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.
At Computex in Taipei AMD is showing off a prototype Windows 8 tablet. This is something that we predicted they would do right after they announced their shift to low power CPUs (well really APUs). It was a move that we predicted was not only logical, but one that was necessary for AMD with the shift to tablets and ultrabooks that many companies are making in anticipation of Windows 8 and its very touch oriented design.
We have talked quite a bit about AMD’s move to the APU (something that they talked about long before the ATi buyout) and what it has, so far, meant to AMD. Right now AMD’s Llano and Trinity APUs have brought something of a resurgence of AMD in the market at least at the lower priced level. AMD CEO Rory Reed has even go so far as to state that AMD is pushing for more GPU processing to handle more graphically geared content and to work with future cloud services. The problem is that so far, while AMD’s APUs are working great for gaming they have still not been able to keep up with Intel for computing power even at the same price points.
It looks like AMD is putting some of the money they have been working to reclaim to good use (although we are not sure if this is the best time to do it). To help raise sales numbers of their APUs they have signed a deal with GameFly which gives a 30-day free membership and 20% of purchases. The move is a pretty smart one as we imagine the costs involved for AMD are small while the benefit could be pretty big especially in the mobile gaming arena.
There will be some rejoicing as AMD managed to grab a tiny amount of the x86 market share from Intel last quarter. According to Mercury research AMD’s combined x86 market share rose from 18.2 percent to 19.1. This .9 percent rise was attributed to AMD’s strong offering in the mobile market although some reports seemed to suggest otherwise.
Ok... remember how we told you that we had a suspicion that AMD might be working on an x86 based SoC. We have already seen several signs pointing to a major push on something new and we know that AMD is VERY excited about their Brazos and Llano products. If you add this on top of AMD CEO Rory Read’s fondness for small, low-powered mobile devices you can begin to see a picture emerging. The picture is still fuzzy, but we are finding more signs that could back up our case for AMD’s x86 SoC.
You knew this would happen (as it does almost every time a new CPU is ready to hit the market). In the hype leading up to the release we always start to see “leaked” slides that contain pricing, technical details and even launch dates. It is the same story over and over again and it is one that is, in some cases, perpetrated by the manufactures themselves or a partner bent on getting some good pre-launch press.
AMD’s Llano is not a new product; it is one that has been out on the market for long enough that all of the major hype and press has already been written. We recently wrapped up our long term testing of an AMD A6-3650 combined with a Gigabyte A75 motherboard. We were rather impressed with the performance that we saw, even if the numbers did not match up to the overall feel. Now we are taking a look at the same CPU, but taking a step down the ladder to the A55 chipset. This time the victim is the A55M-DS2 motherboard. You are losing a few items with this shift like USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 and a PCIe slot, but we wonder if that will really impact performance. So let’s take a look at the design and the features that you can expect to get when you pick up one of these.
With all of the excitement surround a CPU launch from both AMD and then Intel some of the smaller products have been overlooked. These are parts like the A75 chipset and the Llano CPU. We have had one of these up on the test bench for a while now. Mostly to run the performance tests and see where this hardware falls in terms of real performance, but also to try it out and see just what it is like to use. After all this is a platform that AMD was putting a good deal of stock in for future sales and market share. We wanted to see what it would be like to actually use one. We have already taken a look at the design philosophy and features So without any further preamble we bring you the second half of our Gigabyte A75-UD4H motherboard review.
Over the last few months I have watched a few analysis articles hit the internet with comments about the “stale” PC market and how the desktop PC is dying. These predictors of doom and gloom have always been around and in many cases I have a feeling they are saying these things because they want you to believe them. The funny thing is that the reality of the PC market is quite different from these fairy tales. If you need proof of that you need look no further than the earnings results from the two main CPU manufacturers. Intel posted a record quarter and even AMD is profitable and managed an increase in revenue over last quarter.
AMD has finally started to turn things around on their own. For a little while they were running off of the settlement that they received from Intel and we watched with interest as they dipped back down from profit to loss. However they had a rebound in Q2 and managed a $61 million in net income in Q2. For Q3 AMD has seen a very nice improvement. Their total revenue was $1.69 Billion with a 7% new income increase of just over 7% bringing the Q3 income up to 97 Million. This is a HUGE improvement over Q3 2010 where they posted a $118 Million Dollar loss. Of course this was taken care of in Q4 by the Intel settlement which let AMD post their first positive quarter in something like 5 years.
AMD’s ATi division also saw improvement where they posted a net income of $12 Million. In Q2 this division was down and posted a $7 Million loss. Right now AMD is pointing toward the Llano APUs as the reason for this increase in cash. Another factor in this (according to the AMD press release) is an increase in adoption of the AMD platform in notebooks. They specifically mention Asus, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, HP and others saying that they have globally increased their offerings with AMD APUs.
Things do look up for AMD, but there is an interesting statement in their PR which leads me to think that all is not beer and pizza. Looking at their forecast AMD is predicting only a 3% growth with a 1-2% margin of error. This means that despite the launch of a new Opteron, the new FX Series CPUs and additional OpenCL adoption they are only expecting a 1% revenue increase in Q4. This is not what I would call confidence in newly launched products. We will see if AMD is able to pull off a better increase or if the launch of Intel’s next CPU will put a damper on their Q3 increases and end 2011 for AMD on a down quarter.
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