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AMD's 2007 analyst day: Platforms and the glass half full

The skinny on AMD's 2007 analyst day presentation

Two phrases can sum up the message AMD related to analysts in its 2007 analyst day presentation today: "the glass is half full" and "business as usual." The company believes its current momentum can carry it to profitability next year, and it made almost no mention of the "asset light" business model some were expecting to be unveiled.

Starting off with the company's bread and butter—its microprocessor business—AMD President and COO Dirk Meyer opened the presentation with mention of the TLB erratum that's drawn so much attention lately, but he went on to say stumbles in AMD's quad-core roll-out have overshadowed the company's achievements. Meyer pointed out AMD's expanded business with Toshiba along with its strong notebook presence, completed transition to 65nm process technology, supply chain improvements, and increased average selling prices and margins.

The "glass is half full" mentality also manifested in Meyer's assertion that AMD doesn't need the fastest chips around to succeed. "Many people feel AMD needs to have the best-performing CPU component . . . That perception is false," he bluntly stated. Throughout the presentation, Meyer and other speakers (notably Computing Products Group Executive VP Mario Rivas) made a point to de-emphasize the microprocessor and instead draw attention to the graphics component, which they say is key to the overall "end-user experience." However, they were quick to follow up by promising that AMD doesn't plan to drop out of the "race for supremacy" in the microprocessor market.

Rivas also contrasted AMD's current position to that of four or five years ago, pointing to the firm's large number of design wins with major PC vendors and its newfound presence in the graphics, consumer electronics, and game console markets.

However, AMD isn't kidding itself: it needs to return to profitability, and quickly. To do so, Meyer said AMD intends to tap "all the major profit pools" in the industry and focus on the sweet spots in terms of volume and revenue in order to "deliver high-end performance to the mainstream." The company also intends to make strides in the small and medium business, notebook, commercial client, graphics, and consumer electronics markets.

Part of AMD's efforts appear in the form of a crowded list of new platforms planned for the next couple of years. Those platforms span the notebook, enterprise, mainstream, enthusiast, and server/workstation markets, and they mark a radical departure from AMD's tradition of providing an open ecosystem for companies like Nvidia and VIA to plug their graphics and core logic products into.