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AMD's Plan To Recover From Its Perfect Storm

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the volatile-you-say dept.

AMD 247

An anonymous reader writes "TG Daily has an interesting write-up on AMD's big Q1 loss and how the company plans to get back into the black. AMD admitted that Q1 was a meltdown and not just a miss. Looks like cost cutting, including layoffs, may be on the way. But the company says it won't change its overal direction. The CEO Hector Ruiz is quoted as saying, 'We are not going to change our strategy because of one lousy quarter.'"

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...because of one lousy quarter (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835549)

"It's to early, we are going to wait for a lousy year"

Re:...because of one lousy quarter (0, Troll)

rgben (1091839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835777)

That will be alright so long that the business fundamentals are being give much attention

Re:...because of one lousy quarter (3, Informative)

Rukie (930506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836151)

Hmm, I'm curious as to whether they knew that they would take a hit for Q1 but think that there will be brighter days ahead. Although, it doesn't look like they are going to be doing anything except reduce expenditures. But uhm, 600million in expenditures can't be stopped. However, their merger with ATI may help with some new technologies. Intel seems to really be putting the pressure on AMD as of late with a lot of new architectures, but if AMD can get one extremely efficient/cheap/powerful processor that can dominate the x86 market, they will recoup a lot of their market share, and possibly take some more.

I like AMD and their products, and I think that they have some new products that haven't been seen yet, but will be seen in Q2.But another beating like this, and they'll need some serious help.

And In Other News... (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836323)

Captain Smith is quoted as saying "We're not going to change direction because of one iceberg."

I like AMD and all but... (1, Funny)

empraptor (748821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835565)

The "stay the course" strategy?


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835633)

When the new fabs come online and people are getting hit with blazing 4x4's...

you will know Hector was right all along and you were FOOLS to doubt him!

Fanboi's... Kill this man quietly.

Re:I like AMD and all but... (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835799)

The "stay the course" strategy?

Why would AMD change course when they haven't even released the fruits from that course yet. The problem is not the course they're on, but how fast they are getting there.

So before you claim that their current products (the course they are on) are failures, shouldn't you wait for them to be released?

Re:I like AMD and all but... (1)

empraptor (748821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835811)

Yeah. That's what I get for not reading the article first, I guess.

Re:I like AMD and all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836515)

Clearly they should pull out now everyone is doomed!

Recover (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835569)

tar -xvf recover.tar


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835573)

The only thing more pathetic than a PC user is a PC user trying to be a Mac user. We have a name for you people: switcheurs.

There's a good reason for your vexation at the Mac's ability, granted by its architecture independence, to select the finest processors of any given generation: You don't speak its language. Remember that the Mac was designed by artists [] , for artists [] , be they poets [] , musicians [] , or avant-garde mathematicians [] . A shiny new Mac can introduce your frathouse hovel to a modicum of good taste, but it can't make Mac users out of dweebs [] and squares [] like you.

So don't force what doesn't come naturally. You'll be much happier if you stick to an OS that suits your personality. And you'll be doing the rest of us a favor, too; you leave Macs to Mac users, and we'll leave beige to you.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835661)

Yes, by all means, let's hear it for Corporate Pride.

AMD 25 Year Chart (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835591) []

Hector has done nothing for shareholder value. The man needs to go.

Ruiz CEO since 1/2000 (4, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836317)

The stock is right at where it ended the year in 1999. A great many other tech companies from that era are no more, or are trading at pennies on the dollar. Since 2000 AMD has handed Intel their hat time and again. Ruiz is doing great work.

That said, his engineers had better pull a rabbit out of their hat. Today he's getting stomped by a very angry Chipzilla, and Chipzilla looks like the type that holds a grudge for a looong time.

Re:Ruiz CEO since 1/2000 (4, Interesting)

Sammy Loo (996666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836485)

I for one welcome our rich core2duo intel-ligence overlords.

Oh and if you guys havent noticed nVidia cards are kicking serious ATI butt. the only ATI card winning in any given category is the x1400.

Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (4, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835599)

The fact that Intel could go to the C2D architecture from low-end to dual-socket server in the space of 6 months is the killer here. Even if 65 nm Barcelonas can give AMD parity on the high-end and mid-range, it'll be 9-12 months before they're all over AMD's lineup. In graphics, it's the same story. By the time R600 gets out the door, G80 will be all over Nvidia's line-up. AMD has a lot of work to do to catch-up on the speed/specs front.

