Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: Re: Introducing "No-Moore's Law"

Author: Robert Hyatt

Date: 07:55:32 03/01/03

Go up one level in this thread

On March 01, 2003 at 09:56:59, Matt Taylor wrote:

>On March 01, 2003 at 00:07:01, Robert Hyatt wrote:
>>What is the point of the question?
>>Will I buy a 3ghz machine today and buy a 3.2ghz machine in 6 months?  No.
>>But the risk is will I buy that 3.0ghz if your competition is right behind
>>you in speed and significantly below you in cost (AMD vs Intel for example).
>>But if you offer me 3.5ghz today, I'll take it if I am in the market for a
>>new machine, no questions asked.
>There is a -lot- of pro-Intel prebias. Even a coworker of mine who knows enough
>assembly to write self-modifying code seems to think AMD is inferior to Intel.
>He once suggested that AMD chips are somehow inferior to Intel chips. While that
>is obviously stupid, I think that is representative of a lot of people. I was in
>CompUSA one day looking for something network-related. I couldn't find it, so I
>was waiting on a sales rep talking to two older women about buying a computer.
>He recommended an AMD-based machine because of cost, and they politely denied it
>and requested Intel specifically because one had a son that told her to get

That has always been a problem.  Even in the PC market, IBM has been a strong
force based on customer demands.  Even the "punch card" was called "IBM card"
which only added to their name recognition.  And they sold crap, and sold lots
of it, because of name recognition rather than technical excellence (IBM is
certainly a reputable company).IE the PS2's were trash.  I remember running
a program "OPtune" that did sector slipping to make disk access faster, and it
reported "This appears to be no faster than a floppy disk, with an average
access time of 100ms +, are you sure you want to run optune on a floppy?"  It
was running on a 20mb hard drive.  :)  But our chair demanded IBM machines when
Tandy had machines with faster processors and much better drives (and everything
else including no micro-channel nonsense.)

So name recognition plays a role.  Right or wrong.

>I don't think Intel is completely ignorant of this, either...

Of course not.  Witness the "Intel Inside" advertising ploy that everyone
has said was the best marketing decision they made.

>>I still don't see how this is an issue.  How will producing a slower product
>>today help me tomorrow?  Once I lose a customer to a competitor, it is _much_
>>harder to get them _back_.  I'd want to offer the best that I could offer, to
>>drain _their_ customers that need more performance.
>>IE Cray _never_ played these games, _ever_.
>>I don't believe any other vendor does either.
>That all depends. You only have to stay just ahead of your competitor in
>performance. Many people buy the high-end part from the high-end company unless
>it is unreasonably expensive. The 3.06 GHz Pentium 4 is generally regarded as
>faster than the AthlonXP 2800 or AthlonXP 3000. (Whether it actually is or not
>is a matter of debate, but popular opinion is what counts here.)
>Dell and Gateway purchase Intel processors in mass quantity. Dell phazed out its
>Athlon line several years ago. Gateway did so shortly thereafter. The desktop
>market is -dominated- by prebuilt PCs. Dell and Gateway are major players in
>this market, and both of them use Intel processors exclusively thanks to Intel
>strongarm tactics.

That's another subject.  IBM did this in the 60's and 70's fighting the "plug
compatible" peripheral folks like Telefile and so forth."  They used the same
sort of tactics to make life miserable for the non-IBM suppliers.

>Basically what I am saying is that Intel holds all the cards. Even when the
>high-end Pentium 4 was obviously slower than the high-end Athlon, Intel was
>heavily favored. The balance has shifted substantially as Intel is more
>competitive now.

I don't disagree there at all, of course.

>Assuming Intel has consistent customers (as I have argued), it is not
>unreasonable to think they might take advantage of that. Releasing chips as fast
>as they can means nobody is going to buy the 1.8 GHz because the 2.6 GHz is only
>$50 more. Releasing chips slowly means the consumer buys 1.8 GHz and upgrades to
>3.6 GHz a couple years later. This gives them more revenue in the long run.

I'm not sure I agree with that.  For the reason that computer vendors have
a constant stream of upgraders as well as a constant stream of new buyers.  The
new buyers will buy when they need new machines and will probably buy at the top
or near the top of the performance curve knowing the machines will have to be
viable for 3+ years.  The upgraders are going to recycle about every three years
and they will likely buy near the top of the performance range for the same
reason.  So the issue is more about "being at the top by the widest margin" so
that you can charge a premium (compare xeon to non-xeon pricing, for example
and then look at how many xeon-based machines are sold in spite of the very
small overall performance difference for most applications.)

So, in summary, I'm going to replace machines every three years or so, if I can,
and I'm going to buy the fastest processors I can, so that they will last as
long as possible performance-wise before I have to replace them again.  Intel
will get no benefit by "holding back" on clock speeds as I am going to buy when
it is "time".  If they jump the processor clock that will likely make "the time"
come sooner, for me...  If they drag it out, that only extends the life of my
current machines since they won't be that much slower.  Seems obvious to me that
"fast as you can go" is the way to sell the most...

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