So Conroe has officially given AMD a very sobering wake-up call. Intel has pulled a Night of the Living Dead and lurched back from the grave in a big way. The Pentium 4 architecture (which is really quite interesting and was just never suited to the application to which it was being applied – but thats a topic for another day), has been cannibalized along with the Pentium III descendent that is the Pentium M and the entire thing has been freshened with an optimized pipe, some clever memory access tricks, a deep L2 cache and a fat FSB. The net effect is a devastating blow and, frankly, kind of embarassing for AMD given all of their much lauded "advanced elegant architecture" pieces like onboard memory controller, hyper transport, improved DDR2 interface and optimized FPU.
So one has to wonder what AMD’s next move will be. Their pipeline doesnt look well positioned to battle Conroe and some of their latest moves have been interesting further fueling the desire to speculate. Most specifically is the ATI acquisition.
Personally, I think AMD is planning to drive the creation of a new market segment. I envision them taking the ATI core GPU technology and merging it with their existing CPU core technologies. Hypertransport is very well suited for this and some of AMDs latest developments are geared towards the creation of a flexible architecture which can be efficiently leveraged to crank out configurable packages at manufacturing. A kind of "core configuration to order" approach. I imagine AMD building a multi-core part where there are 2 CPU cores and 1 GPU core on die. Perhaps a high performance core that is 2+2 and available in a 2 socket board package creating a 4×4 for high performance graphics workstation capability on the X64 platform. The possibilities are compelling.