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AMD plays the blind squirrel, but that won't last says analyst

Intel had big expectations for Sandy Bridge in notebook computers. The Sandy Bridge platform was the first CPU from Intel to offer graphics and the processor on the same die.

EWeek reports that FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger has noted that after checks with six of the top ODMs for notebooks builds of machines using the new processors from Intel were lower than expected during Q1 and similarly low builds are expected in Q2 as well. Berger wrote, "While notebook demand could improve, and builds could get ratcheted up by June, our contacts suggest Intel's Sandy Bridge products are not stimulating as much end demand as expected, likely impacting AMD, too."

The reason that some think the Sandy Bridge platform isn’t selling well is the Cougar Point flaw that was reported back in late January. The flaw affected SATA ports on boards that used the chipset. The issue would likely result in reduced performance over time. Intel has started shipping the flawed chipsets again in configurations that won't be affected by the SATA ports that may become non-functional over time.

AMD has already noted that Intel's folly with the Cougar Point chipset has helped it to gain some ground. Other than the Cougar Point issue, analysts also think that the booming tablet market may be cutting into the notebook market resulting in reduced sales. AMD expected to benefit from the issue with Intel chipsets, but Berger doesn't expect that benefit to last long. He thinks AMD's Q1 revenue will hit the high-end of expectations or perhaps even exceed the high-end but he doesn't expect that to carry over into Q2.

Berger said, "So, if AMD does achieve the high end of revenue guidance, or potentially better, the upside is likely short term in nature and due to customers turning to AMD for product when Intel's Sandy Bridge was less available due to the chipset bug recall," Berger said in the note. "For 2Q, we think AMD's revenues will fall [quarter over quarter] given its 14th week in 1Q, Intel chipset goodness unwinding, and sluggish desktop builds, still rather unexciting."

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By Samus on 4/4/2011 3:55:27 PM , Rating: 5
The reason that some think the Sandy Bridge platform isn’t selling well is the Cougar Point flaw that was reported back in late January.

Most consumers are completely blind to the recall, and those that were aware of it are likely tech-savvy enough to know the revised part is just that, revised and fixed. The flaw hasn't left a bad taste about Sandy Bridge in anyone's mouths.

The reason it isn't selling well is because it costs too damn much. Of course people are going to flock to Brazos when the E-350 exceeds the performance of Atom graphically and computationally, yet achieves better battery life than Sandy Bridge. Fact: most people purchase based on price. When they see a $400 notebook running Windows 7 in a 12" form factor with ~9 hours battery life (HP DM1z) they drool, and if they're looking at larger notebooks, the AMD Athlon II notebooks for $400 also make a worthy investment.

Yes, Sandy Bridge is faster. Yes, it achieves better battery life than an Athlon II (or pretty much any non-Brazos AMD mobile chip.) Yes, it is a great value to people who need that kind of performance. But most people want something basic and cheap, hence, the success of the Netbook, and now, the tablet. Keeping it <$500 is the ultimate goal. Before the iPad 2 launch, 61% of Apple iPad's (Wifi/non-3G) sold where the $499 16GB version.

RE: "flaw"
By cknobman on 4/4/2011 4:03:01 PM , Rating: 2
Every single person I know owns a laptop with an AMD processor in it for the sheer fact that when they walked into Best Buy and asked for the cheapest notebook they offered it was powered by AMD.

Only exceptions to that rule were a couple of netbooks that were picked up on black friday sales for $149 powered with an atom.

I own a intel core laptop but I am most certainly the minority among the people I know. Being a software developer I pay attention to performance and specs and consider price secondly. Everyone else I know (who is a regular non technical educated consumer) just goes for whats cheap.

