There is an old saying in business that you have to spend money to make money. The meaning is sort of plain, but we will give you a clear example of what it means. In the tech world, if you are not spending money to improve your products or to build the next generation then you are pretty much going to have a very short life. This is not to say you have to dump huge mounds of cash into research and development, but you do have to spend some on the right things. This means that you can tell a lot about a company’s focus and future outlook by simply looking at their R&D spending.
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.
Back in October of last year we talked a little bit about AMD’s plans and where Rory Reed saw AMD heading. We knew from his past work with Lenovo that he was fascinated with the mobile world and that he felt it was the future of computing. Since that time we have heard him talk more and more about how the current laptops and desktops have more than enough power to do what they need to do. His reasoning is that the computer world is going to shift to the cloud and back into the traditional client/server infrastructure or more accurately the mainframe/terminal infrastructure. Looking at the current state of the cloud the Mainframe/Terminal model is the way that many companies want to go anyway. They want to do all of your calculations, rendering, compiling and then send you the output. All your “PC” needs to be able to do is display that output. This is the future that Rory Reed envisions for AMD.
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).