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 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.
Around 2013, AMD entered into an extended partnership with a group of companies to create the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture Foundation. These companies mostly ARM licensees and included Samsung, MediaTek, Texas Instruments (Ti), AMD, Imagination, Qualcomm, and even ARM themselves. The group was similar in nature to the one that AMD had with Motorola and Ti back before the Athlon processor came into existence. The partners were all working on technology and resource sharing to make programing for devices simpler. We also saw it as a chance for AMD to offset R&D costs and potentially enter into some beneficial agreements.
In September of 2015 (that would be this year) AMD announced that they were splitting off their GPU business into the Radeon Technologies Group (RTG). This move had a number of reasons (most good) and would serve to distance the graphics group from the CPU business. After talking to a few investors they were very optimistic about this move and would consider investing in RTG where they might not have done so in AMD. The split was a long time coming and is actually how AMD should have handled the ATi buy back in 2006 (Merger with separate business units and not a complete buy out).
Although much of the press surrounding AMD at the moment is focused on their lackluster earnings for Q2, there is some potentially good news from them. AMD’s dive into the use of High Bandwidth Memory is going to continue with their next GPU line up. According to the information available the next generation of GPUs will be code named Artic Islands and should be manufactures on a 16nm FinFET process.
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.
We have talked about some of the challenges that AMD is facing due to poor sales (and bad leadership), but many of these challenges have not been as evident as what is happening in the GPU world. Although we have talked a little bit about AMD’s next generation cards from the top of the heap, we have not really looked at what is happening with the rest of the line.
Some GPU news comes today from the AMD camp where we are hearing rumors that AMD’s Radeon 390X might ship with 8GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). Now this sounds great when you take into account the fact that HBM has some serious muscle behind it (128GBps per memory chip). AMD could technically leapfrog nVidia’s new monster the GeForce Titian X with 12GB of memory onboard. The problem is that some of the information that is floating around does not seem to add up.
New Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan Z graphics card with 12 GB of memory was supposed to arrive to stores on April 29th, in the meantime, rumurs have emerged and saying that will not happen after all.