My house growing up was something of a neutral zone during the console wars. None of the three kids in the house really declared ourselves as Nintendo or Sega fans, and we enjoyed Sonic games just as much as we did Mario & Zelda. Company rivalries have never really mattered much to me, and in the Coke & Pepsi debate, I’m the guy looking for the ‘root beer’ option.
I’ve gotten into the habit of building my own computers, and the time is rapidly approaching where I’ll be doing it again. Opening up a computer case also opens one up to a lot of similar rivalries: ATI vs. Nvidia in your graphics slot, Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Linux as your OS and Intel vs. AMD for your processor. With the hope of having a rig to run games like StarCraft 2, Civilization V and Dragon Age 2 at decent if not optimal levels, I’ve been directed to keep an eye on Intel’s latest golden child, code-named Sandy Bridge.
Intel designed Sandy Bridge to provide a greater amount of performance and flexibility to high-end graphics programs and gamers. It’s aimed at putting out more power for those applications while being efficient in terms of power. However, the chipsets quickly evinced a problem and the products were pulled. Now, the problem is with the motherboard chipsets instead of the processors, and the issue’s been addressed and new chipsets are being minted as I write this. The question is how much this hiccup has hurt the brand and how quickly Intel’s rival, AMD, can turn around their own next-generation chipset, the ‘Bulldozer.’
While Sandy Bridge integrates new hardware pathways, Bulldozer’s a completely new architecture. It’s ambitious on AMD’s part, and the complete redesign promises performance and flexibility comparable to Intel’s highest-end processors as well as “intelligent, automatic overclocking” built into it. We aren’t going to get a good look at Bulldozer until some time in March, while Intel is promising Sandy Bridge will be back on track by late February, which is fast approaching.
I’ll be curious to see if the ‘repaired’ chipsets become available through NewEgg soon, or if Bulldozer will demolish Sandy Bridge before that happens. AMD is sounding pretty aggressive in my opinion, and as much as I’m inclined to go for the new technology if the price is right, I might have to go with a lower-cost option.