Durons Departure Is a Mixed Blessing

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-04-29 Print this article Print

I don't like the Celeron and did not like the Duron because I consider them "crippleware."

Please rate your level of agreement with each of the following statements: Modern PCs have more power than they need for most of the tasks theyre used to perform; PC buyers give too much weight to the CPU clock rate as an indicator of overall performance; chip makers manipulate CPU designs to improve the apparent price/performance ratio, taking advantage of buyers technical ignorance; chip makers focus resources on the most profitable market segments, forcing PC system builders to use more powerful CPU chips than buyers would otherwise choose; PC buyers need real innovation aimed at reliability and ease of use, not lock-step movement along the Moores Law curve of the fastest machine that can sell for $1,000; when AMD competes with Intel, buyers wind up with a better range of price/performance options.

As it happens, I agree with all the preceding statements. Thats why Im having a hard time deciding how I feel about AMDs announcement that it will stop producing the Duron, its (oh, I gag on this word) "value" CPU that faced off against Intels Celeron.

I dont like the Celeron and did not like the Duron because I consider them "crippleware." They have the high clock rate that it takes to attract buyers notice on the shelf in the big-box retail environment, but they shortchange on-chip cache and bus speed and other vital elements of balanced design.

Imagine a Swiss army knife with plastic blades. Imagine a 12-cylinder Ferrari with a three-speed transmission. Thats how Ive always felt about the Celeron/Duron approach.

On the other hand, what I really want is an operating system that doesnt crash, not a PC that reboots faster. What I want are Web content standards that let me choose my own balance between speed and richness, not a PC that renders graphics more quickly. And if PC component makers and builders are wrong about what we really want, intelligent cellular phones and interactive home theaters will seize the initiative in giving people access to the Net and to Web services.

I look forward to watching the experiment.

Send your hardware improvement plans to peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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