Silicon Wars: Chapter IV, A New Chip

By Phil Trent

Date: August 7, 2001


The Cast...

The Emperor:  Andy Grove

Darth Vader:  Craig Barrett

Obe Wan Kinobe:  Jerry Sanders

Luke:  Hector Ruiz


Scene I 


Just before the release of the PIV, the mighty empire had been humbled, as AMD was the first to get to 1 Gigahertz, while the empire fired salvos of paper launches as a media and consumer ruse.  The PIII 1.13 Gigahertz had just been recalled.  The Empire was beginning to shake; the Emperor was not pleased.

Vader walks into The Emperor’s office.  The Emperor has a worried look as he overlooks the PIV design. He slowly turns to face his apprentice, Dr. Darth Vader. He raises his eyebrows to Vader, silently asking Vader to explain the impromptu intrusion on the solitude of the moment.


Darth: “I sense a disturbance in our market cap.”

Emperor: “Yes, Vader, I sensed it too, even before this watered-down design; it is that little rebel force, AMD.  They have been raiding our ASPs for some time now. The PIII cannot clock any higher. Are you sure you want to proceed with this crippled design?

Darth: “I know the PIV was rushed, but we didn’t have any choice.  It was that or watch as the world laugh at us while we fall behind in clock speed.”

Emperor: “Won’t they laugh at us anyway? It is slower than a PIII at the same clockspeed. I don’t relish using an Itanium stop-gap CPU as the vanguard to our silicon fleet.”

Darth: “Emperor, you underestimate the power of marketing…..”

Emperor cutting Darth off, “Yes, yes, but isn’t there the danger of….”

Darth, interrupting The Emperor: “I have a plan to trap them: We will commoditize our PIII to depress their Athlon prices, while we use the PIV to subsidize these losses.”

Emperor: ”Didn’t we try that before with the Celeron?”

Vader: “Yes, well, ahem, you and I knew that the Celeron was inferior to the Athlon, but our PR and marketing departments both thought they could do it anyway.  It would have worked too, if not for those pesky hardware review sites. Young kids and even some teenagers with a 56k connection are going up against the billions we spend on marketing – and they are winning.”

Emperor: “What about all the money we pay those big computer sites?”

Vader: “You mean ZD & Co.? They lost credibility a long time ago.  There is a delicate balance between advertisers and reviewers, which ZD could never understand.  There is a tendency to be kinder to big advertisers, but to openly do so is selling the journalistic reputation for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. We paid them to be good to us, but they were a little too good - most serious hardware fanatics left them.”

Emperor: “What about ZD’s Trojan horse, this so-called ‘Tech Extreme’? Will they be more careful?”

Darth, turning toward the PIV design, “Let’s hope so….let’s hope so.”

Cue music, fade to black.