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Miscellaneous tidbits
AMD's presentation didn't dwell entirely on platforms—the company also revealed more details about future individual products. For instance, Rivas stated that we can expect 2.5GHz quad-core chips in the April-May time frame. On the graphics front, Bergman talked about the upcoming R680, which he confirmed will combine two graphics processors on a single graphics board and launch with a price tag in excess of $300.

AMD also has a pair of new mainstream graphics processors lined up for January: the RV620 and RV635, which will both feature DirectX 10.1 and PCI Express 2.0 support, Universal Video Decoder technology, and the ability to work in CrossFire X multi-GPU configurations. Driver support for CrossFire X three- and four-way GPU setups will become available some time in the first quarter of 2008, as well.

Manufacturing
There's been talk among analysts and the press of AMD selling its fabs and outsourcing all production, but there were no traces of such plans in today's presentation. Doug Grose, Senior VP of Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management, talked about AMD's manufacturing strategy, and he said the company is still pursuing its "asset smart" model—outsourcing graphics processor production to TSMC and UMC, outsourcing some microprocessor production to Chartered Semiconductor, and handling remaining microprocessor production with its own fabs.

AMD's plans for a "Fab 4x" in New York are still on, too, with Hector Ruiz himself stating, "We're looking forward to the day that we ship the greatest products in the processing arena out of New York." Ruiz also added, "We want to continue to have a world-class manufacturing operation." Still, Chartered is ready to produce quad-core chips in 2008 should AMD choose to have it do so.

Moving on, Grose spoke about AMD's plans for the transitions to 45nm and 32nm process technology. 45nm production is still scheduled to ramp in the first half of 2008, with product shipments due in the second half.

As for the 32nm process, Grose said it's being jointly developed with IBM and that it's an efficient, "gate first" high-k/metal gate process. AMD has already done test ramps of 32nm SRAMs, and according to AMD's process technology roadmap, production is set for the 2010 time frame.

Financials
AMD Executive VP and CFO Bob Rivet then came on stage to talk about AMD's financial plans. He also uttered the "glass half full" mantra and stated, "We have a lot of opportunities staring us in the face."

Those opportunities were neatly listed on one of the presentation slides, as was Grose's guidance for 2008 unit growth. Grose expects growth of 15% or more in microprocessor units, growth of more than 6% in graphics units, and growth of more than 10.5% overall in the consumer electronics space—numbers that should all equal or surpass the expected industry growth rate.

On to more nitty-gritty financial details, Grose said AMD is aiming for higher margins, lower research and development costs, lower marketing, general, and administrative costs, and a return to profitability in the third quarter. He also suggested the company would break even in Q2. In the meantime, AMD has something in the neighborhood of $2 billion in its piggy bank and an additional $600 million worth of assets it can monetize "at the appropriate time."

Conclusion
So where does that leave AMD in 2008? Based on what we heard today, we can expect disappointing financial results for the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2008. However, AMD is right about one thing: it has a fair amount of momentum, and if it manages to execute as planned, 2008 may very well turn out to be a good year.

On the microprocessor front, AMD should have 45nm tri- and quad-core chips ready in time to meet Intel's 45nm Nehalem processors. Even if it doesn't manage to keep up with Nehalem, AMD's plethora of platforms should help keep large PC vendors interested. AMD looks set to regain much-needed market share in the mobile graphics market, although how well the AMD graphics division will do on the desktop remains to be seen. The Radeon HD 3870 and Radeon HD 3850 are certainly encouraging efforts, though.

While it's probably still a little early to make any forecasts pertaining to 2009 and beyond, AMD's outlook and confidence suggest the company still has at least a few more rounds to go—even with naysayers predicting its imminent demise.TR

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