Originally posted by: Athlonuser
When I look back...I think Intel was kicking back and letting AMD pull ahead back in the P4 days.
I don't think so. Intel's goal back then was to transition people from x86 to Itanium, where they could cut out the x86 legacy cruft, enable 64-bit operation, and probably the most importantly, be the unambiguous sole licensor of the ISA and force AMD, VIA, Transmeta, and National Semiconductor to make their own incompatible ISA and compete against Intel (which would likely result in Intel having all but a percent or two of the desktop market.)
Three things derailed those plans. One was the Itanium being delayed from an originally-anticipated 1998 launch to a 2000 launch, which meant that it fared poorly versus the 64-bit RISC processors in the big iron servers on introduction and failed to gain much of a foothold. The second was AMD launching the K8 with a 64-bit ISA that was backwards-compatible with the current x86 ISA. And the third was Intel running into thermal issues with the P4 line. Intel most likely originally intended for their desktop CPU progression to go PIII Katmai -> PIII Coppermine -> P4 Willamette -> P4 Northwood -> Itaium 2, but they ran into issues with their new 180 nm process with the Coppermine (delays in getting the chips made, then scaling issues) and that set them back a ways. Intel also goofed with the P4 Willamette's socket 423 and RDRAM as well, which set them back a bit and delayed Itanium development and Itanium uptake. They finally got things sorted out with the P4 Northwood but they originally intended to take it well above the 3.4 GHz the fastest Northwood shipped at.
AMD introducing the Opteron in 2003 with the x86_64 ISA in the face of Intel not being able to run up the clock speeds on Northwood-based Xeons (Prestonia/Gallatin) made the market much more receptive to using AMD's parts rather than avoiding them in favor of Intel's Itanium. The good uptake of the Opteron and the dead-end of the NetBurst clock speed ramp pretty much kiboshed the plans for Intel to establish the Itanium IA64 as the next de facto standard ISA. Intel also made a tremendous flop with the P4 Prescott and their "next big thing" of the third-generation NetBurst Tejas and Jawhawk CPUs having an even worse thermal envelope than Prescott made Intel stumble and scramble to come up with a new ISA. Fortunately they had the Israelis working on modified PIIIs (Pentium M, Core Solo/Duo) to pull their fat out of the fire on that one and provide them with the bones of their current Core 2 processors.
I don't think AMD is going to have a chip that takes names and/or pwns anytime soon.
I wouldn't say that. AMD's current processors are reasonably competitive with the Core 2s at similar clock speeds- it's just the fact that Intel executed 45 nm well and gotten ahead in the process node department that let them ramp up clock speeds well above what AMD could manage with 65 nm. The QX6700 isn't that much faster than the Phenom X4 9950BE and it has a pretty similar TDP. Intel did get to 3.00 GHz on 65 nm with quads and AMD could have sold ~3 GHz Phenom X4 Agenas if they could have commanded >$1000 for them like Intel did with the QX6800 since both are very high-binned chips.
I wouldn't count AMD out anytime soon. Supposedly the 45 nm transition has been going well for them and the Agenas are fundamentally sound in their design- they could just use some more cache and clock speed and a little bit more friendly thermals. The Deneb is exactly that- three times the L3 cache size and up to 400 MHz more clock speed and with a lower TDP.