In the early 2000s AMD was on top of the world, they had a desktop processor that was what everyone wanted. AMD was handily beating Intel in terms of performance and pushing x86-64 computing out to the world. In 2006 AMD made an odd decision to buy GPU maker ATi for a rather hefty sum. This one act threw AMD off their game so badly that they operated in the red for many years after the purchase. However, over the last 2-3 years AMD has made some well-planned changes internally. These changes included dropping the mobile focus and creating the RTG (Radeon Technology Group). They have secured some technologies through purchases and cleaned up some financially impacting deals.
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.
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.