A closer look at the new AMD

AMD has faced quite a bit of upheaval in recent months, with the ouster of former CEO Dirk Meyer and the eventual hiring of his replacement, Rory Read. Much of the firm’s executive leadership team has turned over, among them high-profile losses like former ATI exec Rick Bergman’s departure to Synaptics. Meanwhile, the firm launched its long-delayed Bulldozer microprocessor, almost universally considered a disappointment, and then fired 10% of its workforce.

The recent turmoil at AMD has taken place against the backdrop of longer-term problems. AMD has long been the junior partner in a duopoly of PC-compatible CPU makers, with industry behemoth Intel taking the lead role and the lion’s share of the market. The smaller firm has been a scrappy competitor at times, but an embarrassing string of delays and problems with key products, like Barcelona and Bulldozer, has sullied its record in the past five years. During that same time frame, Intel has established and executed quite well on its “tick-tock” cadence of new CPU architectures and process technology shrinks. The result has been an erosion of AMD’s competitiveness and market share, with a predictable effect on the company’s balance sheet.

In short, AMD faces some daunting challenges that Read and his hand-picked executive team will have to confront. For months now, whenever we’ve asked for specifics on the firm’s new direction, we’ve been told to wait for AMD’s Analyst Day event. That day finally came last Thursday, and we got a sense of how this new regime plans to steer AMD through some rough waters and, one hopes, into a better competitive position.

The day started with a speech from Read that was part vision statement and part pep talk. Read’s demeanor seems earnest and youthful, although he tends to speak in a particular variety of corporate lingo that seems oddly indirect and can be somewhat difficult to parse quickly. That tendency may simply be a result of the strange task CEOs are sometimes given: to paint a picture in broad brush strokes without revealing too many specifics. Much of the day’s talk was simply the new management team sharing its assessment of AMD’s current challenges and opportunities with the outside world. What specifics there were to share, Read left to the other members of his executive team. Still, after consideration, we think he had some interesting things to say.

Before going on to address big-picture questions and possible new directions for his firm, Read made sure to underscore one central point: execution is key. Many of AMD’s problems in the past few years stem from an inability to deliver on its product plans, not from having the wrong plans in place. Read is keenly aware of that fact, and he said he has been working on getting AMD “into fighting shape.”

Read then launched into a bit of an overview of the market and AMD’s place in it. He described the current state of x86 processors as an “unhealthy duopoly” and hinted at how he intends to extract AMD from the situation. Rather than trying to capture the most complex technology possible, he said, AMD needs to “skate to the puck”—in other words, to focus on where the market is going and attempt to provide products to meet those needs. As an example, Read pointed to AMD’s success with the low-power Brazos platform for netbooks and cheap ultraportable laptops. Among Brazos’ virtues is that it’s easy to manufacture and “customers love them.” The unspoken subtext: Intel didn’t really contend for that portion of the market, failing to give Atom the graphics and video decoding horsepower it needed, probably because it wanted to protect its business in higher-margin laptop chips. AMD was able to capitalize by offering a better user experience, without pushing on bleeding-edge process technology and without attempting to squeeze out every possible ounce of performance. This sort of savvy product targeting—almost asymmetrical warfare, if you will—appears to be a big part of the new executive team’s focus.

Looking forward, Read alluded to a gathering storm: the conflict between a “large incumbent” and “emerging players” in the computing industry—that is between Intel’s PC businesses and the new order of “ubiquitous devices” largely powered by ARM-based systems-on-a-chip, or SoCs. He likened the coming transition to the conversion from mainframes to client/server computing in the 1980s, when “proprietary control points” eroded and prices plummeted. The implication: that Intel’s processor business could face a similar fate in a future where the x86 instruction set becomes much less important and established computer price points begin dissolving.

One might expect such a transition to be devastating to AMD, as the second-source supplier of x86-compatible PC processors, but Read portrayed it as an opportunity for his firm, instead. After all, AMD has over 7,000 engineers and quite a bit of competence in building computing platforms. In this context, Read would like to shift AMD’s focus toward pursuing business in places where the competition isn’t so suffocating and where the potential for growth is greater—from AMD’s current emphasis on mature markets, PCs, servers, and discrete graphics to a new focus on emerging markets, mobile clients, cloud servers, and embedded systems.

If such talk sounds like capitulation in AMD’s decades-long struggle against Intel, well, we suppose to some degree it is. Without pushing on process technology or trying to eke out the last few percentage points of instruction throughput, AMD won’t be contending against Intel for the high-end desktop or server CPU crowns. Then again, AMD hasn’t really been competitive on process technology or high-end CPU performance for quite some time, and it hasn’t consistently made money, either. By making the usual reality into official policy, Read may be able to defuse a perpetually difficult competitive situation and free up resources to pursue more profitable directions.

At the same time, we don’t expect AMD to “pull an HP” and abandon its core business. In the short term, through the end of 2013, Read’s focus is largely to deliver the products already on the roadmap. Many of those are too far along for the new team to make major changes to them, and they address established businesses. Longer term, we expect AMD to continue producing server CPUs and client-focused APUs while dipping its toes into “adjacent” markets—like embedded systems, smart TVs, and game consoles—using the same chips or tweaked variants of them.

Along the way, Read plans to employ several key tools, including a new “SoC-style” approach to chip creation intended to make AMD more agile, a more modest short-term roadmap that presumably frees up resources for other projects, and a programming standard called Heterogeneous System Architecture that should allow developers to exploit the mix of CPU and GPU power in AMD’s APU products. Read left it to his colleagues, CTO Mark Papermaster and Dr. Lisa Su, Sr. VP and GM of AMD’s Global Business Units, to explain the details.

A revised roadmap

Dr. Lisa Su provided an update on AMD’s public product roadmap, which now extends into 2013. Dr. Su opened by asserting that future AMD products will “align” to market trends and consumer needs. She described computing power as “practically free now” and said AMD wants to bring computing to lower power and cost points. With that said, Dr. Su also emphasized AMD’s commitment to several parts of its traditional core business, including APUs, servers, and “technology leadership” in graphics.

In fact, Su described graphics as one of AMD’s “crown jewels” that ends up being the “centerpiece of our roadmap.” Fittingly, then, graphics appears at the very top of the firm’s roadmap for the next couple of years, headlined by the “Southern Islands” chips that have already begun arriving in the form of the Radeon HD 7000 series. Cards based on the “Tahiti” GPU are already here, and the mid-range “Pitcairn” and low-end “Cape Verde” are expected before the end of this quarter.

