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AMD delaying two Phenom chips, moving others forward

The latest road map change involves two of AMD's quad-core chips for desktops, and will result in the company focusing on triple-core chips and energy-efficient quad-cores in the first quarter.

The hits (not the good kind) keep coming for AMD, as the company has confirmed it is delaying the shipment of two of its new quad-core Phenom desktop processors.

An AMD representative confirmed a report from Ars Technica that the Phenom 9900 and 9600 9700 are being pushed into the second quarter, after they were originally scheduled to launch this quarter. The representative strongly denied that the delays were in any part related to the TLB errata discovered in December that is screwing up AMD's launch plans for its Barcelona server chip and Phenom, which is based on a similar design. UPDATED 1/11 - I got the chip number wrong, the 9700 is the one that's been pushed out.

In place of the delayed chips, AMD plans to focus on its triple-core chips and bring forward the launch of two energy-efficient Phenom processors. It says it's doing this at the request of its customers, which is what AMD (and lots of companies, to be fair) says every time it has to defend a decision. The unanswered question is, if that's really what customers wanted, why didn't you say that in December during the analyst meeting?

Just under a month ago, AMD said the Phenom chips were on track for the first quarter. But PC design cycles take months; if HP or Dell wanted energy-efficient chips during the first quarter as opposed to the more powerful varieties, they would have known that quite some time ago, certainly in time to update the road map at AMD's analyst day.

The representative did admit that "resources" forced AMD's hand to a certain degree, which is code for "we've only got so many chip plants, we've got all these chips we need to build and so we can only build so many of certain kinds." The triple-core chips that AMD plans to emphasize in the first quarter are a creative way of reusing quad-core chips with slight defects to one core. The energy-efficient chips are expected to run at slower clock speeds than the 9900 or 9600, which makes them easier to produce.

All in all, the delay might not hurt AMD all that much, financially. There's still little evidence that people actually want quad-core chips on the desktop, beyond the usual gamer set that will take anything you give them. Companies aren't making a lot of desktop software right now that can take advantage of four cores, and most people don't multitask to the degree that would require four cores. Furthermore, notebooks are where the real action is these days.

But none of this is helping AMD refurbish its image.