Like Theo, I read AMD's CMO Nigel Dessau's twitter post
asking casually what they should charge for TWKR should they be able to produce enough. For those of you who may not have been following, TWKR is a high-leakage Phenom II X4
that, when combined with extreme cooling and a lot of voltage, can post some incredible overclocking numbers.
But due to the fact that it requires extreme, short-term-solution cooling like liquid nitrogen, I do not agree with Theo that it can command the same price premium as Intel's Core i7 Extreme Edition processors
. Without extreme cooling, the Phenom II TWKR performs a lot like a Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition, yielding perhaps an extra 100-200MHz on air or water. I believe that AMD can productize this part, but it will require some creative thinking on behalf of AMD.
AMD needs to release TWKR as a high-wattage part. Go ahead and slap a 160W TDP on there, your target market won't care. Clock it at 3.8GHz. And qualify a few coolers to work with it, namely something from CoolIT or Asetek. In fact, I believe they should bundle TWKR with a low cost liquid cooling solution like CoolIT's Domino ALC, sell the bundle for $499 to the channel. The only hurdle will be qualifying existing AM3/AM2+ boards to work with the higher TDP, but it can be done. In fact, start out small with the boutiques, we're always the best choke point for these projects and can get the press from it.
For boutiques like us at MAINGEAR, this would mean several things. We have a product that is available in the channel with the full benefits attached to it; a warranty and its cost goes towards our partnership status with AMD. Currently, our top of the line rig, the ePhex, does not have an AMD configuration. We feel that right now the Core i7 fits our high-end customers better than the Phenom II X4. A Phenom II X4 at 3.8GHz out of the box may change that. Add in one-touch overclocking with AMD Overdrive, and even if you only get 3.9 or 4.0GHz out of it, that's still something. AMD shouldn't be worried so much as to the percentage of the overclock, rather the end result. Because that's what will win reviews.
Back in 2005, several boutiques got a green light and support from Intel to start selling Pentium D 840 Extreme Edition
parts overclocked from 3.2GHz to 4.0GHz. Intel supported the boutiques by supplying them with a maintenance-free water cooling solution they designed in-house. This was at a time when Intel really needed to capture back the enthusiast market, which at the time was going to AMD. In those days most boutiques were selling 80% AMD systems. Today, the situation is opposite. Think about that for a minute.
AMD has an opportunity here. I don't know how many "TWKR" parts they can make or find, and even if I did I would violate my NDA if I were to reveal a number. If AMD can release a Phenom II X4 at 3.8GHz (or even 3.7GHz), even at low volume, I do believe they could command a $499 price tag, and I think that from a boutique perspective, they'd gain several design wins.
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