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (0)

Alkivar (25833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835803)

and also the fact that AMD keeps changing socket design every new generation whereas Intel hasnt done it quite as frequently. That has to hurt, because how many people want to be forced to buy a new motherboard just to upgrade their cpu? its an additional unnecessary expense (the DDR-DDR2 socket jump by AMD doesnt really count as that was a necessary thing)

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (2, Interesting)

arodland (127775) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835965)

Well, only since Core. Before that you had Socket 3 (486), Socket 4 (Pentium), Socket 5 (Pentium), Socket 7 (Pentium), Slot 1 (Pentium II/III), Socket 370 (Pentium III), Socket 423, 478, and 479 (Pentium 4 and M and Core), and now LGA775 (Pentium 4 and D and Core 2).

In a comparable timespan, AMD used Socket 3, 4, 5, 7 (along with Intel), Socket A, Socket 754, Socket 939, AM2, and AM3. Pretty comparable overall. So the real question is, does the recent lack of change on Intel's part show a specific intent to stick with a socket, or is it just "we're improving our internals and we don't need to play with the interface right now" ?

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (4, Interesting)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836041)

Well, only since Core.
Ahh, but Core is EXACTLY the point at which I switched over to wanting Intel over AMD. Up until then it was a serious case of AMD providing better bang for the buck, but now... now... well, different story. Core 2 Duo has low energy usage, high power, great price etc. etc. It's just the only cpu I want at present.

Then moving onto graphics, I've never really had any allegiance to nVidia vs ATI, but it's hard to ignore nVidia being the only kids on the block with DX10 cards out there, including budget ones now too... with NOTHING being shown from ATI/AMD.

It really just looks like (from this purely consumer point of view over here) that AMD is being left in the dust in terms of getting out leading edge products.

I really hope they can turn it around and bring out something to make me want an AMD core and gpu, but I see nothing that makes me want to change my mind as to my intended purchases come tax time in July! :P

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (1)

WhoBeDaPlaya (984958) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836207)

I'll give you that, but when you could (can?) get an X2 3600+, 690G motherboard and some RAM for the price of a mid-range Core 2 CPU, that makes you think. Especially since the Brisbane cores can OC up the wazoo (I got 2.9GHz easy).

And the thing is (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836415)

The Core is great for everything. A high end Core 2 Duo is really fast, and fairly efficient. However that's not the only place it's good. A Core Solo is downright killer for low power laptops. It's still pretty zippy on modern apps, yet uses a very minimal amount of power. And everything in-between is covered.

That's the big thing. It's not just on the high end market AMD is having problems, it is the whole lineup, at least when it comes to processors. The Core series just rules, doesn't matter what level you are interested in them for.

It worries me. I'm an Intel fan, and have been for a long time, ever since having massive problems with Athlons back in the KT133 days, but AMD is the thing that's been forcing Intel to develop new technologies so fast. I sure don't want a single processor vendor out there for desktops. However unless they get their act together, we could be looking at that.

It's not like they have to beat Intel at every level, either. They could go the higher performance, without so much regard to power consumption route or something. But when Intel is beating you at basically everything, that just won't work.

Re:And the thing is (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836559)

That's the exact reason I really admire the Core architecture, as well as being insanely powerful, they are also very efficient in their power consumption, and being dual core (the majority that are sold), they are ready for the slew of consumer based apps (games etc.) that are taking advantage of parallelism.

Bring on tax time, I'm wanting my new gaming beast :P

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (3, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836031)

You're absolutely right... Intel hasn't changed the socket design much at all, they've just released a dozen chipsets per year, each one supporting a different subset of the processor line. At least the chips are physically compatible even though any CPU will only work in 1/3rd of the Socket-775 boards on the market. Don't think you can pop out your old 2.0ghz Northwood and replace it with a Core 2 Quad.

AMD was doing the same thing back in the Socket-A days. Newer cpus with older boards wouldn't fly, usually due to incompatible FSB clocks or voltage ranges. They rectified the situation with Socket 754/939/AM2. Pretty much any AMD cpu will work with any board for a given socket, the worst issue involved a BIOS flash on certain cheap boards that barfed on the Athlon X2's CPUIDs. They didn't really have compatibility issues with the dual-cores, they just had stupid BIOSes that refused to boot the unknown processors.