Slated for 2013 is a new family of GPUs code-named “Sea Islands.” Like their predecessors, the Sea Islands chips will be manufactured on a 28-nm fabrication process, so most of the improvements to them will have to come from the revised GPU architecture and the compute-focused “HSA features.” Beyond that, we don’t know too terribly much about Sea Islands yet.

We’ve seen demos of it at multiple trade shows over the course of many months, and the second-generation “Trinity” APU, the replacement for Llano, continues to edge toward release. Also a 32-nm chip, Trinity will benefit mainly from newer internal components. The CPU portion of the chip will be comprised of a pair of dual-core “modules” based on the Bulldozer microarchitecture. In fact, the CPU cores in Trinity have been massaged to improve instruction throughput and assigned a new code-name: Piledriver. Trinity will be the first demonstration of the potential for tweaking this troubled new microarchitecture to better live up to expectations. Meanwhile, Trinity’s graphics core will be derived from the Northern Islands generation of products—i.e., Cayman and friends, also known as the Radeon HD 6000 series. Interestingly, Trinity’s video block will be borrowed from Southern Islands, so it will presumably include an H.264 encoding engine.

Altogether, AMD thinks Trinity will deliver a nice performance boost over Llano, and it intends to turn those gains into power savings. The firm expects one variant of Trinity to offer performance equivalent to a 35W Llano processor, but in a 17W power envelope. Those 17W parts will be targeted at the same sort of systems that will house Intel’s 17W Ivy Bridge processors: ultra-thin laptops, also known as ultrabooks.

Dr. Su offered some positive early indications for Trinity. She said design wins are “tracking ahead of Llano,” and that chips are already shipping to PC makers, with products due by the middle of the year. She even pulled out an example of a Trinity-based ultra-thin laptop, a reference design from Compal, to illustrate the potential there. Frankly, at a fairly uniform 18 mm thick across most of its chassis, that system looked a little bit chunky for an ultrabook. Still, we can imagine tolerating a little more bulk if Trinity’s Radeon integrated graphics can enable a decent gaming experience in such a system.

The low-power portion of the APU roadmap has seen some changes. Gone are the Brazos follow-ons “Krishna” and “Wichita,” originally slated for 2012. Those chips were expected to have up to four enhanced “Bobcat” cores and to be fabricated on a 28-nm process. In their place now is a minor revision of the current product, dubbed “Brazos 2.0.” Still a 40-nm chip, Brazos 2.0 adds support for USB 3.0 and for AMD’s Turbo Core dynamic clock frequency scaling.

Also coming in 2012 is an important new member of the family: “Hondo,” an ultra-low power Brazos-derived part that will be aimed at Windows 8 tablets. Extending the Brazos platform into ULP territory, with TDPs half that of current parts, may prove difficult, but Dr. Su expressed confidence that we will see Win8 tablets with AMD silicon. More importantly, this attempt will be the first of many from AMD to contend in this space. In fact, Su explicitly described an aspiration to take x86 processors into power envelopes below 2W, which she said is “absolutely” feasible, although such a product isn’t on the near-term roadmap for 2012 or 2013.

Not mentioned in Dr. Su’s speech and only buried in the pre-briefing slide you see above is one other new chip for 2012: “Vishera,” a conventional desktop processor for Socket AM3+ motherboards. Yes, AMD still has plans on this front, in part because high-end desktops share silicon with the server product lineup. Vishera will be a 32-nm part with up to eight Piledriver cores and no integrated graphics. If the tweaks to those cores prove to be effective, Vishera could restore at least some of AMD’s competitiveness on the desktop.

2013 looks to be a very busy year for AMD, full of transitions to revamped CPU cores and new process technology. The “Kaveri” APU is scheduled to supplant Trinity, with up to four x86 processor cores based on “Steamroller,” the continued evolution of the Bulldozer microarchitecture, and graphics based on the GCN architecture inside the Radeon HD 7000 series. Kaveri will include some special sauce for the APU-focused HSA programming model, and it will be one of several 2012 APUs fabricated at a 28-nm process node. For what it’s worth, Dr. Su pegged Kaveri as the first APU with aggregate compute power in excess of a teraflop.

In the low-power domain, “Kabini” looks like the true spiritual successor to Krishna, a 28-nm APU with up to four enhanced “Jaguar” CPU cores and GCN-derived graphics. Kabini will also integrate south bridge I/O components, making it what Su called AMD’s “first real SoC.” Its sibling, “Tamesh,” will inhabit the ULP domain, with only two CPU cores.

Notably, the roadmap shows no planned successor to “Vishera,” the eight-core discrete desktop CPU. That probably means AMD’s Socket AM3+ offerings will have to survive the duration of 2013 with the same silicon available at the end of 2012. The fate of AMD’s products in this segment will most likely be determined by whatever AMD decides to do on the server front.

Speaking of which, here’s a look at AMD’s revised server plans. Notice that the 10-core “Sepang” processor and “Terramar,” its dual-chip derivative, have been canceled and replaced with the 8-core “Seoul” and its dual-chip variant, “Abu Dhabi.” Also notable by its absence is any mention of a transition to a new socket infrastructure. That means AMD’s next round of server chips should slide into the same C32 and G34 sockets we’ve known for several years now.

Keeping these products at “only” 8/16 cores probably makes sense in the context of the current sockets’ bandwidth limitations. Our larger concern is how AMD will remain competitive in the face of Intel’s soon-to-be-released Sandy Bridge-EP processors. The desktop version of that chip is already incredibly formidable, and desktop workloads offer much less opportunity to flex the massive amounts of I/O bandwidth—40 lanes of PCI Express Gen3—connected to each socket of a Sandy Bridge-EP system. We can’t talk about all of the details yet, but Intel appears to have captured some very nice power and performance benefits from the integration of high-speed I/O onto the processor die. AMD can’t follow suit until it transitions to a new socket, and that evidently won’t be happening before the end of 2013.

AMD still anticipates a future for its high-performance x86 CPU cores well beyond 2013, though, as illustrated by this slide showing, vaguely, how Opteron cores will evolve over time. Once we get to 2014 and beyond, we expect the direction set by the new executive team to begin taking hold in earnest. As that happens, AMD’s server chip portfolio may expand to include some non-traditional products targeted at specific workloads. For a better sense of how AMD’s roadmap might look into 2014 and beyond, we should look at what the company means when it says it’s moving toward an SoC-style design methodology.

The meaning of an “SoC-style” approach

Our understanding of AMD’s newly adopted approach to creating products came into sharper focus when we had the chance to participate in a “fireside chat” with CTO Mark Papermaster and a small group of journalists last Friday.

