It was only a few years ago during the launch of the original Phenom that AMD began the mantra of targeting the mainstream users. No more would we see a company bent on only being the best but rather a company that was bent of being the best value. With this launch we where introduced to the concept of platform computing and Spider.
The concept was simple Spider would provide this amazing platform that allowed the every day person a computer at a great price and received a wonderful computing experience. The platform would scale so as the needs of the user grew they could gradually build up the platform rather than have to spend a bunch of money at one time.
To say this was not initially well received is an understatement. Many consider this a cop out by AMD to spin of an inferior product. However a few reviewers caught the vision and saw the potential of where this was heading.
As AMD brought new products to the market the platform grew and eventually evolved into Dragon with the introduction of the 4000 series video cards. AMD did an amazing job of pricing this cards and continued with their mantra of computing experience being more important than benchmark numbers. Those reviewers from the first round felt vindicated. Now it was not just a small band of reviewers that held this up for all to see, others, big names began to jump on the wagon. This may not have had the sex appeal of the enthusiast market but it was sexy in it’s own right.
Now we are looking at the next generation of video cards from ATI. The reviewers all agree the 5850 is redefining the mainstream with the power it is bringing at a mainstream price. Yet as we look at those reviews and take a a deeper look, something is different. First with this release, unlike past releases we are not seeing any mantra of experience over benchmarks. Conspicuously absent as well is any mention of how this card impacts Dragon or for that matter if this moves the platform concept to a whole new level. AMD seems in fact kind of silent on a front they have been screaming about for a few years now.
However it is not just AMD, the review sites are silent as well. Oh sure they are excited about the card and they should be, it is an amazing card. However what was most interesting was what these reviews all had in common besides praise, they where all on Intel platforms. Not a single review I looked at (as of 15:00 CST October 2nd), and I looked at a lot, of 5850 or 5870 showed an AMD platform in the testing.
Oh wait it does not stop there, after a bit of effort I got Jay Marsden from ATI to send me a copy of the PDF with the presentation given concerning the 5000 series. I have over the years seen a lot of these and I can tell you they all are basically the same, except this time. When you get to the benchmark slides of previous briefings, at the bottom would be a quick reference of the system setup used for the benchmark, so the reviewer could have a frame of reference to work from. No where in this PDF could I find a SINGLE reference to an AMD processor or the Dragon platform. NO WHERE! The 3000 series and 4000 series made a point of tell you the AMD platform was used.
So lets put this together and see what we have. We have a company that preached a mantra for a few years suddenly out of the blue go silent on the mantra, dead silent. Next that company locks out the reviewers that where supporters of the Dragon concept and the ones that have been with this from day one. Lock out BTW is not just about not getting cards, these people did not get the press releases they have gotten normally as matter of fact over the years. Would have to send ten emails to get one reply and could not get scheduled for any kind of live briefing about the product. Remember these same reviewers had been getting this material for years on a pretty steady stream and never before had to go request it, they where approached.
Next we have AMD not link their product to their platform in ANY press material I have seen, not even on their own websites. The press material they do send out also is void of ANY links to their own platform, despite the fact this has been their standard for the last few years.
Now we come to review sites all of whom seem to do reviews only with Intel systems? I mean lets get serious out of all these reviews you cannot tell me ONE of these reviewers did not have the idea of seeing how the 4850 tied to a 965 would fill out the Dragon concept?
We are left with only ONE logical conclusion, for some reason ATI did not want AMD in the mix? I am sorry if this sounds like a conspiracy theory but get serious, all those reviews and no one did an AMD one? ATI’s own materials do not mention AMD or the platform? They will not even BRIEF people that would be pushing to see this card on the Dragon platform? WHY?
I came up with a baseball analogy that fits this scene we have right now so well.
You have a player step to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and hit a home run out of the park. His team wins the game, maybe not the pennant but the game none the less. As he rounds third the crowd goes wild and the opposing team hangs their head. A classy player upon reaching home heads straight to the dugout and high fives the team, celebrating with them the win. A no class player stands at home plate playing to the crowd and trash talking the opposition. Sound familiar?
The Dragon platform right now has something stuck in it. Not a sword from Intel or an arrow from AMD archers but rather one of it’s own claws buried in it’s chest. The wound it not mortal and the Dragon might very well live but the fact is it’s own body attack it. ATI has throw under the bus not just the reviewers that stood with them and showed the value of the experience over the benchmark, they threw the Dragon platform under the bus and let the bus run over it.
So what do I expect by writing this? Not much really but I did not write it to get something something. I wrote it because this is a LEGITIMATE technology story that I doubt anyone would have covered if I did not. I have likely ended my ability to ever receive AMD review samples again and I do still BTW. However I had to choose between letting a legitimate story die or to risk losing some reviews, I chose my integrity over potential review samples.
I openly invite AMD/ATI representatives to call into my show this Sunday. I offer them a free and open chance to discuss this story and if I am wrong I will HAPPILY retract statements that are incorrect and offer public apologies. I will also for all of you that cannot hear the show record any such calls so they can be made available to a wider audience.
Over the years AMD has tried to come to the public and say they are a different kind of company. They have claimed a higher moral ground than their competition and many of us have bought into that. We saw the potential of the mainstream platform approach and embraced it. Now is the time for AMD to do one of two things. Stop the bus, get out and pick up the wounded and show us we where not all duped, or just keep driving and prove they are like others are truly are the masters of spin.
(Chris Hook Responds: I just got off the phone with Chris Hook because I wanted to ask ATI for an official response to this story. First let me thank Chris for taking the time to talk to me. Chris explained that he thought this was a great story and he too wonders why this has not yet been reported. We got into first the reasoning for the websites and he was very plain that he could not explain this and would like to hear from the site editors as to why this has happened as well. He went on the explain that any references to the Platform where right now being held up in marketing as there are some developments underway in the current platform system.
To end with this story is being posted as it was originally written with Chris’ response on his request. I want to again thank Chris for letting me speak to him on this on short notice. )