In recent days, numerous motherboard makers from Taiwan started to leak a lot of information about motherboards using the upcoming AMD 9-series chipsets, which are meant to complement upcoming AMD FX CPUs based on the Bulldozer core. In order to create a halo effect, high-end 990FX based products are highlighted. Earlier, NVIDIA spilled the beans on the upcoming chipsets from AMD stating that they'll support SLI on the upcoming 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets.
MSI posted a couple of teasing photos of their 990FXA-GD65 motherboard on their Facebook page, which were also sent to the press. In addition to that, Gigabyte posted a whole launch presentation for their 990FXA-UD7 motherboard to their German Facebook page. Finally you can read up on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula/ThunderBolt motherboard at TCmagazine.
Considering the upcoming Computex 2011 exhibition in Taipei, it seems typical that vendors would go on a leaking spree days before the show starts. Computex is scheduled next week on Tuesday May 31st and lasts till June 4th. However, we have spoken with multiple sources in various companies and they're all quite mad at AMD. Why? The reason is a delay of their upcoming high-end processors based on the Bulldozer architecture. This week several rumors were issued from numerous sides. Some of the reports about this are linking to each other in circles, so they are clearly at the rumor stage at this point. Chinese site Zol.com put up some leaked slides about a few AMD FX CPUs scheduled for September 2011. Since they contained previously unmentioned model numbers, it could also be about a product refresh already. Swedish SWEClockers website mentions statements from Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers about new motherboards shipping without the accompanying CPUs. But there is more to it.
Contrary to other upcoming products of AMD, the press has not been sampled with Bulldozer yet and not been informed about an official launch date of the high-end CPU either. Sites such as HardOCP commented:
"We are hoping to show Bulldozer to the public at a HardOCP/AMD event in July."
The launch was originally expected to happen at both Computex and E3. Leaked slides claimed the processor launch would happen at E3, just a few days after Computex which would feature the launch of the 900 Series chipset. Board partners are at the Taipei exhibition were supposed to showcase the boards accompanying Bulldozer. E3 lasts from June 7-9, so a launch on June 7th was portrayed in leaked slides. That is not even two weeks from now, so if anything, at least print magazines should have been sampled already. We have information that this is not the case.
Should the rumors come true, that's dire news for AMD indeed. Intel has already released the Sandy Bridge CPU lineup at a rather competitive price point at the beginning of the year. Up until the current competitive situation, that would not at all been necessary. It could have been an early attempt to dampen Bulldozers success by absorbing people wanting to upgrade their computers. Now according to leaked slides from Turkish Donamimhaber website, AMD plans to price the desktop SKUs competitively with Intel's Sandy Bridge lineup. The top model should just be a tad more expensive than a Core i7-2600K.
AMD Desktop CPU/APU Roadmap from Financial Analyst Day 2010
In a "delay to third quarter 2011" scenario, AMD would face an aggravated competitive situation, with Intel having released speed bump versions of their high-end CPUs and the upcoming enthusiast platform featuring current generation sexa- and possibly octa-core CPUs based on socket 2011 around the corner. Now you might understand why motherboard manufacturers might not be very happy about a possible delay. It would make AMD motherboard sales go down the drain. Regarding the AMD 9-series chipset based motherboards, we are told, that reviewers are supplied with boards now and should conduct their testing with the old Phenom II CPUs which fit into the sockets as well.
From the official side, information about Bulldozer-based products have always been very scarce. In the conference call about the wafer supply agreement amendment investors at the beginning of April and the assembled press were told, that there is "very good progress on Bulldozer" by no less than the interim CEO Thomas Seifert himself. In AMDs 1Q 2011 earnings call Rick Bergman, Senior Vice President and General Manager at AMD when questioned about the launch dates of different Bulldozer-based products noted that:
"...we indicated early summer for desktops and late summer for servers. And that's still where we're at."
In order to get to the bottom of this story, we have contacted Mr. Drew Prairie and Mr. Steve Howard, AMD's PR representatives close to the heart of the matter. We inquired about the statement Rick Bergman made and received the following answer:
"Our public roadmap has not changed."
So what is AMD planning here? A big paper launch to infuriate forums even more with customers eager to get a new high-end chip of the processor underdog? Standard PR tactics to make people go crazy over rumors similar to how Apple does it with their upcoming products? At this point we have no hard info to state "AMD delayed the much-awaited desktop version of Bulldozer." The thing is though, that there is plenty of indication, that at least some things are going wrong. Even though AMD representatives said that "Our public roadmap has not changed," the fact is that AMD's public roadmap has Bulldozer launch pegged for 2011. Then again, if the Bulldozer is really delayed, strong words from AMD executives to financial analysts may not be worth much then - after all, the CEO and SVP are saying the platform is on track.
At this point, to us this sounds more like "Sheesh there is nothing to see here, move along."