First of all I must say that I'm an AMD fan for at least 2 reasons: they provided during years processors that have a very good price/performance ratio and second they are not tied up with Rambus Inc.
AMD will not have an easy time in the next years. Even if they had an excellent start with the their Athlon series they will loose market share for P4 and not because P4 its better but because they don't have the Intel's image and because they will probably move too slow: they already announced that Athlon 1.5Ghz will be available in Q2 2001. P4 is available at this speed right now. OK! OK! I know P4 1.5 Ghz underperforms Athlon 1.2Ghz but this is more a question of image than of performance! Just learn from the last months: for the same amount of money you can buy a PIII-933 and an Athlon-1.2Ghz which is MUCH faster in every kind of real or artificial benchmark and in spite of this PIII sales where successful. I saw an article on Tom's site in which he complains about the "stupidity" of the average computer user. Well, I don't think they are stupid: they just don't care. For most people a computer is just a black box which runs his preferred text editor and maybe spreadsheet and that's all. Why should they bother learning about architectures and Mhz(s) and bus speed(s)? And frankly they have a point! For a "newbie" which is past 30-35 years of age this will require quite an effort because he will not understand anything without getting the "big picture". If he really wants to understand this he must loose several months on the Internet because the information is not exposed in a nice "newbie" format and even if it would be exposed like that it would take some time to grasp that information. SO? Well that several months can be spent on something else, which in that period of time will produce much more money that those several hundreds dollars lost in a family PC deal. This is why most PC users will never get any "smarter".
What does have it have with AMD and their not-so-bright future?
Simple: AMD is running out of time. Intel's image is still good enough to push ITANIUM on the first stage and that would mean sudden death for AMD! It is most unlikely that they will be able to clone ITANIUM because of the tech. involved and of course because of legal matters. Their only chance is to crush the image of P4 (they can do that only if they will keep Athlon at the same Mhz speed like P4) and to release Sledgehammer before its too late.
About P4: yes, I said the same Mhz speed, not performance, because again this is a question of image, not performance. Before you disagree with me take the following arguments into consideration:
If AMD will target only the market for very well informed people they will have a hard time. 30 years of Intel's success cannot be erased with only 1 year of AMD success. In this battle there is going to be only 1 BIG winner:
What is the customer's interest? To have competition. If AMD will win Intel will survive thanks to its HUGE resources. Good luck AMD!