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Comment: AMD plays down opportunity to trump Intel

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By Mark Davison, in Barcelona
AMD launched its Barcelona quad-core processor in the city it's named after yesterday, but the general consensus among the more than 120 EMEA journalists that assembled for the event was that AMD had missed a trick or two in putting one over arch-rivals Intel. 

While the long-awaited Opteron "native" quad-core processor no doubt heralds a return to competiveness of AMD versus Intel, AMD executives at the European launch came across as mostly too politically-correct during the course of their presentations.
About the most competitive scenario to emerge was the vision of Dirk Meyer challenging Hector Ruiz to arm-wrestle over who would present in Barcelona. (Dirk says he won by default because Hector refused to take up the challenge).
The emphasis for most of the day seemed to be on "energy efficiency" – the old power per watt chestnut that Intel has made its warcry over the past few months. One of the many European PRs on duty at the launch was quick to remind any hacks that would listen that the phrase was first used by AMD at the original launch of the Opteron in New York in 2003. And he's right. Problem is, Intel has, in the past few months, sprung on the concept and seized it as their own. AMD, seemingly cowed by Barcelona's delays, has remained silent.
Now, AMD has announced its own benchmark in this space – ACP, or average CPU power. The mind boggles at what's coming down the line.
Of course, there were the other three main benefits of true quad-core to consider: investment protection, optimal virtualisation and outstanding performance, and AMD rolled out the appropriate partners at the appropriate time. IBM, Dell, HP, Sun, Novell, VMWare … all were happy to espouse on the benefits of the newest processor, but eventually they too ran out of ways of saying they were happy to be part of the latest celebration.
And, as one wag among the European hack contingent pointed out, they'll probably be sitting at next week's Intel Developer Forum saying the same things.
The fact of the matter is that Barcelona is a significant processor announcement. It does herald the return of AMD as a real contender against Intel. It does help them leapfrog their opponents. And, if they can get the volumes and pricing right, it will help them regain the loyal channel that has drifted over the past year or so – a channel that used to be the envy of all.
So why not put more emphasis on the scalability of the "native"? Why not drive home the stability of the roadmap? The backwards compatibility? Why not get in the face of your main competitor?
Why be so politically-correct when you know you've got a good product?
After all, if you want to be competitive, you have to compete.
And in Barcelona, AMD looked like it wanted to compete … but wasn't sure.