Papermaster opened by explaining his role at AMD; he is wearing two hats, acting as the Chief Technology Officer who sets the firm’s long-term technology direction and also running the development team. He told us he’s taken on both roles since it’s so important for AMD to execute well on its plans. Throughout the conversation, although he was willing to talk pretty freely about technology and ideas, Papermaster kept returning to the theme of solid execution as his top priority.

Hand in hand with the talk of consistent execution, Papermaster sounded several themes to describe AMD’s goals, including agility, flexibility, and architectures that are “ambidextrous.” At the heart of it all is a different approach to building chips, one that is borrowed from the world of low-power and embedded system-on-a-chip (SoC) products that are becoming nearly ubiquitous in smartphones, tablets, consumer routers, embedded systems, and a whole host of other devices.

SoCs are often assembled from blocks of custom logic—referred to as IP or intellectual property—whose basic design is licensed from a third-party provider. Think of a smartphone chip that incorporates CPU cores from ARM, graphics from Imagination Tech, baseband communications tech from another provider, and so on. Many different chip companies combine these basic IP building blocks into various configurations tailored for certain requirements. The IP blocks can be mixed and matched with relative ease because they all share a common, industry-standard communications interconnect.

We’ve seen aspects of the IP-based SoC approach in one part of the PC market over time: core-logic chipsets, where specific I/O blocks are often licensed from third parties and incorporated into support chips. Generally speaking, though, PC processors have been proprietary affairs. AMD’s Llano, for instance, combines Phenom-class x86 CPU cores with Radeon graphics, an in-house north bridge, and AMD’s own memory controller. Sandy Bridge is built largely from Intel’s proprietary tech, as well. PC chip designs have become increasingly modular in recent years, but that modularity is relatively limited. Papermaster explained that AMD’s current chips are not built from IP blocks that have been expressly tailored for re-use.

Going forward, Papermaster envisions a common interconnect that AMD can deploy across its entire lineup. This interconnect will be high-speed, low-power, and capable of sustaining memory coherency across multiple logic blocks. The interconnect will act as glue for AMD’s various types of IP, whether it’s graphics, CPU cores, video encoders, or what have you. The idea is to allow the firm to mix and match its assets, easing the creation of chips based on its core technologies.

Although this interconnect will necessarily have to be proprietary in order to feed AMD’s high-performance CPU and GPU cores, Papermaster said it will have a bridge to the AMBA interconnect created by ARM and used by other SoC providers. That fact opens up all sorts of intriguing possibilities, including the incorporation of third-party IP into AMD silicon, either as a means of adding new features or, more likely, as part of an effort to build a chip tailored for a specific customer.

Now, he told us AMD is “investing very heavily in emulation technology” in order to perform validation on the various IP blocks it has in development. The idea is to move bug discovery earlier in the process, before the whole chip comes together.

Even with some modularity in its current chips, the move to an SoC-style approach appears to involve a fairly noteworthy change in the company’s operations. Papermaster told us he has restructured his organization to fit this strategy. In a separate conversation, Graphics CTO Eric Demers also asserted that the change requires a true shift in mentality compared to AMD’s prior methods. As an example, Papermaster said AMD’s product validation efforts have, in the past, largely focused on testing an entire chip. Now, he told us AMD is “investing very heavily in emulation technology” in order to perform validation on the various IP blocks it has in development. The idea is to move bug discovery earlier in the process, before the whole chip comes together.

First and foremost, the new executive team expects this modified method of building chips to make it easier for AMD to deliver on its product roadmap commitments. Beyond that, it may also enable new combinations of AMD IP and open up new business opportunities.

That’s especially true for AMD’s server products, where “workload-optimized” processors are a big part of its future plans. Rather than competing directly with Intel’s formidable Xeon processors in every case, AMD hopes to win business by building more varied processors targeted at specific types of workloads. With two x86 CPU core development tracks—high-performance and low power—and its increasingly compute-capable GPUs, one can envision many possible combinations. One possibility is a future server chip with a modest contingent of Opteron x86 cores for integer math and a boatload of FLOPS supplied by a host of GPU compute units. Another option Papermaster mentioned specifically is an ultra-dense server processor comprised of a large number low-power Brazos cores. Either of those processors might be better suited to a specific application than a stock Opteron or Xeon. This sort of targeting looks like it could make quite a bit of sense given the way server-class workloads have diverged in recent years. Segments like HPC hinge almost entirely on FLOPS and memory bandwidth while others, like cloud providers, require energy efficiency and scalable performance with lots of integer-focused threads.

When pushed for specific, non-theoretical examples of how AMD might incorporate third-party IP into future chips, Papermaster offered one scenario related to a “smart TV” product. Such products need some compute power, good display technology, and video codec hardware. They also have the very attractive property of being high-volume parts, so they could offer the economies of scale needed to make a chip business workable. The relationship between AMD and a customer, say a big consumer electronics firm, might start with AMD supplying a discrete GPU that the customer would pair with its own applications processor. Later, these components might be integrated into a single chip, provided by AMD, where Radeon graphics and video processor tech share die space with third-party IP.

AMD is now open to the possibility of such integration, where in the past, it probably wouldn’t have been (although it does have some history of making custom GPUs for game consoles.) Papermaster was careful to explain that such relationships are likely to be few—he said there won’t be “hundreds of customers,” not even “dozens.” But AMD appears to be working toward some new types of relationships with select customers, made possible by a newfound willingness to combine its own technologies with those invented elsewhere.

Yes, such a relationship could mean that an ARM CPU core could be combined on the same silicon with, say, Radeon graphics. AMD clearly opened the door to that possibility and talked openly about “ISA flexibility” as part of its new strategy. Still, the firm’s public roadmap mentions only x86-compatible processors for the time being, and we don’t know of any specific plans for AMD to produce an ARM-based SoC to compete with the likes of Nvidia’s Tegra lineup. All we really know is that AMD’s new leadership is expressing an openness to new types of products and business relationships. We don’t have many specifics so far, and we’re unsure how many of the ideas being kicked around will turn into products. If they do, they’ll most likely become visible once AMD exposes a public roadmap for 2014 and beyond.

On the question of high-performance CPUs

All of the talk about not pushing “the bleeding edge” on process tech and not trying to eke out the last few bits of performance—along with the lack of emphasis on traditional high-end desktop and server CPUs—left us wondering about AMD’s intentions for its x86 processors. It’s one thing to deemphasize an area where competing is difficult and quite another to quit contending there. Several of us asked questions related to this topic in an attempt to gauge AMD’s commitment to pushing forward on x86 performance.

