AMD close to falling on the auction block, says analyst

— 2:24 PM on February 14, 2008

Last month, we reported that the rumor mill was rife with talk of a potential merger or extended partnership between IBM and AMD. Today, eWeek quotes a research note by Technology Business Research analyst Doug Freedman that says AMD could soon end up on the auction block for a potential buyout by another company.

According to Freedman, whether AMD goes up for sale or not could depend on how well the company's upcoming "Puma" mobile platform does in the marketplace. Puma is scheduled to hit laptops next quarter, and it will bring a new Turion Ultra mobile processor, an RS780M chipset with hybrid graphics capability, and an M8x graphics processor. Freedman believes any delay or problems with Puma "could cause a management shakeup and even the sale of the company."

If a sale happens, IBM could certainly be a potential buyer—even though both itself and AMD have denied the possibility—but Freedman says Nvidia could also be interested:

"We do not believe [Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang] would even consider leaving Nvidia to go to AMD (he told us so)," Freedman wrote in the research note.

"However, we do not believe he would walk away from the challenge of buying AMD on the cheap and turning the company around. In addition, we note that the Intel/AMD road map of integration of the CPU/GPU could pose a risk to Nvidia, and buying AMD propels Nvidia into a formidable competitor for Intel with the upside coming from Huang's ability to re-architect AMD's design."

Judging by figures on Google Finance, Nvidia's current market value is $12.73 billion, while AMD's is just $3.63 billion. A buyout by Nvidia may not be outside the realm of possibility, and it could solve Nvidia's current problem of having no answer to the integrated CPU and GPU solutions coming soon from both Intel and AMD. Such a deal would leave only one serious contender in the discrete graphics market. Of course, since Intel is also planning a discrete GPU, the market could quickly become a two-player arena once again.

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