February 23, 2005 12:42 PM PST

Dell's stance on AMD: Look but don't touch

Dell and AMD might never be a match.

Dell--the only major PC maker that doesn't currently use Advanced Micro Devices' chips in at least one product line--on Wednesday confirmed that after leaning toward AMD chips in 2004, it's now leaning in the other direction. Dell continues to sell only computers with Intel Inside.

Kevin Rollins, Dell's CEO, told attendees of the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium in Phoenix that Dell looked harder at AMD during Intel's difficulties in 2004. He also predicted promising days ahead for AMD.

AMD has "done some nice things, and they are making some headway," Rollins said. But "do I think that that's going to be enough to have us move off (of Intel)? Well, now it's looking like no. For a while, it was looking like yes."

Technically, nothing about Dell's stance on AMD has changed. Dell executives' standard response has been that the company constantly evaluates AMD's chips, as well as those from other suppliers, but that it currently has no plans to offer AMD chips in its PCs. That remains the stance, Rollins said.

But during 2004, Dell executives, including Rollins, started following up their standard retort about plans for AMD chips with numerous accolades for the chipmaker, raising speculation that Dell was close to announcing an AMD Opteron server or maybe a desktop based on AMD's Athlon 64 FX chip.

The time may still come
Last October, Rollins and other Dell executives praised AMD for its recent progress. They called it a technology leader in moving standard PC processors to 64-bit addressing and praised its development of dual-core PC processors.

"We believe there will come a time when we use AMD products, too," Rollins said during a November appearance in Boston.

Meanwhile, Intel suffered a number of troubles in 2004. The chipmaker delayed a new version of its main notebook chip, the Pentium M, and pushed back or even cancelled forthcoming desktop Pentiums. But Intel--which also introduced 64-bit extensions into its Xeon server chips and sped up its plans to deliver dual-core processors in 2004--has since turned things around, Rollins said.

Actions such as adding 64 bits and speeding up dual-core development put Dell customers at ease, Rollins said. That, in turn, eased the minds of Dell executives.

"Whenever one of our partners slips on either the economics or...technology, that causes us great concern," he said. "For a while, Intel admittedly slipped technologically, and AMD had made a step forward. When that happens, you're going to see us respond."

Still, it would be premature to say Dell won't move in AMD's direction again in the future, Rollins said.

AMD, for its part, is trying harder than ever to woo Dell. The company has added an ally in Mort Topfer, a former Dell vice chairman who now sits on AMD's board of directors.

Given Dell's new goal of hitting $80 billion in annual revenue--a goal that will require the company to increase its share of the PC market considerably--some analysts believe that it's a matter of time before Dell chooses to build a line of AMD-based computers.

"They have come close many times," Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, said of the companies' relationship recently. "I think of it as Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown."

7 comments

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My thoughts on Dell and AMD.
I don't care whether Dell caries AMD or not because I won't own a Dell. I used to sing the praises of Dell, but not any more. Between their use of FUD and non standard parts use I just don't have any use for them. I know they aren't the only ones who do that and I don't buy from those guys either.

Here is a list of computers I won't ever buy...

Dell
Gateway
HP/Compaq
Toshiba
Sony

I know this is probably going to make a few of you hot under the collar, but just my opinion, but it comes from working on them. HP, Dell, and Gateway suck the worst though. Toshiba just has bad business practices (got burnt once). And although I have like a lot of things from sony, just never their computers.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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Provide AMD Machines
I agree with the first poster, I generally don't buy Dell machines either. But have to work on them daily at work, and I just can't stand them at all. They are sloppy, badly built machines.

But I digress. Dell needs to start providing choices with their desktop/laptop product lines. I for one dislike Intel chips greatly! They are blotted, and tend to get hotter than AMD chips. AMD spends a good amount of time researching what the market wants and needs, Intel doesn't. AMD offers better CPU's and generally want to push the market to 64-bit processing. Something that Microsoft/Intel refuses to push.

I don't understand why Dell just can't offer an AMD line. HP/Compaq does it (I'm not saying that HP/compaq machines are any better.)

Dell it's time to give people some options here! This Look but don't Touch is pathetic.
Posted by (3 comments )
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My thoughts on Intel.
I haven't ever really had a problem with Intel (I buy AMD, though). If I had a complaint about Intel it would be they are full of themselves. If Intel ever decided to build an effecient processor they would probably put a real hurting to AMD again. When your stock cooler can't keep you proc cool in an approved and clean case you got's some problems joe.

I find it amusing that Intel dogs AMD for the 64-bit procs then has to tuck tail and add it to their procs. Unfortunatly AMD and Intel are locked into a dying format. I believe that giving the oppertunity AMD and/or Intel could come up with a much more efficent and better processors based on a non x86 design. IBM's Cell procs sound very promising.

Speaking of comparisons, if Microsoft rewrote Windows in major part or the whole thing with security it's primary design I really don't think linux would stand a snowballs chance in hell of dethrowning Microsoft. However as long as Microsoft continues to put duck tape over the holes in Windows it's never going to get any better.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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Dell is AMDphobia
I know this is silly but it true. Dell is too scared to touch Jerry Sanders ideas. Advanced Mirco Devices In Dell computers. Oh No!, it must not be Dell then.
Posted by Willy Wonker (73 comments )
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Dell is...
You can fill in the blank on this one. AMDphobic is a good word. I think they are in love with Intel. Either that or Intel is offering them one heck of a good deal not to use AMD.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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Dell is an Intel Drone, No innovation at all.
Read Intels product roadmap and you are reading Dells roadmap. Dell used to provide quality, now they just provide commodity items. I personally would not have a Dell. While their service and support used to be "hands down" the best in the industry, that is no longer the case. When you purchase a Dell now it is no different than if you walked into Circuit City and bought an EMachine system.
For enterprise customers their only attraction is their system configuration stability (lifetime) but even that has changed.
Dell has been relegated to selling other's innovation and even products. They are now the Walmart of computers. Even in the Optiplex line they use the flimsiest of cases and flexible pc connectors. I would expect this from a far east manufacturer but not from Dell.
Dell is now last in my book as far as referrals.

Fred Dunn
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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I don't even look at Dell Systems...
Haven't bought a Dell since the Athlon came out - and I used to be a big Dell/Intel fan. Give me the best technology for the money or lose me as a customer. I reward cost-effective and innovative companies with my $$.

I do find all the Dell flyers I receive in the mail and in my Sunday Newspaper insert roll up into nice kindling logs for my fireplace though...
Posted by BlueInWI (226 comments )
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