The Bulldozer microarchitecture, obviously, has some performance issues. Worryingly, AMD’s message at the time of the FX processor’s introduction was that future Bulldozer-based processors would see 10-15% performance gains each year, starting with Piledriver. Given where Bulldozer has started, that plan now looks like a recipe for failure, in light of Intel’s recent trajectory. Encouragingly, when asked about Bulldozer’s prospects, Papermaster pulled out the 10-15% estimate without being prompted and disputed it: “We need more than that. We’ll get more.” Also, although the 2012-2013 products are “in delivery mode,” he hinted at the possibility of a new socket in the next generation of server CPUs.

One of Bulldozer’s big weaknesses right now is its performance in individual threads. The CPU does relatively well on some broadly multithreaded workloads, but its IPC (and thus performance) in each thread is often relatively poor. David Kanter attempted to tease out the new CTO’s thoughts on single-threaded performance by asking what sort of gap with Intel is acceptable. 15%? 30%? More? Papermaster wasn’t willing to give us a number, but to our relief, he didn’t attempt to argue that single-threaded performance is unimportant, like some of AMD’s marketing folks have been doing. Instead, he said he refused to give a number because he “didn’t want to cede anything” to his development team. In other words, it looks like AMD will continue to push ahead on this front, even with the change in business strategies.

In the wake of the FX processors’ release, some folks began speculating about whether AMD had abandoned its traditional use of custom logic design for broader use of logic synthesis. The speculation was fueled by Bulldozer’s apparent inefficiencies and especially by the massively inflated Bulldozer transistor count AMD supplied to the press. This question is also something of a hot topic because, to one degree or another, most semiconductor companies are employing logic synthesis more extensively over time. When asked for his take, Papermaster acknowledged that AMD’s x86 CPU cores (outside of Brazos) have been “highly customized up to this point” and said that, historically, there has been a “huge gap” between custom and synthesized logic. However, he asserted that the gap has “come down significantly” and that a new emphasis on synthesis will begin affecting AMD’s roadmap in 2014.

HSA

One final tool that AMD will use to maximize its potential as a supplier of both CPUs and GPUs—and of products with both elements on a single chip—is something it calls the Heterogeneous System Architecture, or HSA. HSA has replaced “Fusion” in AMD’s lexicon, but happily, it’s a much more specific thing, with real technology behind it and a vision for realizing the potential of APUs.

Fundamentally, HSA is a software development target platform intended to allow applications to take advantage of both CPU and GPU computing resources on “converged” chips like AMD’s APUs. HSA has several components, including a virtual ISA, a memory model, and a system specification. The ISA, known as HSAIL, is conceptually similar to the PTX ISA in Nvidia’s CUDA, which provides a stable, fairly low-level programming target that still allows major changes in GPU architectures over time. HSAIL instructions will be translated into true machine code by a just-in-time compiler provided by the hardware vendor. Unlike CUDA, though, the HSA memory model and system specification will take into account the capabilities of APUs and other SoCs whose CPUs and GPUs can share the same memory.

HSA differs from familiar names like OpenCL and C++ AMP because it is a lower-level platform, even a possible compile target for apps written in OpenCL. As we understand it, HSA’s goal is to make a common virtual machine with easy access to all available computing resources. AMD expects it to be programmed just like current SMP systems, with “seamless” access to CPU and GPU execution resources using the same basic syntax. The abstraction layer should handle the details of what gets processed where, bringing CPU and GPU computing resources to bear on the data as appropriate.

Crucially, HSA will be ISA agnostic not just for the GPU, but for the CPU, as well—so an application written for HSA could run just as well on an x86/Radeon combination like Trinity as on, say, an ARM/Imagination Tech combination in a tablet.

AMD hopes to turn HSA into an open, industry-wide standard. To that end, the company has established a foundation much like the ones that govern other standards, and it has invited other hardware, software, and OS developers to join. So far, the firm says it’s hearing good things from its customers, but we’re not aware of any companies that have joined yet. Assessing the prospects for such an effort is notoriously difficult, but if it somehow takes off, HSA could become an incredibly important standard, perhaps the first to allow CPU-GPU convergence to begin realizing its potential in consumer applications—while undermining a host of competing standards, everything from CUDA to x86. If not, well, as HSA point man Manju Hegde explained to us, it could still be a useful tool for enabling development on AMD platforms.

AMD has published a roadmap for HSA, which is interesting because it suggests what capabilities will make it into future APU generations. The addition in 2012 of “bi-directional power management between CPU and GPU,” for instance, should be a Trinity feature. Looks like AMD will be progressively exposing features as it incorporates them into its APU hardware over time. Also, notice that HSA won’t be extended to support discrete GPUs until 2014. Initially, this effort is very much about taking advantage of APUs and the ease of programming made possible by shared memory in APUs and other SoCs.

Comments closed
    • ghjtdge
    • 8 years ago
    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    CTO of AMD’s graphics division just left.

    I have little faith in the future of this company with so many execs bailing at once.

    • safghtjrtj
    • 8 years ago
    • cybot_x1024
    • 8 years ago

    I have this feeling that AMD might very easily end up like Matrox, the phantom graphics card making company. And if that would happen the enthusiast segment would degenerate into a sad console-like world where $ is what determines how much of an enthusiast you are, not what you actually do with your hardware. Things like overclocking, volt, hard and soft modding will soon fade away when the monopoly officially takes over

    • Antimatter
    • 8 years ago

    Is Kaveri (Trinity replacement) based on 28nm SOI or bulk?

      • Joel H.
      • 8 years ago

      No one knows. AMD has revealed nothing about where its building its 28nm chips.

    • bwcbiz
    • 8 years ago

    All this great info from AMD, and I keep focusing on Dr. Su’s spike heels.

    I guess financial analysts respond to the same stimuli as tech geeks.

    • ultima_trev
    • 8 years ago

    I guess AMD is flipping the bird to PC enthusiasts. So after the Bulldozer generation, there will be no more mid/upper range x86 processors from AMD? We, as PC gamers, will have choice… However, without a viable x86 contender, we’ll have the choice of the underwhelming $1,000 Celeron, the overpriced $3,500 i7 Extreme and all the SKUs in between.

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      Not really. I think maybe several folks are reading this wrong. Some points:

      1) An eight-core Piledriver is coming later this year. It will serve this year and next, presumably with faster clock speeds coming out over time.

