overcoming Intel's extremely strong brand equity and becoming a long-term player in the commercial PC marketplace.

PC makers have been hesitant to sign deals with AMD because of its past financial fluctuations and production issues. Over the past year, however, AMD has turned the corner financially and has been addressing some of production concerns (for example, the problem that it couldn't meet volume requirements).

Right now is probably as good a time as any for AMD to make a move. Intel has been unable to meet upside demand and deliver on some of its technologies (processors as well as chipsets) and continues to be plagued by product flaws. But Thunderbird is not necessarily a prerequisite for AMD's closing in on Intel. Thunderbird does, however, indicate that AMD is becoming more aggressive with its product road maps.

Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.