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.
A couple of days ago we published an article on the state of AMD and what their immediate (next 18 months) looked like. In that article we looked at the state that AMD is in right now with what they have on the table…. It seems that a few readers did not like what we had to say. Oddly enough, yesterday a number of articles popped up on the internet that supported much of what we had to say including many of the time lines (14nm by Q3 2016 etc.) Let’s take a look at some of the information out there.
In the last couple of months we have talked a lot about AMD and the direction they are trying to move to. Most of what we have reported is not good news and centers on the fact that AMD’s R&D/production budget is dwindling to the point where they cannot push multiple projects at one time. They have had to consolidate their efforts to the point that they do not really have products to bring to market to make them more money. An example of this is the lack of a new GPU for the normal launch cycles. AMD does have some products in the pipeline, but these might not be enough to win them back any marketshare from Intel or NVIDIA.
Although you would not think it possible, AMD is still having issues that stem back from their purchase of ATi all those years ago. As most of you are sick of hearing the details of that acquisition and the gradual fall out we will not bore you here. What we will talk about are some of the issues that AMD now faces and what they mean for the consumer and AMD themselves.
When it comes to competing in the CPU market, one of AMD’s big issues has been trying to get to the same process as Intel. Ever since the purchase of ATi by AMD they have always been one (and in some cases two) processes behind. What made this even worse was when AMD hit such bad financial times that they had to sell off their FABs just keep the lights on. They now had to deal with a fledgling foundry company that still had some of the same old managers. This has meant that even when AMD might have a design they were still going to be behind Intel when it came to performance per watt.
AMD can be a confusing company. Over the years they have made more than a few choices that just do not seem to make sense, but we are not going to dive into that right now. Instead we are going to focus on a recent decision that seems both ill-conceived and sure to confuse AMD supporters.
AMD has been something of an unusual company ever since they first decided to dive into the x86 market with their purchase of NexGen. The would-be CPU maker had an interesting knack of building CPUs that performed well, but were always just a pace behind their rivals. That was the case until AMD pulled off a minor miracle in the form of the Athlon and Athlon64 CPUs. AMD seemed to have stolen the crown from Intel and looked likely to keep it for a long time.
There is a rumor that is claiming AMD will not have a new desktop processor until 2016 that has been making the rounds today. The claim is that AMD is shifting their current focus to mobile CPUs and APUs. Originally it was thought that Carrizo would be the next chip offering that that it would keep up with Intel by offering support for DDR4.
One of the items we have always beat AMD up on is there poor memory performance in their CPUs and APUs. This little issue is what has separated AMD from Intel since the AM2 days. It has always been understood that latency has a massive impact on an internal memory controller. As you latency increases your efficiency decreases. You can offset some of this by enlarging your cache and also optimizing the CPU to use it more efficiently. This is one area that AMD has traditionally had issues with, even going back to the Athlon 64 we saw them reducing cache sizes to remove problems and bump performance.
AMD fans might have some good news for them in the next few months. It seems that one of the geniuses that helped to bring the K7 and K8 CPUs to the world, Jim Keller, is back at AMD and will be working on the next generation of CPUs and APUs. AMD (as many will remember) got themselves into trouble after they scooped up ATi for a cool $5.4 Billion dollars. This move was intended to bring AMD more in line with what Intel had (and had planned). In the end the buyout hurt both AMD and ATi putting both behind their rivals for more than a few years.