      2) What happens with AMD’s high-end desktop CPUs in 2014 and beyond will depend on what happens with its server CPUs. There’s nothing on the roadmap here, but….

      a) The hint is that we’ll see a new socket, presumably with integrated PCIe.

      b) AMD’s CTO wants to continue pushing on performance, above and beyond the 10-15% per year increase previously predicted, and…

      c) He wants to see single-threaded performance increase over time, as well as multi, and isn’t willing to concede that any size gap vs. Intel is acceptable.

      Now, no question AMD has deemphasized the push for outright performance supremacy–and has deemphasized the high-end desktop, where it has little chance to win outright. Still, I didn’t get the impression they were planning to give up. They just don’t expect to make their money by taking market share from Intel in the very hardest places to do so…. which isn’t much of a change from the past five years, in reality. Stating that fact plainly at this point is more about sanity and facing facts than it is about outright giving up, I think.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Trying to diversify their product lines is fine by me, but I hope AMD doesn’t become something like NatSemi, STMicro or TI. I mean, those guys are important, for sure, and they perhaps do make money, but there’s nothing really exciting about those guys. I don’t know about you guys but those chip companies I just mentioned all seem.. devoid of personality or excitement.

    I wish AMD still tries to at least provide even just 50% – 70% of what x86 tech Intel comes up with. I know that they’ve been doing this for a few years now and it ain’t pretty, but at least folks like us have an alternative choice.

    • tootercomputer
    • 8 years ago

    Prior to the core2duo chip, amd chips were more than competive, they often surpasses Intel chips in both performance and value. There was genuine competijtion in the world od the cpu. we need that, it made for better chips all ariund. I hope amd stays in the hunt and can come back.

    • tootercomputer
    • 8 years ago

    Oops. Double post.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    TL;RA

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    Boy I bet they wish they hadn’t sold off the handheld chipset stuff a few years back. They could probably have a better GPU than nVidia in the ARM segment already if they’d kept the Imageon (now known as Adreno) line. It could have been them instead of Qualcomm competing with nVidia, TI, Samsung, and Apple in the ARM arena.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Well, like everything else AMD copies from Intel (P4->BD for instance), they decided to copy Intel’s idea about offloading the handheld chip division. It’s not like AMD can make a solid business plan themselves without sneaking a peek on big brother’s plans..

      The one thing they bravely tried all by themselves (offloading the fabs) completely screwed them over.

        • ludi
        • 8 years ago

        That seems a bit facile. If they hadn’t offloaded the fabs, would they have already gone through a bankruptcy by now, and probably wrecked some Tier 1 customer relationships in the process?

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        While there is some parallels (as there will be with any large corporation) many of AMD’s decisions have been quite different from intels such as the decision to go fabless and the aquiring of a strong graphics asset. Both of which has allowed AMD to stick around longer then if they remained a CPU only company. Intel on the other hand seem happy to either buy out technologies and kill them or sponsor others as a capitol investment for later takeover to add to their portfolio.

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    Their new focus seems to line up with the products I am interested in from them. Makes sense I suppose, though it will be a little sad to see them pretty much forget about their desktop CPUs.

    • lycium
    • 8 years ago

    Great article, thanks Scott!

    • LaChupacabra
    • 8 years ago

    This is long, gonna give it a TL:DR
    [b<]I get a little emotional about the article and compare AMD to a once drunken accountant[/b<] This is a little weird because it was the K6-2 that was my first real foray into being an "enthusiast" computer person. Every article I could find said they were great value and sometimes even beat the more expensive Intel equivalent. As a kid, it was as close to affording the fast stuff as I could get. Fast forward however many years and this decision makes solid business sense. It's a direction focused on partnerships and AMD needs solid partnerships in order to survive. I guess the sad thing about this is it is officially the end of an era. Their last 3 major releases (Phenom, Phenom II and Bulldozer) I was holding out hope they would pull a rabbit out of their hat and trounce Intel. Even if it were only in a few very specific ways. My latest box is Intel based and that's the first since I started building my own. Even though the era ended years ago this article has officially changed AMD for me. Instead of being an exciting underdog that you wanted to see get up and thrash Intel in the benchmarks while undercutting them on price they are now just another supplier of chips. With aspirations of checking off boxes in columns with headings like "decode HD content" and "Sub 4 watt." The enthusiast in me is a little sad today. It's like randomly meeting the first person that ever got you drunk only to find out they have become an accountant. And the worst kind of accountant, the kind that doesn't drink. Sure, you know it is better for them. And they now have a family to support. But you always want them to be that guy that magically made a bottle of Smirnoff appear on what would otherwise be a regular, boring night.

      • esterhasz
      • 8 years ago

      I know what you mean but if your shift your focus a bit, it does look a little less bleak: the whole APU thing has the potential to bring decent graphics performance to smaller and cheaper machines, and redefine PC gaming in the process. That’s exciting, less in a “bigger, better” but in a “hybrid car” sense.

      So perhaps your accountant friend no longer drinks but maybe you could do some of the Ritalin he snatched from his kids together…

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 8 years ago

        This is the thing that really throws me. People are asking for practically artificially “faster” CPUs, which accomplish virtually nothing in use, while completely ignoring that they now have the potential to make graphics probably 50% faster per year.

        But that’s in the CPU itself, which is going to catch and exceed graphics cards very quickly, and allow for all sorts of new possibilities beyond your ginormous, power hungry desktop.

        They’re going to bring this to phones, which Intel obviously will take an eternity to even take into consideration. It will be back to AMD and Nvidia competing in graphics, with tangible progress.

        There’s nothing to cry about here. Computers will start improving much closer to the rate that transistor density increases, which will totally change things – just not for your desktop.

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      Well, I’m really hoping Papermaster is serious (and right) when he said they’ll need more than the 10 – 15% performance improvement they estimate to get every year out of Bulldozer, and they’ll get it. What happens after 2014 depends on how well they will execute on that plan, I guess.

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        They watched the Pentium 4 fail hard and then thought they could design a (relatively) low IPC, high MHz, high TDP CPU that would be any good?? *facepalm*

          • ronch
          • 8 years ago

          That’s because they miscalculated the market. Back when the project was started, multi-core was all the craze (I believe it was the time AMD trounced Intel in terms of seamlessly putting two cores on a piece of silicon) and everyone’s excited about the possibilities. They wanted to get ready for the many-core explosion in the market, and the shared modular approach is perhaps sound (back then, at least), but the idea exploded in their faces, apparently, because emulating something like the P4 is perhaps the biggest mistake on their part.