RE: "flaw"
By FITCamaro on 4/4/2011 4:22:22 PM , Rating: 2
One consideration I'd have with these CPU+GPU on die notebooks is graphics performance. AMD is clearly superior in this aspect. And the CPU performance is still more than good enough to get the job done. Intel only leads in battery life by a small bit. But its still important. Just all depends on what you're looking to do with the laptop. If you care about GPU accelerated programs, you might want to go with AMD. If you're just doing web browsing and Word/Excel, you'll be fine with Intel with the enjoyment of longer battery life.

RE: "flaw"
By Smartless on 4/4/2011 4:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly I'm thinking some of these people would be happy if it ran their flash games on Facebook. If it can run Farmvile, everything else will be fine.

I have a Asus EEE netbook running XP with an old Atom N280. It gets great 8 hr battery life while I'm running movies, typing reports, checking email etc. and that's what I bought it for. Though for flash games, not happening. I wonder how much of a difference it would make?

RE: "flaw"
By vol7ron on 4/4/2011 10:13:45 PM , Rating: 3
I think some people are missing the point that many enthusiasts are waiting on the Z68 chipset. H67 and P67 (even patched) aren't worth it. The thing I'd like to see is how many of these enthusiasts are able to effect the market, or it could be that many consumers nowadays are knowledgeable about computers and do their research as enthusiasts would.

Still, the buzz is around the Z68, why buy the proc and then wait? If the Z68 comes out too expensive (more than the P67 right now), then I'm switching to AMD. Like others said, it's a much cheaper system. I know someone that upgraded their CPU and GPU for $300 (mostly the gpu) - both are decent. For me to have a comparable upgrade with Intel it would cost $600+ ($200+ for cpu/mobo/gpu) because most proc upgrades require a new socket - a game I'm not willing to play anymore.

RE: "flaw"
By 7Enigma on 4/5/2011 8:27:14 AM , Rating: 1
This is true for desktops not for notebooks however.

RE: "flaw"
By Samus on 4/5/2011 11:42:55 AM , Rating: 2
Right, the Z68 chipset isn't really "delayed" as it is just further down the marketing pipe. The mobile sector was what Sandy Bridge was targeted at as Nehalem is still more than adequate for the desktop market. As Anandtech said, Sandy Bridge isn't a convincing enough solution to warrant replacing (or even upgrading) an existing Nehalem desktop. It offers better video encoding performance, better overclocking potential and about 5% more performance clock-for-clock.

I run a Core i7-950 (which I upgraded recently to from a i7-920 just for the better turbo mode overclocking curve) but for just about anybody, even myself, its wasted power. The only CPU intensive tasks I run are games, where single and dual core performance matter (hence wanting the second=gen turbo mode clocking curves.)

But I appriciate the low power consumption (for a desktop) and reliability the x57 chipset has given me.

My laptop, however, is an AMD Brazos. It was a great replacement for my aging T40 which never cracked 2 hours of battery life (first-gen Pentium M 1.4ghz) but was completely reliable for nearly 10 years.

I feel bad for Intel's uf up because they've traditionally provided rock-solid solutions, something AMD has been spotty on, mostly because of the chronic failure of nVidia mobile chipsets (and even some desktop nForce 6150 series) giving THEIR chips a bad rap. All the more reason buying ATI was an attractive solution. When the Athlon launched with the original AMD 760/761 chipset (1999?) I remember it being the most stable AMD platform I'd even used to that date. Gone were the days of the K5 on a VIA or SIS chipset (although the SIS 735 was pretty good) and we can thank Intel and Netburst for giving AMD that chance to push that into the common market.

RE: "flaw"
By Taft12 on 4/5/2011 12:31:59 PM , Rating: 2
There's only "buzz" around Z68 for about 1% of the PC-buying public.

As others have pointed out, Brazos (and to a lesser extent Athlon X2) has taken a huge, huge bite out of the notebook marketshare. A friend who works at Future Shop corroborated this -- he thinks AMD laptops are more than half of sales now.

Finally, The percentage of desktop PC shipments compared to notebooks is shrinking by the day.

Things are actually looking better for AMD these days than they have for several years which is an impressive turnaround.

