It's been a long while now since Dell adopted a decent range of AMD processors in its systems, but it looks like that relationship could be close to ending. A quick look over on the US Dell site shows that as of now the only way to get an AMD-based Dell system is in one of its retail locations, hardly Dell's preferred distribution channel though it has been moving into that area of late.
The move is actually less surprising than many may think, as Intel's Core 2 range of processors manages to beat AMD on price versus performance in just about every area of the market, from the low end to the high. While there's a lot to be said for offering customers the choice, there's also a contrary argument for not wasting warehouse space on systems that nobody really wants to buy.
Obviously it's a bit too soon to tell yet what Dell is planning in the long run. For all we know it could just be a cunning ploy to get some bulk-purchase incentives from AMD, in which case if AMD systems pop up again in a few weeks the message should be pretty clear. Another option is that Intel has ignored the countless anti-trust investigations launched against it and paid Dell lots of cash to go exclusive again - I highly doubt this but someone will no doubt make a fuss if I don't suggest it as a possibility.
Quite how this is going to play out escapes me at the moment; on the one hand, I'd like to see Dell offering systems with competing company's processors because consumer choice is always important. On the other hand, though, the small minority of people who just don't want an Intel processor probably don't warrant Dell changing its sales policy to accommodate them. You'll have to decide for yourself whether this is a temporary state of affairs or a sign of things to come - personally I can't decide.
We've received some official word from Dell which I've added below:
"To ensure we deliver the best value to our customers, Dell regularly adjusts its product offerings, and how customers can purchase those products. Currently the majority of our consumer AMD-based systems are available through our retail partners such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Staples, and through telephone sales. Dell also sells a range of AMD-powered business notebooks, desktops and servers online. Certain product ranges or models may only be available through specific channels such as retail or phone. We are committed to the AMD product lines as a long-term partner to provide the maximum choice for our customers/i>".