AMD will be launching its Trinity APUs early next month, marking the first follow-up to its Llano release from last year. While not a high-end part like Bulldozer, AMD is touting Trinity as being a great desktop product and perfect for the HTPC. Whether or not that actually proves to be the case, we’ll find out soon enough.
Things are a bit murky with this particular launch, however. While most vendors choose a single embargo date for the release of all information, AMD decided to allow previews of Trinity about a week in advance that can only discuss GPU performance and power efficiency. This ruffled Scott Wasson’s feathers over at The Tech Report, so he put his digital pen to paper to explain why.
“What AMD is doing, in quasi-clever fashion, is attempting to shape the content of reviews by dictating a two-stage plan for the release of information. In doing so, they grant themselves a measure of editorial control over any publication that agrees to the plan.“
In gist, AMD wants people to focus on IGP performance first, where it knows it has a good chance of excelling (and it does). On the surface, this might not seem like a big deal, but the fact of the matter is, people who read initial previews may consider it to be a review and base their purchasing decision on them alone. It can be assumed that AMD isn’t spacing out GPU and CPU performance because the CPU performance is so record-setting, after all. Scott refines this point by saying:
“And it’s likely to work, I can tell you from long experience, since the first article about a subject tends to capture the buzz and draw the largest audience. A second article a week later? No so much.“
I agree with this for the most part, although I have found in the past that even if your article is a bit “late”, it’ll still be read by those who want refinement. AMD is one of the worst vendors on the planet when it comes to last-minute embargoes. More often than not, reviewers have less than a week to tackle the product, and if your life just so happens to be busier than usual that week, you’re pretty much screwed. Don’t get me wrong, NVIDIA and AMD’s GPU team does the same thing, but it’s a lot easier to toss a GPU into a rig and benchmark it than it is something as multi-purpose as a CPU.
In the end, Scott condemns this sort of behavior, and hopes that his competitors don’t fall prey to the trap:
“It’s possible you may see desktop Trinity “previews” at other websites today that conform precisely to AMD’s dictates. I’m not sure. I hope most folks have decided to refrain from participation in this farce, but I really don’t know what will happen. I also hope that any who did participate will reconsider their positions after reading this post and thinking about what they’re giving up.“
I am personally undecided on the matter. To me, giving a preview, even one where the company prefers you focus on specific areas, is fine – as long as that fact is clearly disclosed. People need to know why the “preview” is lacking the information they’d expect to see, and why their final purchasing decision should be made after the follow-up. Even better would be a preview that doesn’t talk about performance at all, but AMD had other motives here and just hoped people wouldn’t point them out.
Why didn’t we publish a preview? For us, it was a matter of lacking RoI. On our end, it makes more sense to focus on other content while working on our final review for Trinity than it does to post a preview that leaves many questions unanswered. Things might have been a bit different if we were tackling a product that people are eagerly awaiting, but we haven’t gotten a whiff of that regarding Trinity. In the end, it just made no sense to us to post two articles for this particular product vs. just one that has all of the information available.
You can hit up Scott’s original post at the URL below, and check out his follow-up here.