Another reality is that very few people actually upgrade just the processor, because then you're stuck with an old used CPU lying around that nobody wants to buy, unless you're very lucky and some idiot kid just happened to fry his CPU that same week. People far more commonly just sell the whole system, or at least the board, CPU and memory together as a unit, then replace it with all-new gear. What's the point in a chip manufacturer supporting same-socket upgrades if only a handful of people are doing it ? Far better to release a new chipset and socket type to avoid confusion, as long as the new board offers fresh features to justify the replacement. Socket AM2 was a bit of a blunder in that its only major feature was DDR2 memory support, which for AMD64 is rather pointless since it doesn't perform any better than 1st-gen DDR This was probably a very costly mistake for AMD because people who already owned a Socket 939 system had practically no incentive to upgrade to the new platform, which didn't offer any better performance until a full year later with AM2-exclusive high-end processors. Even that was met with derision because there was no reason why the new AM2 chips couldn't exist on 939, it was an artificial segregation.

AMD screwed up, plain and simple, while Intel finally did something right after a decade of disappointments. AMD can recover, they just have to play the leapfrogging game again, that means releasing a true quad-core processor with better performance across the entire price range than Intel's offerings. That won't be easy since Intel is again cutting prices in Q3, with the Q6600 CPU expected to fall below $250. Intel is getting ready to finish AMD off once and for all, and the only thing the crippled AMD can do is hope to pull a magic rabbit out of their ass.

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (4, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836195)

(the DDR-DDR2 socket jump by AMD doesnt really count as that was a necessary thing)

Actually, the forced switch to AM2/DDR2 has hurt AMD badly. With their on-die memory controller Athlon 64s were very efficient (97%) at using the memory bandwidth of the original DDR400 memory, but relatively poor at using DDR2 because of it's worse CAS latency.

Pushing the change to DDR2 was a clever move on Intel's part. Not only did they make AMD change their socket design, which upset their customers, the new memory also hobbles on-die memory controller, one of the key performance advantages of the Athlon design.

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836267)

This really isn't a big deal. You couldn't upgrade an AMD processor across sockets anyway because of the onboard memory controller, and you probably wouldn't want to anyway - if the new processor is so fast that there isn't a similar one available for your socket type, the old components on your existing motherboard would just slow it down.

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836183)

AMD is still winning on processor performance/price in the mid range desktop ($100-$200 for a processor), low end laptop (less than $600 for the machine), and very high end server segments (4+ sockets). That's more of the market than they currently have market share, so all they're really losing right now is the PR battle.

Re:Graphics, low end, high end, AMD is losing. (4, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836281)

so all they're really losing right now is the PR battle.

And lots of money.

Increased single-thread performance may help (5, Interesting)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835603)

Keep in mind that AMD recently greatly increased the clock frequency of their CPU's (as noted on slashdot) [] , thereby also increasing the performace of single-thread applications and games.

This may help them get back on track.

Re:Increased single-thread performance may help (4, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835719)

That wasn't a huge leap, 2.8GHz parts existed for a while now. It's also an extreme core, it runs a 120W which is 25W over the normal 95W rating. Basically, AMD is taking the cores that can be overclocked and, uh, overclocking them.

Without increasing the cache though, you're going to have the same hits to memory which, are actually going to take MORE cycles (same time period) meaning that you're actually wasting more energy. Unless your application has a very high DC and IC hit rate the improvement will be marginal. Hint: this is why performance doesn't scale linearly with clock frequency.

A 65W Opteron [that isn't a special edition] would help put them back on track. I don't recall the roadmap [been more than 6 months since I worked for AMD] but I'm sure this year is when they roll out 65nm parts [if not already]. That should definitely help both on cost and on power.

For the most part it's not about raw MIPS anymore. It's about MIPS/Watt more than anything. Intel knows this and their desktop/server cores are addressing it.


Re:Increased single-thread performance may help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836449)

What exactly did you do at AMD? What was your position?

By the way you toss out this information, I take it you weren't under an NDA. Thus it seems that your role with AMD was probably quite insignificant, and thus the information you provide is probably useless.