            • Duck
            • 8 years ago

            It’s just terrible. I love the modular design, but even if they could pull it off, for competing in the mobile space (which is growing year on year as many people no longer need a desktop to do what they want) they would need a whole new architecture where efficiency and high IPC rules.

      • BestJinjo
      • 8 years ago

      The ironic part is AMD would have been far better off just taking Phenom II and shrinking it to 32nm, increasing clocks and perhaps adding 5-10% more IPC to it. Instead, they scrapped that design entirely, spent 5 years working on Bulldozer that turned out to be worse than Phenom II. The only reason Bulldozer is actually competitive with Phenom II is because it is on 32nm. If they didn’t spend all that $ on developing Bulldozer, they could have been investing in the development of SoC chips for smartphones, tablets and low-power devices for emerging markets, etc. a long time ago. Nvidia even got a head-start on them with Tegra.

      For us enthusiasts who build desktops or own gaming laptops, this new direction for AMD officially means that AMD is ‘irrelevant’, other than their outstanding Discrete Graphics division.

      Even the new strategic direction seems questionable. The chances of AMD actually bringing out anything worth talking about for the smartphone or tablet markets are slim. What are they going to do? License ARM? The competition in both of those markets is NOT about hardware but software. People want an Android phone or an iPhone, with the remainder choosing RIM or WP7. But in those markets, most consumers couldn’t care less who makes the CPU for their smartphone, as long as the experience is smooth, the phone had lots of apps, they can use text messaging for free with their friends, etc. This means that AMD would have to win contracts fFROM current chip leaders in those segments. How are they going to do that exactly? Nvidia has been trying for years. It’s like a company with little to no experience designing uber-efficient chips going head-to-head with companies like Qualcomm, TI, Samsung that have been developing these chips for years. Good luck with that.

      Until we know more details of how AMD is going to attack the smartphone and tablet markets, all they have provided so far is just a strategy outline. OK great, we mostly already knew that they are shifting to low budget/mobile devices 1-2 years ago from rumors; and the Board of Directions wouldn’t stop talking about it. No one really cares about a strategic outline. What people care more about is HOW you are going to actually execute your new strategy. So far they have said nothing about HOW, just provided vague information about “adapting” to new “emerging markets” with “lower powered devices”.

      This is HOW you connect strategy to Execution:

      1) Intel
      Strategy: We are going to advance performance and reduce power consumption.
      Execution: Intel presents a new 3D Tri-gate transistor, outlines its advancements and benefits and HOW that ties in into the advanced performance goal. Intel discusses the shift to 22nm process and HOW that will reduce leakage and increase transistor switching. Intel discusses new instruction set for Haswell and HOW that will increase multi-threaded performance.

      2) Nvidia
      Strategy: Goal to expand to more consumer devices, focus on mobile devices.
      Execution: Nvidia sets up a presentation Booth of its chips powering Navigation systems in cars at the Chicago Auto Show. The presentation shows HOW Nvidia is powering navigation systems/Google Earth and HOW graphics are related to consumer devices. Nvidia highlights teaming up with Asus to provide the first Quad-Core SoC. They show HOW their partnership with Asus is them working closer with consumer devices to gain market penetration and mind-share in a segment where they are still a small player.

      3) AMD
      Strategy: To shift focus on emerging markets, mobile clients, cloud servers, and embedded systems. To grow market share in “less competitive market segments” with the fastest industry growth rate.
      Execution: … …. …. sorry we can’t tell you how we are going to do that … … … but we have 7,000 engineers. It’s all good.

      I wish they were more transparent like the other companies are. Otherwise, anyone can come up on stage and do a presentation and use Business lingo to say a lot, but really add little value.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        If I could rate this up a hundred times I would. Well said.

      • tcubed
      • 8 years ago

      let me paint you the picture a bit. They now have GPU dominance, they have a so&so CPU, and are 2-3 years ahead in CPU-GPU integration over intel. So they propose a decoupled architecture that is not CPU or GPU or instruction set bound. Doing this is like java only on hardware level. You can run anything on the infrastructure. Meaning AMD will be able to market on IP lease/licencing to others and or use 3-rd party IP in their own designs.

      This will make them flexible enough to design chips with either arm or x86 or GPU cores or any kind of combo.This, plus their interest in low voltage markets means they will slowly but surely abandon the desktop (which is a dying mass market anyway) and enterportable, high parallel server markets and chip on demand types of soc.

      This means in the future Samsung or Dell may come to AMD and ask for a certain type of chips for their specific needs. AMD will be able to tailor chips as system board builders build boards nowadays just at a silicon level, going this route from now on will ensure that AMD will always have sufficient demand and sufficient agility to answer to it.

      This means that if Intel doesn’t do something, in 5 years they will become as obsolete as IBM is in the consumer markets (including servers but not super computers). If this goes on like this Intel will enter ever more salty waters in competing against a very big supercomputer heavyweight in their own arena – how that would turn out remains to be seen.

      On the other hand with unified CPU/GPU with a common abstraction layer, programmers will be able to write code seamlessly integrating the GPU powerhouse into day to day programming. If this happens and programmers do understand how to use it, the CPU part might slowly become a secondary compute unit, or a management unit, for the much more powerful GPU cores.

      I think AMDs strategy is sound and I think that they still have a lot of fight in them, don’t write them off just yet. They might come back at Intel knocking on their back door and making them really pay the fee for the billions they payed to kick AMD out the market.

    • clone
    • 8 years ago

    I get the impression AMD is going to walk away from desktop almost entirely, that they mentioned SOC with enthusiasm is downright frightening and if they aren’t even going to fortify server then desktop will suffer all the more for it.

    I can see why and accept it but it still saddens to see them going and leaving a lone monopoly for Intel.

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      I think part of the blame was us for bashing Bulldozer when it came out..

        • clone
        • 8 years ago

        I doubt it but I will say that Bulldozer really destroyed even fanatical fanboy based discussion, reducing it to …. “it may get better eventually”. & “let’s hope it gets better because no one wants an Intel monopoly.”

        OEM’s know how to read performance benchmarks just like everyone else does and while the web was far more aggressive in it’s condemnation the truth is Bulldozer is weak…. at least so far, lol.

          • Voldenuit
          • 8 years ago

          Did you read Anandtech’s Opteron 6276 second look? Bulldozer is competitive in real world server loads. It’s clear that AMD pursued the server workload for BD at the expense of the high end desktop, but this has certainly alienated many desktop AMD enthusiasts.

          I’m not saying that Bulldozer wasn’t a disappointment, only that it’s not a [i<]total[/i<] failure. It doesn't help the desktop enthusiast, though, intel remains the only option for high end desktop builds at the moment.

