AMD’s position in the console industry comes from their purchase of ATi. ATi was the GPU of choice for many consoles for a long time and only was ousted with the last generation of boxes (Xbox360 and PlayStation 3). Oddly enough the GPU in the Xbox 360 was manufactured by ATi despite being a Microsoft design so even though it was not truly an ATi device ATi still had their hands in the pie. After their acquisition by AMD ATi continued to maintain their close ties to the console market which is why AMD’s inclusion for both CPU and GPU products in the Wii, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One should come as no surprise to anyone that has been in the market for any length of time. This is simply an extension of AMD leveraging their strong GPU division with their newer small-core CPUs which is a smart move for them as consoles are selling slightly better than PCs at the moment.
The next item on the list of “why did they say that” is the claim that AMD is getting into Android. AMD has been a supporter of the Android x86 project ever since their first APUs and even a little before that. Again AMD saw an advantage with their graphically superior products. Their CPU cores were not as powerful, but when dealing with Android (or Linux) you do not need too much CPU power to keep things running smoothly. However, AMD was not in the position to put too much money and effort into the project so instead they provided basic support and the hardware to work with for some core members of the project. This was also a smart move as it is what you do when you cannot devote a ton of your own resources to a project. Now that AMD is developing fast, graphically powerful SoCs for both x86 and ARM they have an interesting position in the market; they are the only player that can work both sides of the arena.
We said before that AMD has a history of very smart moves when it comes to R&D as well as hoe they approach the market. When they worked to develop the HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation they were getting back to their old ways. Be involving multiple large partners in their plans they can reap the benefits of massive R&D resources without breaking the bank. This alliance also allows AMD to develop a common platform to work from for both ARM and x86. This further reduces their development costs as they work to rebuild their business model and return to profitability.
Now AMD appears to feel the time is right to officially support Android. Again, this is a smart move as they have both x86 and ARM based SoCs in the channel. They can support Window, Windows RT, Android and Chrome if they want to. It gives them a wider consumer base to market to. What is surprising is that until now AMD has publicly stood behind Windows 8 despite the fact that Microsoft went with Intel and nVidia to power their new Windows 8/RT devices. Perhaps it was the way that Microsoft snubbed AMD that pushed them other the edge to support Android and Chrome more publically or it is simply that Intel is getting into Android and Chrome, but in the end the reasons do not matter in the CE world. As always AMD needs to be sure that they execute and deliver products to the consumer quickly. These products HAVE to bring compelling new features market and not just long battery life. Hopefully with AMD’s new partnerships and some of their recent acquisitions they can make good on their promises (which is not AMD’s strongest suit) and get back into the game.
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