RE: "flaw"
By vol7ron on 4/6/2011 10:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, AMD is still in the race.

I'm looking to build 2 computers in the next year; 1 desktop and 1 HTPC. The HD-3000 makes me think that Sandy Bridge is a good solution for the HTPC. I'm still running an OC'd C2D-E6600 in my desktop, so anything would be an upgrade for me :)

What I've realized is that OCing has made my processor, which should be completely outdated, still perform well and in some cases outperform some stock clocked chips. What that means is that the Z68 is the chipset I'll need. The E6600 is still on its deathbed, it just doesn't have that nagging cough just yet - mind you it's a 4-5 year old chip, which is pretty amazing because I used to replace every 2 years.

As for laptop, AMD might be a nice to have. For one, I like keeping the competition lanes open. I don't want to see AMD go down. But these days, I'm looking for low power, especially since GPUs are requiring astronomical amounts.

It's not right now that power draw is as an important factor, it's later on down the road, when the electric bill is more $/kWh and all the new procs are much more efficient with a higher performance/Watt. That's when you start toying with the idea of upgrading to the newer CPU again :)

RE: "flaw"
By theArchMichael on 4/4/2011 5:19:37 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah I agree, I find you can get a lot more for a lot less if you get an AMD equipped laptop with a discrete graphics processor, rather than an Intel monster processor with a crappy IGP or discrete graphics via Nvidia.
Better for games and depending on what kind of projects you are working on, more than sufficient for any IDE.

RE: "flaw"
By BSMonitor on 4/5/2011 12:37:37 AM , Rating: 3
One consideration I'd have with these CPU+GPU on die notebooks is graphics performance. AMD is clearly superior in this aspect.

AMD does not have a CPU+GPU that competes against Clarkdale and Sandy Bridge. AMD's Athlon and Phenom mobile lines are actually woefully incompetent in power and performance.

RE: "flaw"
By Calin on 4/5/2011 4:20:07 AM , Rating: 2
Meanwhile, Atom is woefully incompetent in performance, and Clarkdale and Sandy Bridge are woefully incompetent in price.

RE: "flaw"
By BSMonitor on 4/5/11, Rating: -1
RE: "flaw"
By Taft12 on 4/5/2011 2:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
With any luck your flamebait post will be rated to -1 by the time I post this, but your arrogance mirrors Intel's and it's crucial to note that cheap trailer parkers drive the volume in the market. Intel ignores them at their own peril.

RE: "flaw"
By BSMonitor on 4/5/2011 2:57:14 PM , Rating: 1
it's crucial to note that cheap trailer parkers drive the volume in the market

Really, Intel does millions of processors per quarter. The vast majority is business PCs.

If retail was where it's at, why does AMD only control 12% of the total CPU market when it does 50% or more of the retail sales.

You are completely wrong in your statement.

RE: "flaw"
By Dribble on 4/5/2011 4:45:37 AM , Rating: 2
Everyone I knew walked out with an i3 370M processor as that's what the best budget notebooks with some sort of cpu performance had. That's not Sandy Bridge either, it is still a sale for intel however.

RE: "flaw"
By BSMonitor on 4/5/2011 2:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
Every single person I know owns a laptop with an AMD processor in it for the sheer fact that when they walked into Best Buy and asked for the cheapest notebook they offered it was powered by AMD.

Exactly. And people walking into Best Buy is such a huge minority of the actual processor sales... compared to business PC refresh cycles. So, the Q1 cycle reverted to clarkdale and lynnfield processors in most businesses. Even without the bug, most of the PC's shipped in Q1 would not have been Sandy Bridge. Intel's own roapmaps show it takes at least a couple quarters for a new chip to push a previous chip family out of the way.

Embarrassing, yes. Benefit to AMD, doubtful. The fastest AMD processor still competes against the Q9650 from 3 years ago. Not against Core i5/i7s.

