HP Gaming's Sood Sounds Off On State Of Chips

acquired by Hewlett-Packard in late 2006 when he publicly called out Intel processor e-mail that notorious blog post chip

How are two new products from Intel and AMD - Intel's first 45nm desktop CPU and AMD's 'Spider' platform for gaming systems - benchmarking for Voodoo?

As always, we're excited about new technology, especially new processors and video cards. That said, these launches haven't been without their challenges. When you're down to three companies who ultimately control the landscape it's almost like watching a three-headed abomination fight with itself. It's somewhat interesting, to say the least. So interesting that I wrote an article on it here!

That said, I can tell you that we're very excited about Intel's new processor. And HP Gaming, which includes HP Blackbird 002 and the Voodoo product line, will launch it once it passes all of our stringent tests - and it hasn't yet.

As far as AMD's Spider goes, we think there may be an opportunity for a price-performance configuration, but at this point I can't say for sure.

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You mentioned on your blog that you were disappointed that Intel's new 45nm Core 2 Quad Extreme CPU wasn't rolled out with compatibility with Nvidia products worked out in advance. Can you elaborate?

Anytime a major process change occurs there are always minor tweaks/bugs that need to be worked through. What I can say is HP Gaming will not release products with new technology unless that technology passes our stringent tests. This is not only to protect our customers, but also a true testament to our level of engineering. We saw many companies jump on the launch bandwagon, and they are delaying orders up until the middle of January now. How is that good for their customers? You don't need to be a fly on the wall in their customer service departments to hear what their customers are saying.

The bottom line is HP Gaming will launch this new platform when we're ready. We are very excited about it, though. Intel has done a killer job on this processor, no question about it. Their chipset is great too, but we won't ramrod their motherboard into our offering because it doesn't support Nvidia SLI. We could do it with Crossfire, and may do so, but there are other issues which are preventing us from doing so.

What kind of demand from Voodoo customers are you seeing for those new products?

Our customers typically look to us for our recommendation. Already we have lineups for HP Blackbird 002 machines with Voodoo DNA. We expect that when we launch a new platform that our customers will be excited to get their hands on it.

Let's look in the crystal ball. What do you think will be the top processor/platform stories to watch in 2008?

Good question, I think there are a number of interesting technologies and industry dynamics to watch out for.

STORAGE: Solid State will start to kick in. The cool thing about Solid State is you don't need to be a hard drive manufacturer to get into the game. We'll likely see various memory manufacturers, semi-conductors, and others jump into the mix. The storage industry is about to get turned on its head. I still think regular disk storage will be strong, and it will help supplement the Solid State industry. I still think Western Digital will be acquired at some point. I can imagine a Raptor SSD hybrid of some sort.

GRAPHICS: Nvidia can do no wrong. The only time the competition seems to catch up to Nvidia is when Nvidia screws something up. Lately, they've been doing pretty well. And other than not quite being ready for the launch of Intel's new processor, their drivers have been stellar and their focus on core gaming has been nothing short of excellent.

AMD's ATI graphics are getting better all the time. Their latest cards are great. The drivers ... well ... that's another story. AMD started out well, with better Vista drivers then Nvidia, but then Nvidia whipped past them like a Ford GT would against a Chrysler Minivan. I'd like to see AMD put more focus on their video drivers, because if I can't play Crysis, or even Test Drive 2, then how the heck can we recommend them to our customers? Blaaaaahhhhh ... don't even get me started. Test Drive 2? Man ...

ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES: AMD will likely retrench. It seems that AMD may need to scale back a bit, and put more focus into stronger product innovation. They should focus on building stronger relationships with their best customers as they go forward. Hopefully, their asset-light strategy starts to unfold.

What more can I say here other than the obvious? AMD is a necessary company, with great people working inside. They employ some of the best talent in the industry, and it's important that they get through these challenges.

NVIDIA: Nvidia will push platforms. While staying close to their graphics roots, Nvidia will likely push harder into platforms and we've already seen some interesting moves by them this year in the notebook space. There's no doubt that their nForce team wants to own the platform business. Of course, we're delayed slightly on Nvidia-based motherboards for Intel's 45nm, but does anyone really care? It seems to me that most customers are willing to wait it out, which proves that Nvidia has some loyalists in one of the most fickle customer psychographics in the world.

Nvidia should probably get into the business of making CPUs, or pushing hard on GPU computing. They are in the perfect position to do it -- they're strong, they're fab-less and they have one of the smartest CEOs in the world running the show. Who knows? Maybe they'll look to buy VIA ... or perhaps they are watching AMD closely. Either way, they could seriously turn this industry upside down if somehow, somewhere, they were able to create an end-to-end solution for their customers.

All of this makes Nvidia a major competitor of Intel's, and of AMD's. Yet all three companies need to remain best friends!

INTEL: Intel will kick ass. There is zero doubt that Intel has a strong story. Their innovations are amazing, they put their Israeli team front and center, and they continue to innovate like madmen. Intel will likely expand their platform business this year. They are going to get bigger, uglier and more aggressive.

If there's one thing Intel has learned from their previous rough years, it's relationship-building. Their customer service is awesome and they're running on all cylinders. While they continue to tweak their business, they are also adding more cylinders to their engine block, a few turbos and some nitrous oxide.