There was a time when it was only Intel that told the consumer bare-faced lies about release dates. They would proclaim this, that and the other to be "available now", only to concede later that nobody on the planet can get you one for love nor money. Nowadays though, both Intel and AMD are at it, and today it's AMD's turn. The chip giant chose CeBit in Hannover to announce that its 1.3 and 1.33GHz parts are available now, and to demonstrate them to the press. The 1.3GHz chip is a 200 or 266MHz FSB part, whereas the 1.33GHz part is 266MHz only. According to AMD, if you wanted to, you could go out and buy one today. What a load of cobblers. Ringing round a few dealers this morning it became apparent that none of them have even heard of the 1.33GHz Athlon, but moreover, none of them even have the 1.3GHz chip! We spoke to Bolton-based Scan Computers, an industry favourite for specialist hardware sales, and they told us that despite advertising the fact that they will have chips this week, in actual fact the 1.3GHz Athlon is not due to be released to them until the middle of April. As for the 1.33GHz chip, well, he had no idea, and suggested I looked at AMD's website. So I did. And what do I discover? This press release. An extract: "At CeBIT, AMD today announced its continued industry leadership position by introducing the 1.33GHz and 1.3GHz AMD Athlon™ processors." The key point to note is the paragraph that none of the newswire reporters bothered to mention in their promotion of the new processors. "Systems featuring AMD's newest processors are available now from leading U.S. manufacturers such as Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Company and micronpc.com, as well as from top manufacturers abroad, including German-based MAXDATA." So in actual fact, nobody has 1.3GHz Athlons, except major US and European OEMs. Or do they? A quick glance around one of the namedropped sites, micronpc.com, revealed no evidence of such a system. Their configuration engine doesn't allow for the input of either of the new AMD parts. In fact, the only site amongst those namedropped in the press release that features Athlon systems based around the new releases is HP.com, whose absurdly difficult to find configurator features two separate 1.3GHz Athlon systems. No 1.33GHz. And at any rate, we feel that this may be some sort of error or badly-coded last-minute inclusion, since the "Details" page for both systems reveal "Included Features: 1.2 GHz AMD® Athlon® Processor". Ho-hum. Closer to home and companies like Dabs.com still plead long lead times (and have no mention of the 1.33GHz chip). Again, OEMs don't have a clue, and Dell don't do Athlons anyway. Major US website PriceWatch.com, which many swear by over there, also carries no mention of either of the chips, which are of course supposedly "available now". You may think we're being a touch unpleasant over all this, but we are paying consumers just like everyone else, and tired of having the mickey taken out of us. When companies blow their trumpets in public, we're more than happy to give them some promotion, as long as they don't take us and our readers for a ride. Wake up, AMD, and start delivering!
"It was a very soft-spoken blackmail."
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