AMD had their big CES-2013 press conference yesterday and while the tone was the typical joyous “we are doing great” one that you hear in any press conference from a tech company these days there was something else behind the happy faces and smiles. As we watched and listened to the different speakers we heard this subtle tone and it was an apology. AMD’s message for 2013 is that they will not only promise better performance and competing products, but they will execute and deliver on those products.
The recently introduced AMD FX processors codenamed Vishera could remain on the market throughout the next year. Unofficial sources have said in part of the presentation that showed AMD's processor roadmap for the coming year, apparently FX chips for desktop computers will stagnate on Vishera solutions with the Piledriver core.
Even though Advanced Micro Devices announced last year that they will cut 10% of their workers by the end of 2012's first quarter, things are even worse now. After they announced that expected sales will decrease approximately 10% from the last quarter, they are expected to announce in increase to the number of workers cut to go up to 30% because of weak sales. Rumors are that AMD plans to announce the workforce cuts between 20% and 30% next week, and it will focus on jobs involving sales and engineering.
After the success of their consumer level APUs it looks like AMD wants to try and bring some of that to the professional world. Yes, they are going to be making something like Trinity for the workstation market. AMD is going to attempt to drop a CPU (or four) inside their FirePro GPUs to see if it sticks. The move is almost the opposite of what you see with the APUs. In the Llano and Trinity you have a small number of GPU cores that are added into the CPU die in order to provide graphical output. These cores are very efficient and were pulled from AMD’s successful Radeon line of GPUs. In the new FirePro Processors they will maintain the full GPU (just like in a discrete card), but add in CPU cores to create a more functional whole.
AMD is one of those companies that really need to take a long hard look at its past to get a good handle on where it is going. My first experiences with AMD go pretty far back to when they were making 2x86 CPUs on license from Intel. At the time AMD was also a pretty big player in the DSP market and could be found in many of the early two-way radios and later in Cell phones (it was cool to show that to people that were skeptical of buying AMD for the first time. Still AMD was always considered the low cost alternative to Intel, but one that came with a performance hit (it was not completely true, but that was what the market thought).
AMD has just announced that their Q2 earnings may be as much as 11% lower than expected (over Q1 2012). Originally AMD predicted a gain of 3% sequentially for this quarter, but it looks like a few things did not turn out the way they planned. AMD is mostly blaming the issue on slow channel sales in China and Europe, but also stated that they encountered a weak market which impacted their OEM sales. Both causes are over generalizations of an issue that we saw coming back in 2011; AMD has to get their products into the hands of the consumer.
At Computex in Taipei AMD is showing off a prototype Windows 8 tablet. This is something that we predicted they would do right after they announced their shift to low power CPUs (well really APUs). It was a move that we predicted was not only logical, but one that was necessary for AMD with the shift to tablets and ultrabooks that many companies are making in anticipation of Windows 8 and its very touch oriented design.
We have talked quite a bit about AMD’s move to the APU (something that they talked about long before the ATi buyout) and what it has, so far, meant to AMD. Right now AMD’s Llano and Trinity APUs have brought something of a resurgence of AMD in the market at least at the lower priced level. AMD CEO Rory Reed has even go so far as to state that AMD is pushing for more GPU processing to handle more graphically geared content and to work with future cloud services. The problem is that so far, while AMD’s APUs are working great for gaming they have still not been able to keep up with Intel for computing power even at the same price points.
Although we reported on this last year it seems that AMD is intent on reminding all of us about their new strategy. In comments to BloombergBusinessweek CEO Rory Read has made the comment that AMD will no longer compete head to head with Intel in the CPU market. This time Read qualifies his comment with a statement that is sure to be put in the same category of Bill Gates’ famous (although misattributed) “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
AMD made Trinity official today with a real live launch of the newest APU in their Fusion family of chips. Although an AMD exec leaked that the new mobile processors were already in the channel back in early April today is the “official” launch day. AMD is wasting no time in letting people know they are going to be working to out price Intel with Trinity products as well.