            • just brew it!
            • 8 years ago

            Thanks for the heads-up on [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/5279/the-opteron-6276-a-closer-look<]the Anandtech article[/url<]. While it does paint a less dire picture, it isn't exactly glowing either: [quote<]Looking at the server performance results of the new Opteron is nothing less than very confusing. It can be very capable in some applications (OLTP, ERP, HPC) but disappointing in others (OLAP, Rendering). The same is true for the performance/watt results. And of course, if you name a new architecture Bulldozer and you target it at the server space, you expect something better than "similar to a midrange Xeon".[/quote<]

            • Stranger
            • 8 years ago

            I think in the end the 12 month and now 18 month lead that intel has in fab tech is just becoming unbeatable. The age of unending performance improvements from just using better designs has come to an end. It seems as though most performance increases are going come from specialized hardware designed to deal with special situations such as transactional memory.

            • clone
            • 8 years ago

            I didn’t read the article but I do agree that Bulldozer will have a place in server….. I’d mentioned the moment Bulldozer was released that AMD sacrificed desktop for server.

            p.s. I also believe Bulldozer has a solid future going forward that may enable the company to survive until they find the new direction they are searching for.

        • travbrad
        • 8 years ago

        You mean telling the truth?

          • ronch
          • 8 years ago

          Yes, but being more civilized about it. Oh heck, who am I kidding?

          • clone
          • 8 years ago

          I don’t believe a condemnation =’s telling the truth.

          Bulldozer wasn’t and isn’t that bad a cpu, disappointing for everyone hoping for an AMD comeback that would force Intel to compete again… sure.

          that said I don’t believe the fanatical bad press holds much value in the server market and Bulldozer isn’t and wasn’t going to excel in desktop anyway unless it competed in price.

          to believe fanatacial rantings are what hurt bulldozer is to believe that fanatical rantings have value which usually isn’t the case, fanatical rantings are typically a compilation of misinterpretation and misinformation that serve only to showcase the authors inability to offer up an informed response.

          I’m not citing nor centering on anyone in particular and just stating the obvious.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Aye… BD isn’t a terrible processor. Looking at the benchmarks it doesn’t fall that far behind Intel when it comes to real world performance. People go out of their way to accentuate differences when there is very little else to go off of. Like it wouldn’t be a show stopper to get a Bulldozer instead of a i7. It isn’t faster then Intels fastest, but when has that been a new thing. Either Intel or AMD ended up with the new chips and one of them was always slower then the other…

        The same thing happens with Nvidia and AMD. It was blown out of proportion how much Bulldozers ‘suck’.

        I personally think this isn’t the result of the press and communities take on BD though. You don’t just jump ship because people are poopooing on you.

          • just brew it!
          • 8 years ago

          Agree 100% that it isn’t a terrible processor. It’s a [i<]mediocre[/i<] processor. Its price/performance and performance/watt are, on the whole, rather similar to their previous gen processors. People were expecting something [i<]better[/i<], and that's why it got slammed.

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 8 years ago

            [i<]All[/i<] AMD's 32nm processors are mediocre, BD has the additional problem of being v1.0.

          • jweller
          • 8 years ago

          “…isn’t a terrible processor…” is a pretty low bar.

      • Auril4
      • 8 years ago

      Maybe we should prepare ourselves to see CPU prices to skyrocket in the near future.

        • ronch
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve noticed at some e-tailers such as TigerDirect that some CPU prices have inched up a little bit. I don’t know why, but for example, you could get a 2500K from TD for $210 a few months ago. Now it’s $230. The 2600K was $320 before, and is now $10 more expensive. Not sure if the other CPU prices have gone up too because I haven’t been monitoring (nor would I want to) every chip’s price.

          • clone
          • 8 years ago

          the worst part now is that instead of competition from AMD being blamed for price reductions we will see the weather being blamed for price increases on Intel parts.

          “earthquacke in Haiti disrupted manufacturing at Intel’s Israel facility”, “stormy seas disrupted shipment making it an hour late leading to shortage of inventory”, “clear sky with beautiful humidity and temp lead to workers taking day off disrupting janitors from cleaning the robots on Friday at Intel facility…. prices rise, see full story at 11:00”

          • just brew it!
          • 8 years ago

          Following the Bulldozer launch and subsequent EOLing of Athlon II / Phenom II, prices of some of the non-Bulldozer AMD chips spiked (presumably as people started snapping them up before they disappear from the distribution channels). This would’ve allowed sellers to charge more for mid-range Intel CPUs as well, since there was less price competition from cheap AMD CPUs.

          • swaaye
          • 8 years ago

          I noticed too. I built a 2500k box a few months ago and the chip was $209.

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    Translation: It’s possible the X4 955 in my current system is the last AMD desktop CPU I’ll ever have.

    By some miracle Piledriver might give just enough of a performance boost and energy drop that, if priced competitively, I could see myself purchasing it. But I’ve already become comfortable with the notion that my next CPU will be a 2500K or one of its heirs, and that CPU should probably last me for a ridiculously long time given that the X4 955 is still giving me all the performance I need.

    So this is the end of high end X86 competition. Crap. Let that sink in for a moment.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      no, it’s just the end of x86 competition at the high end. And by the way, that competition ended around 2009 when socket 1156 quads were introduced.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Er, that’s what I said “the end of high end x86 competition” = “the end of x86 competition at the high end”.

        And this is AMD officially quitting the chase. Intel’s launch of 1156 didn’t say anything about AMDs intentions.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 8 years ago

      [quote=”flip-mode”<]My next CPU will be an Intel Core i5-2500K or one of its heirs.[/quote<] You mean the Core i5-3570K, don't you?

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Huh? You lost me.

          • grantmeaname
          • 8 years ago

          [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/22198[/url<]

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Maybe he’ll buy a discount 2500k when retailers are trying to get rid of old CPUs. Might be a fantastic deal..

      • halbhh2
      • 8 years ago

      I’ve been considering an X4, and an X6, and the 8-core….but it’s a longer story.

      I had an X4 640 on a 785G which had 4200 integrated graphic, and honestly, it was sweet. A friend’s computer got fried, and I gave him it, and got one of those free motherboard combos from a local Microcenter, and decided to try out an X2 560. It’s actually pretty effective most of the time. I’m running 3 monitors and bought a radeon 6570, as I will never spend more than about $60 or $70 on graphic, now or ever.

