SAN JOSE – The fact that AMD was able to refresh its A-series line may indicate the shortages are over for the 32-nm parts also known as Llano. But a bigger shift in the battle between AMD and Intel will come in 2012 when the two roll out their next-generation offerings, said one top analyst.
"The new parts are basically speed bumps, and I am taking the fact AMD can ship faster versions of A-series chips as an indicator they may be able to improve their availability," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.) "Retailers such as Newegg and Amazon couldn’t get their hands on early versions of the chips because they were so production constrained," he said.
The competitive stance of AMD and archrival Intel remains unchanged.
"Anyone focused on x86 performance at a given price point may find the Intel Sandy Bridge CPU cores outperform the AMD Llano cores which are the K10 cores that have been an AMD workhorse for a decade," said Brookwood.
However, "in graphics, there's almost no comparison" because AMD's integrated Radeon parts surpass what Intel can offer with its Sandy Bridge GPU cores. In addition, AMD can link its embedded and discrete Radeon cores to bolster performance, something Intel cannot do using Nvidia parts.
That all could change in the next iteration in 2012 as Intel rolls out Ivy Bridge processors with improved graphics and AMD rolls out Trinity parts with an upgraded version of its new Bulldozer CPU called Pile Driver.
In the past, Intel rolled out the first desktop versions of its next-generation processors at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Brookwood does not expect that this year.
The Ivy Bridge release "is probably pushed off by the better part of a quarter," he said. "I'm not sure if it’s the 22-nm process technology is not quite ready or the chip sets are not ready because they require [support for] PCI Express Gen 3 and USB 3.0" for the first time, he said.
"We are on schedule to have third-generation Intel Core launch in the spring of 2012," and Intel spokesman said.
As for AMD's Trinity, "the rumors are the design is pretty much baked, and AMD should have wafers going into the oven in early 2012," said Brookwood. "It's likely we could see Trinity and Ivy Bridge come out in similar time frame in 2012," he added.