Re:Increased single-thread performance may help (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836599)

Mmm trolls. Well I was under NDA. Just the info I have to share here is public now. I'm roughly 6 months out since I resigned, and I can tell you even from week to week designs can change names/pinsouts/electrical.

That being said, no, I wasn't really doing anything spectacular at AMD, however, I was an AMD employee which is probably more than you can say. :-)


However (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836499)

Intel has at least one 45nm fab going online now, and they are producing engineering samples. That means that while AMD will get some gains from going 65nm, they are probably not going to be worth much since Intel will be getting similar gains from a better process.

It seems like this need a better architecture, not just a size shrink. The size shrink will just keep them at where they are now, in relation to Intel, not gain any ground.

Liked AMD ever since release X, but shoot.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835607)

Yeah, AMD and co's all will eventually succumb to that one corporate stressor...the Lemon Effect. why spend money to engineer a sweeter Kiwi fruit when you have enough copper channels on silicon to call it a good pom...okay, my analogy is a little TOO perfect, I admit...but you all had easy lives growing up in a suburb, I bet, and can't relate to me. I was confused as a child getting affection and torment from the same source, my generic brand microprocessor manager/boss/dad. don't judge.

Why don't AMD switch (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835611)

Why don't AMD switch to using Intel for their processors?
Look at how much good its done for Apple.

Re:Why don't AMD switch (2, Funny)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835669)

They can't at the moment.

They are too busy analyzing the benefits from switing to nVidia in their GPU division...

Re:Why don't AMD switch (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835671)

If AMD could get Apple to switch to their processors it would be a move in the right direction. Tough sell to switch now though, Intel can probably afford to just give the chips to Apple for the sake of marketing.

Re:Why don't AMD switch (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835941)

Why would Apple want to switch to them in the first place? Have you ever used an iMac? It has a fan that starts up for about two seconds when you power it on, and then never again. Can you build a computer like that with an AMD chip these days?

Re:Why don't AMD switch (1)

hawkbug (94280) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835969)

Yes, you can. The latest X2 chips based on 65 nm don't even get the heatsink warm that's sitting on them. They are fantastic. Granted, it was about 6 months after Intel did such a thing...

Antitrust Enforcement? (0)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835673)

Question of curiosity: Where's the DOJ on enforcing antitrust acts? Intel with an 80%+ market share seems to run afoul of the normal calculations used by antitrust rules to determine if a monopoly exists in a particular market and therefore merit a splintering. Has Intel already beat away attempts to do this?

Re:Antitrust Enforcement? (2, Insightful)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835713)

Are you talking about a strict limit on market share, over which a company is designated a monopoly? No such thing exists.

Intel is making chips with better performance per $ and per watt. What makes you think they should be punished for this?

Not so long ago, AMD was wiping the floor with Intel and gained significant market share. That alone suggests that Intel does not have exploitable control of the market.

Exploitable control (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836569)

Not so long ago, AMD was wiping the floor with Intel and gained significant market share. That alone suggests that Intel does not have exploitable control of the market.

It might suggest that. It might suggest they expended too much juice trying to float the Itanic, leaving so little for innovation in the 2-8 processor server space and desktops that AMD caught up and earned some props. Whichever, AMD is about to pull a Cyrix if they don't find the magic shortcut to 32nm without going through the intermediate steps.

The law does not prohibit monopoply. The law prohibits the abuse of monopoly to stifle competition. Intel is going to have to take great care to avoid the appearance of abuse of monopoly. The best way (and the one I expect, hurrah!) is to continue to innovate at such breakneck speed that poor little AMD just can't keep up. I hope they leave AMD enough share to limp along behind them. It might be hard to justify huge R&D budgets to the stockholders when you're completely alone in the field, and we'd go back to no progress at all in short order.

I'll take a 8 core 16W notebook cpu as soon as I can get it. Please include the chipset with eSATA and external PCIe V2.0 x32. If they must call it Centrino, please save the pc-card slot for an add-on wireless card because even my 12 yr old knows Centrino is the ancient Aramaic word for "sucky wireless." Maybe a new notebook chipset brandname? Is it too late to call the new double-the-pins socket the "T2"? That would be cute.