      But I did notice a shortcoming in the X2 560the other day where finally, after a few months, I had an actual situation where the processor was lagging just a bit, and caused a HD streaming movie to stutter (I think), so that to get smooth playback, I had to close a couple of things and use IE instead of firefox, etc. Not sure, but I watched the processor, and it eased down, like maybe siverlight is better with IE. No matter. That was the first time, in months now, that the X2 finally was a bit short of what I needed.

      Some options: there is a sale on X4 830 for $50, which is a good price. Or I could get that turbo thing I’d enjoy thinking about, like go for a 1055T or some such, or even the Am3+ chips, just cause the turbo is so sweet. But I’d hate to pay like $120 for a chip. Good grief.

      So….perhaps I could get a used 955 somewhere, for $50 or so, and then wait a bit for the x8 kinda chip.

    • just brew it!
    • 8 years ago

    The take-home message I got from this:

    While this is not great news it is about as good as could have been hoped for under the circumstances. They’re in a bind, and don’t have much chance of winning (or even surviving) against Intel in a head-to-head matchup. So their plan is to become leaner, more diverse, and more agile, going after niche markets where Intel is weak, or where Intel is afraid to push hard for fear of cannibalizing sales of other chips higher up in their product line.

    It sounds like a reasonable strategy for survival over the near term, and (provided they can execute) for future success over the long term.

    I wish them luck.

      • Alexko
      • 8 years ago

      You know, they’re currently in a tough competitive position, with clearly inferior CPUs. They do kind of make up for it with much better graphics, but my point is that even in this tough situation, they’re still profitable.

      So I really wouldn’t count them out just yet.

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        They lost money last quarter.

          • cygnus1
          • 8 years ago

          On paper

      • chuckula
      • 8 years ago

      AMD has the ability to compete with Intel by focusing on AMD’s comparative strengths and Intel’s weaknesses (good example being graphics). AMD can certainly be OK going forward if it focuses in the right areas.

      As for the king-of-the-hill mentality that rules around here, the bad news is that the high-end Desktop & Server markets are NOT where AMD’s strengths are and you can see that, even though the CEO wasn’t express about it, resources are already being taken away from those areas (canceled 10 & 20 core parts, server platform not receiving an upgrade, etc.). The good news is that AMD can survive nicely in other areas, but the hopes by many people that AMD will somehow put Intel out of business are not coming true any time soon.

        • clone
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t believe for a moment that ppl wanted Intel out of the game, they just wanted a real 2nd player, this was more to ask than was reasonable in the long term.

        looking at the companies history proved this all along, Intel pushed manufacturing tech and AMD couldn’t compete…… AMD was never going to be able to compete with Intel in manufacturing tech, that was always obvious.

        AMD cannot try to leverage it’s graphics …. lol, for those who complained about the ATI purchase that’s mud in the eye for them that it’s even being mentioned….. lol.

        the truth is AMD’s superiority in graphics is temporary, Intel will be able to kill AMD eventually by covering most of the bases, AMD’s gaming support will only grab them a small part of the market that Intel ignores and Nvidia occupies which leaves the 2 of them battling over Intel’s scraps that drop off the table.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah worked out well for Matrox didn’t it?

      /sarcasm

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        Matrox is still around. Their web site lists a number of job openings, so they’re apparently hiring. I’d say they’re probably doing OK in the markets they’ve chosen to focus on, though there’s no way to know for sure since they’re privately held.

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 8 years ago

          I didn’t mean to say the Matrox was *dead*, just that setting the bar so low as mere survival seems awfully low (and wasn’t Dirk fired for having his sights set too low?). Matrox could have gone another route but is now irrelevant in the desktop add in market or any other typical graphics market.

          My comment was also meant to apply to your comment about agility – I’m not at all sure that agile is a word that is appropriate to Matrox. They’ve survived and good on them (G400 Max baby!) but they haven’t made some sort of comeback afterwards. But the idea that AMD could be just as irrelevant not only horrifies me – it makes me sad.

          It seems I should have worded my response better (or tried to be less jokey).

            • just brew it!
            • 8 years ago

            Yes, I agree the prospect of AMD potentially exiting the desktop CPU market is very troubling. But if comes down to a choice between that or bankrupting the company, the choice is clear. I’m not saying we’re at that crossroads yet, but it could happen.

            There’s no shame in producing specialized products for niche markets; [i<]someone's[/i<] got to do it, and the margins are generally better!

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            I don’t think destroy.all.monsters was thinking of it from the perspective of AMD, but rather as a consumer, where AMD not being competitive is really bad.

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t like what I hear. But it’s only the results that are important I guess. The proof is in the pudding.

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 8 years ago

    If I may:

    Bulldozer had cleared the way for “New Beginnings”, only Piledriver will probably drill an even deeper hole for AMD once new Intel Silicon arrives. But not too worry, all you need is a Steamroller to smooth out any imperfections in the arcitechture. Intel come along again and build an Ivy Bridge over your nice Steamrollered plains – Dammit. No worries, we bust out our Excavator to dig us out of the really big hole we are now in – made by Samsung no less…

    …They should leave me to write their road maps 😀

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 8 years ago

      Downvoted into oblivion already… :-/

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Well, the construction puns are overdone on these AMD articles, but I gave you +1’s for at least attempting something. Next time you’ll have to succeed in being funny or I’ll take it back.

          • VILLAIN_xx
          • 8 years ago

          You have alternate accounts to thumb up/down? 🙂

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Find a sigil stone and you’ll get right back.

    • bthylafh
    • 8 years ago

    Makes sense that they’ll be emphasizing CPUs whose performance is “good enough” and have low power consumption; that does seem to be where a lot of the market is going now that laptops are so popular.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Sounds a lot like the plan and direction that VIA started down with the C3 years ago and we all know how big of a player they are now.

        • ludi
        • 8 years ago

        And it worked, to the extent that they targeted the correct markets for “good enough” — emerging, and embedded. Still sell into both last I heard.

        VIA never had a strong CPU design for western PC markets after Intel launched the Pentium, and the only time VIA made money hand over fist in these parts was on DDR chipsets, back when Intel woke up next to Rambus after the tequila had worn off, and discovered that Rambus had swallowed the key to the handcuffs.

          • Deanjo
          • 8 years ago

          I wouldn’t say it worked. Via is a mere shadow of what they once were and have stagnated to the point where nobody even considers them a competitor anymore. As far as CPU design goes their chips were competitive, even leaders on many aspects but once they fell out of the mainstream following fell into relative obscurity to the point where nobody considers them a real competitor anymore.

            • Duck
            • 8 years ago

            The only reason to buy VIA is when there isn’t a 1/2 decent Intel/AMD alternative.

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