R&D investment is the growth engine of technology companies, and by that measure, AMD's quarterly spending might not paint a pretty picture. EXPreview has aggregated quarterly R&D investment data for AMD and Nvidia into a new report. According to the site's research, AMD's quarterly R&D spending has declined since 2012, and it's currently near 2004 levels.
The report shows how Nvidia and AMD have traded places in quarterly R&D spending over the past couple of years. Nvidia's spending trailed AMD's by over $100 million at the beginning of 2011, after which Nvidia opened its wallet wider. AMD's R&D spending remained flat through 2011 and began to decline in 2012. These days, Nvidia outspends AMD on R&D by margins similar to AMD's lead during 2011: $348 million per quarter for Nvidia, as opposed to $238 million for AMD. Nvidia spends a greater percentage of its revenue on R&D, too: 31%, as opposed to AMD's 20%, according to EXPreview.
AMD's higher spending in years past continues to pay dividends today. The company's GCN GPU architecture came to market in 2011, and its low-overhead Mantle API essentially laid the course for the next generation of graphics APIs like Vulkan and DirectX 12.
AMD is still working on its next-generation Zen x86 CPU microarchitecture, the fruits of which we may see as soon as next year.
Of course, the elephant in the room is Intel, whose current quarterly R&D budget is nearly $3 billion. Since Intel is both a semiconductor design and manufacturing firm, its R&D budget encompasses the development of new chip fabrication processes, which are hugely expensive achievements. Neither Nvidia nor AMD owns its own chip fabs, which might help to explain some of the disparity in R&D spending.