Re:Antitrust Enforcement? (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835783)

Having a monopoly isn't illegal. Abusing monopoly status is, but it's a long process to actually do anything about it. From 1969--1983, IBM was under suit for abusing their monoply status.

Re:Antitrust Enforcement? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835807)

The question is will consumer demand for better chips be enough to drive Intel to excel, or will AMD being less of a competitor make Intel kick its feet up and rake it in without innovation.

Re:Antitrust Enforcement? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835977)

x86-64 exists because of AMD; intel tried to go with the itanium. I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against intel :/

Not quite exactly a monopoly (3, Informative)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835851)

Intel with an 80%+ market share

In the very specific and narrow subset of "processors only used in computers (laptops, desktops and servers)".
BUT overall, the ARM is probably the most widespread architecture by far, once you exist the computers market and look for all produced processors.
In fact, if you count it as a processor, maybe the PICs are being even much more widespread than the rest.

On those markets, although Intel is also a producer of embedable RISC CPUs, it isn't the only producer.

Never underestimate the modern world of electronics where even a fridge is microprocessor-controlled.

In fact several components inside a PC or connected to it have their own RISC CPU :
- on-board target controller on harddrives, may use generic RISCs.
- most advanced host controller with real hardware acceleration (true hardware RAID) use small embed CPUs.
- Highend hardware monitor
- Advanced network card with either accelerator or even-when-turned-off-diagnosis
- Protection handling of optical drivers.
- WiFi card.
- Pretty much everything else inside your computer that has a firmware.

- the printer and its Postscript or PCL interpreter (except if it's WinPrinter)
- external enclosure with advanced functions
- the DSL router

Re:Antitrust Enforcement? (3, Informative)

Valar (167606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836363)

There's no limit on the percentage of market share you can have and still be legal. Did you know that there are some companies with 100% market share that aren't illegal monopolies (monopolies, but not illegal ones)? In fact, in some markets, monopolies form naturally (because either the market can't bear more than one firm or because there are high fixed costs associated with entering the market). So, the legal test isn't market share or number of competing companies, but rather whether the company has demonstrated an abuse of their monopoly posistion. Intel has done this in the past, and has been taken to court over it (by AMD) and lost. As a result, they had to hand over a lot of documentation to AMD and anyone else who asks for it (which is why I have seven volumes of manuals on the x86 and x86-64 ISA from Intel and a matching set from AMD).

blame apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835675)

and the decision to with intel.

Re:blame apple (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835963)

How about blaming AMD for not making a chip good enough to put in a Mac?

Re:blame apple (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835993)

Blame Apple for choosing the better manufacturer for their computers?

It's pretty clear that Apple would have had both Intel and AMD offering them a good deal on price and supply, and would have had detailed access to both company's road-maps... and they chose Intel. That was a good enough reason for me to assume that AMD's lead over Intel would be short-lived, which is precisely what we're seeing now.

Re:blame apple (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836341)

You also might want to look at the fact Apple do use AMD chips... as their video cards (ATi). I think it was merely a fact that Intel offered a better all in all package when it came to CPU/Chipset/etc than AMD could come up with. Most AMD boards are a steaming piles of dogshit, while the CPUs rock, AMD need to bring their chipset development inhouse to score better contracts like the intel/apple partnership.

Re:blame apple (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836621)

Or intel give them a deal on the cpus and this came out around the time that AMD VS INTEL law suit came out.

I KNEW IT (4, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835679)

I was at AMD during the ATI merger and I totally called layoffs in the upcoming quarter. This is what happens when MARKETING runs the company instead of the engineers. AMD makes processors, not "solutions." The moment they start to focus on the meat and potatos again and not the "whatever Intel is doing but with a green palette" the better.

Why did AMD start to eat Intels lunch? Compare the products at the time. Athlon vs. P3. Roughly equiv but the Athlon scaled, and scaled. Intel got scared and made the P4 which tanked because it was slow, drew way too much power, etc. Now that Intel has grown up a bit and caught up, AMD's answer? a 3GHz 120W core. Quad-cores in the future, etc. Where is the power savings? Where is the cheaper process? etc.

The core2 already pretty much beats the AMD64 in every measurable way. It's roughly the same in IPC, has a faster FPU, more cache, takes less power, runs cooler, etc. The only saving grace right now is HT which can help in certain applications.

