Four AMD dual-core prices now at or near Intel price/performance curve

Posted by Scott M. Fulton, III

Sunnyvale (CA) - As street prices start to stabilize following discounts on Intel's Pentium D series, and AMD's Athlon FX and Athlon 64 X2 series, dual-core processors announced Monday, it's now clear that AMD is positioning its 64 X2s in very close alignment with Intel's 65 nm Pentium D 900 series. With updated data from PriceGrabber and Froogle gathered today, TG Daily now estimates that the four least expensive dual-core processors AMD now offers is sufficiently price competitive with the performance curve set by Intel.

As demand increases, the prices consumers are paying for both Intel and AMD prices rose slightly over yesterday, with the dual-core 4800+ rising by $5 to $373, and the Pentium D 960 rising by $14 to $375, according to PriceGrabber. Backing the trend is the Pentium D 940, which dropped $18 on average to $201, and the apparently discontinued FX-60, which fell a nice $48 on average to $828. Street prices on Core 2 Extremes shipping in advance of Intel's official release on Thursday, fell by $41 to $1,119.

Dual-core price/performance analysis chart 25 July 2006

Our latest chart shows how the dust is settling on the low end of the scale. As before, our green dotted trend line represents the relative price/performance curve for AMD dual-core processors, based on price data acquired from PriceGrabber last Tuesday. The blue trend line represents Intel's current price/performance curve based on today's updated data; the red trend line represents AMD's. As was the case yesterday, AMD's top-of-the-line Athlon FX-62 is the spoiler for that company's trend, currently selling for $892 on average. It's setting the premium for AMD this week, although that company does not presently have a performer scored as high as Intel's Core 2 Duo. If it did, that chip could set the premium instead, and AMD could perhaps afford to drop FX-62 prices further within the curve.

As we noted yesterday, the Athlon 64 X2 models 3800+, 4200+, and 4400+ fall below our projected Intel price/performance curve. The 4800+ is ever so slightly above that curve - so small an interval as to be statistically negligible - although its direct competitor, the Pentium D 960, falls above its manufacturer's own curve even higher. Once again, two apparently discontinued AMD processors, the FX-60 and the X2 4400+, obstinately refuse to drop street prices, causing "camel humps" in the AMD line.

If you're wondering where these four AMD processors fell on the chart last Tuesday, draw vertical lines straight up from the red plot points indicated, to the green plot points directly above them. This is how far they fell, which is an historically significant interval.

What we're witnessing here is two CPU architectures transitioning between the high-performance segment of the market and what some are calling the "business performance" segment, which is the higher end of the professional spectrum. Intel precipitated this transition more rapidly than usual. On the low end at least, AMD has effectively responded, although without the aid of a new performance leader ready to go, to challenge the high end now set by Intel.

UPDATE: While PriceGrabber reports the average selling price for the Athlon X2 5000+ remains high at $493 - well above AMD's revised processor-in-a-box (PIB) suggested price of $301 - one TG Daily reader has discovered at least one retailer - TechOnWeb.com, which has received high ratings from independent reviewers - taking advance orders for the part at $317.95.

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