Since the ATi purchase AMD has struggled with trying to compete in the CPU market. They have tried many different strategies and approaches. One even included distancing themselves from the performance market and focusing solely on mobile. This disastrous strategy did not work out well and led to a string of APUs that performed well when it came to graphics but had some serious performance issues when it came to traditional compute work. Now AMD is attempting to position themselves back in the enthusiast space with a new strategy and a new architecture.
It seems that AMD’s recent licensing moves and the press that Zen has been getting has given investors more confidence in the company. On Friday this confidence pushed AMD’s share price by almost 10% at $6.18 (the 52 week high) of this writing AMD’s share price has dropped some, but is still up by a little more than 5% ($6.14). Some have seen this as proof that AMD is going to have a comeback soon and that Intel should be very worried.
AMD might have some demo Zen silicon to show off at their expected press conference during Computex. This is the rumor that is coming from multiple sources at the moment. If true, this would be good for AMD for a couple of reasons. The first is the most obvious; they would have a real product to show off to the press. This will, of course, generate a lot of press and conversation about Zen. It will also get consumers eager for Zen, if, the demos can showcase performance that compares to current Intel hardware in the same class at a price point that is competitive.
It looks like AMD is trying to develop a new revenue stream and also create some additional competition for Intel. Ever since AMD bet the farm on purchasing ATi they have been taking a back seat to Intel. The reasons are many, but one of the big ones was not having enough money for R&D for multiple concurrent projects. After the ATi buy failed to yield results quickly they had to start cutting corners. R&D and marketing were some of the first places hit. Now, many years (and a number of CEOs) later AMD is still fighting to be relevant. They have some solid ideas, but just to not have the capital to put them all on the table at once.
AMD made an interesting announcement today. They are claiming to have the world’s first hardware virtualized GPU. Dubbed the FirePro S7150 and S7150 x2, these two server GPUs are not intended as direct output devices, but are to be used to power graphics for virtualized solutions. From the announcement AMD is diving into the cloud gaming, GPU assisted cloud computing and also in GPU accelerated VDI applications.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum and that is certainly true. Something will come along to fill the void if we let nature take its course. Unfortunately this law is a little mutated in the consumer electronics market and especially in the PC component world. Here is reads; the market cannot stand not having an “It” technology, so we much create one. It seems that the last few years we have been watching this happen.
On the 19th of January Samsung announced that they had begun mass production of their 4GB HBM 2.0 3D memory. This announcement was the starting gun for the next big GPU race. As we know both AMD and NVIDIA are racing to get viable products to the market in time for Oculus and HTC to launch their consumer version VR headsets. Up until now we have really only seen the developers’ kits and while these have been impressive they are not what most are hoping for in the final product.
AMD as a corporate entity is facing some rough times. As of their last earnings call we saw that they are still losing money and really do not have a product ready to combat this. The Rage Fury line of GPUs is doing ok in terms of sales, but as of this writing AMD has not been able to take a significant amount of market share from NVIDIA or even Intel. This is not to say that Radeon Graphics, or AMD’s APUs are bad products, it is just that they are not performing as well as the competition. In terms of the APU AMD still cannot compete with the compute power of Intel’s Core series even though the GPU side of the APU is a much better product.
AMD says it’s a VR thing now. Well ok, not really, but AMD is leveraging the increased memory bandwidth in their high-end R9 Fury cards to push both 4k and VR. They showed off the R9 Fury X dual-GPU reference design working for the first time at VRLA (Virtual Reality Los Angeles). This card will feature two 28nm Fiji GPUs plus an estimated 8GB of 2.5D HBM 1.0. The memory would be split between the two GPUs at 4GB each.
AMD is delaying the launch of their new Zen based CPUs until the end of 2016. The news comes on the heels of a rather subdued, if optimistic, earnings report in which Lisa Su, AMD CEO, focused on AMD’s commitment to innovation and highlighted improved R&D spending. It is true that AMD’s operating loss has dropped massively when compared to Q4 2014, but much of this is due to cut backs in operating costs over actual revenue. This is despite claims that AMD’s GPU and Semi-Custom sales were to thank. During 2015 we saw AMD start to pull back from other products (and product lines) to conserve money and focus on creating a compelling product. Zen is the hope for AMD’s future along with moving to a 14nm process.