Where are the lower power AMD64's for desktops/mobiles? Where are the 2MB/4MB cache parts? Where's the faster FPU? (the latter bit is coming up this year iirc)...

This isn't to say the AMD folk are bright people. The Athlon was a fairly performance driven design for the day, and the improvements in process have kept it in the running (anyone remember how hot the K7's ran?). But sadly I see AMD lagging behind Intel in both design and process for the fair length of future. Which is a shame because I've been a fanboi for a long time and would love to see AMD processors in my workstation in the future (right now it's a E6600 core2).


Re:I KNEW IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835753)

I don't really think the problem is with marketing running AMD. It surely seems engineers are running it, because the excuse the company keeps putting out is that their whole new product line is still not perfect. It seems AMD is following the engineer line of thinking, where everything has to be 105% perfect before shipping (which means two weeks after bankruptcy). Someone ought to shoot the engineers and ship what they have if they want to stand a chance.

Re:I KNEW IT (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835865)

Processors inherently need to be as perfect as can be. You can't have the processor performing computational errors. That's the biggest no-no there is in CPU design. Those are the kind of errors that will drive your customers away permantently. If they can't trust your CPUs to give them accurate results, then you're fucked up the bum.

They don't have much leeway when it comes to speed and power consumption, as this is directly where they're competing with Intel. They have to be at least as good as Intel to even have a chance at surviving. Even when they're better, it's a major struggle for them.

Re:I KNEW IT (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835815)

You seem to be correct, and I don't recall me as an observer being happy when AMD bought ATI. Too big a bite at too dangerous a time. Hell, people talk about engineers being poor managers - seems like MBA managers make the worst managers, the engineers seem vastly superior. AMD is probably not dead yet - but as with the Monty Python sketch, that is something Intel can certainly arrange by continuing on the cost-cutting.

AMD has no hope to compete in a fair fight, and Intel are far better when it comes to unfair fights. So change the arena. AMD's only real hope is to keep producing entire new twists. Not stepwise refinements - entire new directions. That's not cheap, but neither is going bankrupt. AMD's only chance lies in keeping Intel wrong-footed. Intel can outpace AMD in a straight line and will squish it flat if that's the only direction that happens.

Re:I KNEW IT (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836113)

Hell, people talk about engineers being poor managers - seems like MBA managers make the worst managers, the engineers seem vastly superior.
<rant> The only decent managers for tech companies are engineers who have all the necessary natural ability for management but don't realize it until they're thirty-five or forty. That's because there's nobody else in the world who respects engineers but doesn't fear them. All other managers are either too scared of engineers or too disdainful of them, or both. They engage in power games against their own engineers that result in bad decisions no matter who wins. </rant>

Re:I KNEW IT (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835835)

"Intel got scared and made the P4 which tanked because it was slow, drew way too much power, etc."

I'd hardly say the P4 tanked. The last of the P4s were very hot and underpowered compared to equivalent AMD chips, but I believe you'll find most PCs made in that era had Intel CPUs, not AMD; certainly when I built my current PC a few years ago the 'equivalent' Athlon chip to the P4 I ended up buying was more expensive with similar power consumption and lower performance on the benchmarks that mattered to me (e.g. video compression and 3D rendering).

AMD briefly had the technology lead over Intel with the AMD64, and could run some games faster with the Athlon against equivalent P4s, but now they've lost the lead to Intel again. I'm hoping that can at least remain competitive and profitable, because I don't want Intel to run out of competition!

Re:I KNEW IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835921)

This isn't to say the AMD folk are bright people.

You can say that again!
Er, wait...

I KNEW IT-Exit! Stage left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836003)

"I was at AMD during the ATI merger and I totally called layoffs in the upcoming quarter."

Damn! They fired the janitor. Now I'm pissed!

Re:I KNEW IT (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836091)

Same here. I'm grossly disappointed with AMD right now. They haven't done anything significant in the last 18 months, and I'm starting to read the pamphlet about the dark side. I still hate Intel chipsets with a passion, they just can't seem to cater to the power user with their lackluster features and underwhelming bus architecture, and I refuse to blow $300 on the ultra-high end consumer boards (with 2 of everything - including Intel royalties)... at that point I'd be better off getting all Xeon kit. Where is AMD's response to the Core 2 ? I have the option of buying a quad-core Intel right now, or waiting 6 months to see if Barcelona is worth a look. 6 months is a very long time in computer land, lots of stuff will have changed by then, and Intel will be waiting with the Penryn, ready to make AMD's latest offspring obsolete the day they're born.