RE: "flaw"
By Da W on 4/4/2011 4:13:32 PM , Rating: 5
CPU power doesn't matter anymore. People want "usable", and for extra goodies they might prefer good graphics.
Llano is coming. Cheap notebook with powerhouse graphics for everyone.

RE: "flaw"
By omnicronx on 4/4/2011 4:29:53 PM , Rating: 4
The flaw hasn't left a bad taste about Sandy Bridge in anyone's mouths.
Of course it has, the manufacturers were flat out not using them.

Consumer backlash is not the only impact a recall can have..

If the major manufacturers were not selling them in Q1 (which they were not), consumer opinion does not mean very much as they are not the ones truly making the decision.

Even now you can only find them on higher end machines, most likely because they were weary of the second generation chips that had the supposed fix. The manufacturers have been making the choice for consumers, leaving Cougar Point to higher end laptops and forgoing using it on almost all of its mid and low end laptops.

As I result I don't really think its because they cost too much (the higher end laptops are priced quite nicely compared to the alternatives all things considered), its merely the general availability on lower end machines which is clearly going to impact your volume sales.

RE: "flaw"
By JarredWalton on 4/4/2011 5:47:54 PM , Rating: 5
This whole report is stupid beyond words. Of COURSE Sandy Bridge sales were lower than expected for Q1... like probably they sold close to nothing in February and March. Fixed chipsets really only started showing up in the latter part of March, and for many OEMs it won't be until late April that all supply constraints are gone.

Which is not to say that there aren't people who are down on SNB, but for notebooks I think it's a great upgrade. The catch is that you should probably be running a Core 2 tech laptop for the upgrade to make sense; if you already have Arrandale, the update is only incremental.

RE: "flaw"
By Samus on 4/5/2011 11:51:02 AM , Rating: 2
Most people shopping for a laptop that ordered a Sandy Bridge system that had their order canceled probably didn't say "I'll just cancel my order, I don't need a computer." They probably just ordered something that was available.

Manufactures can be pissed all they want, but they definately aren't hurting from it economically, especially considering Intel is buying back the chips in motherboard-form at damn near retail cost.

RE: "flaw"
By BSMonitor on 4/5/11, Rating: 0
RE: "flaw"
By dsx724 on 4/4/2011 4:31:46 PM , Rating: 5
Sandy Bridge is a waste of my time. I want my $200 back. I've used AMD for years on all my home server. Decide to spend $2k on an Sandy Bridge "upgrade" and I am one of the unlucky ones who has to tear down my server, face 3 hours of downtime, and replace the motherboard. Epic fail Intel.

RE: "flaw"
By silverblue on 4/4/2011 4:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, and I know you won't want to hear this, nor is it really the point, but won't it be worth it in the end?

RE: "flaw"
By bigboxes on 4/4/2011 5:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
What are you using your home server for that you needed such an upgrade?

RE: "flaw"
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/5/2011 8:40:49 AM , Rating: 1
Is that really any of your business what he uses it for?

RE: "flaw"
By bigboxes on 4/5/2011 1:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
That doesn't make any sense. I'm not being critical of AMD/Intel, so don't pull me into that argument. I own both. I was curious what kind of server application(s) he needed Sandy Bridge for. Sounds like someone needs a hug.

RE: "flaw"
By Samus on 4/5/2011 2:19:48 PM , Rating: 2
Is that really any of your business what he uses it for?


RE: "flaw"
By euler007 on 4/4/2011 5:18:02 PM , Rating: 3
Wouldn't it be much easier to just use ports 0&1, and if you need additional ports drop in a sata card?

RE: "flaw"
By fic2 on 4/4/2011 6:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
For my work laptop (supplied by me) I am using a 5+ year old Dell E1505 w/T2300 (core2duo 1.67GHz). Use it like a desktop mostly. Still pretty much fast enough. I have been thinking about getting a new laptop, but would definitely keep it around $500. There are some nice 380M based ones that are sounding pretty good. Wouldn't mind getting an i3-2310 based something but really haven't seen any.

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