An incipient price war between chip giants AMD and Intel may fizzle out after some midsummer skirmishing as AMD has no plans to further cut CPU prices any time soon, said Gary Bixler, AMD's director of marketing for North America.
Intel is widely expected July 22 to cut prices on its three desktop quad-core processors and July 29 to its quad-core server SKUs. The Intel price cuts are perhaps all part of its own cunning plan, but they come on the heels of AMD's own round of price-slashing last week. There's no small amount of speculation that Intel's anticipated move is a reaction to AMD's, and from there the leap to predicting a brand new price war isn't a terribly long one.
"We've tried to be very transparent on price actions. Things got crazy last year, but this year we made it a point to provide the channel with what it wants, which is a predictable business, a stable business. We communicated that price move well in advance to our channel partners. We haven't announced our next price move yet, so take that at face-value -- another one is not imminent," he said.
Bixler added that the Athlon 64 price cuts were "not a reaction to anything that Intel had done."
Sources in the white-box system builder community confirmed that AMD gave them several months of advanced warning on the July 9 price reductions. Those contacted by CRN said no such warning had been issued for more cuts.
"I haven't heard about any more price cuts," said Mike Zabaneh, COO of Tangent Computer in Burlingame, Calif.
Bixler also touched briefly upon several other topics in his interview with CRN. He would not give a hard date on AMD's release of Barcelona, the chipmaker's long-awaited quad-core CPU, simply reconfirming the corporate line on a late-August release. He gave a standard reply to questions about former ATI Technologies chief executive David Orton's surprise resignation last week from AMD just nine months after the two companies combined in a $5.4-billion merger, saying Orton wanted to some "some more time with his family."
But Bixler did mention that AMD would be announcing "major enhancements" in August to its AMD Validated Solutions (AVS) program, though he would not give specifics. The AVS program was launched last year to confront problems the chip vendor had with sub-par platforms sold by third-party manufacturers.
"With AVS, the idea is to give system builders a platform that is AMD-designed, tested, validated and supported from bottom to top. Initially, we did that with Taiwanese partners, but with the acquisition of ATI, we're taking it to new level, where we can offer the channel a full-on AMD chipset," he said.
System builders were mixed about AMD's success in changing its shaky platform reputation. Zabaneh said the vendor was "definitely more stable than it has been in the past."
"They had to come up with a program to validate the chipsets. It's helped. Any time you have those kinds of programs it makes the board manufacturers pay more attention to details," he said.
But J&B Technologies' John Kistler wasn't ready to do business with AMD just yet.
"We build all Intel stuff. Intel's three-year, next-day warranty makes them a slam dunk," said the owner of the St. Louis-based white-box system builder.
"We used to do half-and-half. But if we found a buggy chipset, AMD would go, 'Yeah, we're working on it.' They don't ever tell us, 'You're stuck,' or 'You're screwed.' If anything, AMD support is just straight off a cliff."