AMD vs Intel
I am not someone who is an AMD fan in particular, nor do I have anything against the company. I like competition. I think AMD’s surge forward is an excellent event for the computer industry and it provides pressure on its competitors (namely Intel) to provide a better product at a lower price. While prices had been falling during Intel’s monopoly, AMD’s rise exerted extra pressure on the market and has led to the excellent conditions we have now. With that out of the way…
There’s a tendency in every industry, especially by the youth market, to rip on the “big guy”. In computers, the targets have been SUN, Microsoft, Novell, IBM, Electronic Arts, and so on. People like cheering for the underdog, whether out of a desire to be different or from a genuine sense of fostering competition, that depends on the individual. The point is that big companies are rarely popular.
Intel had managed, for most of its existence, to avoid this stigma. It was a popular company well into the 2000s, and certainly there was no common dislike of the firm until the late 1990s. The reasons for Intel’s continued popularity are many. For starters, unlike many big companies, Intel was rarely content to rest on its laurels. It relentlessly pushed technology and processor speeds, and the market was always able to gobble those extra CPU cycles up. The 8088 gave way to the 8086, then to the variants of the 286 which were quickly replaced by the 32-bit 386 (available in both DX and SX models in various speeds, with a 32-bit and 16-bit bus respectively), which was replaced equally quickly by the 486. Finally, came the Pentium and its successors.
A top-of-the-line 386 PC would cost in the neighborhood of $6000-12000 when the 386 was just launched. When the Pentium II was launched, it was one of the pricier chips Intel had made in some time for the consumer segment, yet prices had fallen to under $4000 for a top end rig by then. When faced with competition from AMD’s K6, Intel launched the Celeron and quickly improved it to make it competitive even though that undercut the market for the Pentium II. Such actions left little doubt that Intel was an aggressive company determined to hold onto market share, to innovate even if it cost money in the short run. That Intel, the old Intel, led the way.
How times have changed.
The problem is that Intel isn’t responding to the AMD challenge. Or rather, the problem is that Intel is merely responding. There was a time when Intel dictated the features processors would have. Intel wasn’t the company responding to competitors, rather it was they who were playing catch-up.