At this point, I don't think a comeback is likely.

Not Technology, but Business (5, Insightful)

vertigoCiel (1070374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835699)

The big problem with AMD is not their processor lineup, it's their business process. They lost $600 mil on $1.2 billion on revenue. That means they needed almost two billion dollars *pinky finger to mouth* to break even. Sure, R&D is expensive, but not that expensive. They need to cut back on expenses to stay in the game.

Re:Not Technology, but Business (2, Insightful)

Tama00 (967104) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835765)

yeah why dont they cut back on research, cut back on production of cpus and cut back on marking?

If anything they should be spending more money!

But screw AMD/ATI they dont support Linux so i dont support them.

Re:Not Technology, but Business (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835991)

Why not cut back on junkets, corporate events and main stream advertising.

AMD doesn't really seem to be a corporate chip yet (At least the places here in Australia that I have seen all run Intel's) so there's no real need to break into these events with their current chips. Their marketing in Computer magazines and so forth is great, but even that doesn't really help them. My experience is that people switch to AMD when suggested by their friends. Word of mouth seems to be their biggest advertising campaign.

Spending more money, yes, but on the right area's.

My $0.02 AU

Re:Not Technology, but Business (1)

Tama00 (967104) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836241)

Yeah but did that just not back fire when word of mouth became INTEL INTEL INTEL..

thus the article about profit loss..

Re:Not Technology, but Business (1)

vertigoCiel (1070374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836225)

I think there are quite probably many places where efficiency can be improved, and thus money saved, without dramatically affecting R&D or production. Even a business as large and as research-oriented as AMD should not need $1.8 billion merely to break even. When you post $600 million losses, it's time for things like payoffs, reviewing management strategies, cutting back on freebies and extravagant public events, etc.

Re:Not Technology, but Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835853)

They lost $600 mil on $1.2 billion on revenue. That means they needed almost two billion dollars *pinky finger to mouth* to break even.

No it doesn't. They need $600 million to break even.

Re:Not Technology, but Business (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835857) []

More like $2.6 billion, if you assume that their costs for acquiring the additional revenue would be similar to existing revenue. Their problem isn't operating expenses, its that they can't charge enough for their products(or alternatively, that their competition is charging way less than they are, but it doesn't look like intel is dumping: [] ).

Re:Not Technology, but Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836163)

AMD also built a new factory. Which I imagine wasn't for free. That factory will (probably) mean more chips at lower cost, in the long run.

Re:Not Technology, but Business (2, Interesting)

Valar (167606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836303)

It also wouldn't be expensed. Profit is calculated by taking revenues and subtracting costs. Since the new factory goes on the books as an asset, and is counter balanced by reductions in other assets (cash on hand) and increased liabilities (loans), revenue accounts never factor into it.

On the other hand, it probably will lead to lower variable costs when up and running at full capacity. I'm not too familiar with AMD's financials, but it seems that the key question is whether it is that their fixed costs are dragging them down (in which case they need to either improve sales or cut some dead weight), or their variable costs (in which case they need better manufacturing processes or to raise unit prices).

Re:Not Technology, but Business (2, Insightful)

fiendy (931228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836359)

How many times do I have to say can't just assume a company will continue to make the same margin on every dollar of their revenue.

There are FIXED costs and there are VARIABLE costs. Without a more in-depth analysis, you don't know how much they will profit off a doubling of revenue.

Did the loss come from operations? Was it one-time charges? Were R&D expenses significantly higher during the year?

There is also the fact that AMD, realizing they were in for a bad quarter, nowhere near meeting targets, wanted to take a 'big bath' and make poor performance worse. Lower targets, then exceed them. There's nothing investors like more than a good recovery.

I'm not even going to bother with your suggestion that a high-tech company cut down on its R&D, suggesting that its a good long-term decision. I sincerely hope you're not responsible for any strategic or financial decisions wherever you work.

Would they change their strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835715)

... for a lousy half-dollar, then?

Ok then (1)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835727)

'We are not going to change our strategy because of one lousy quarter.'

"How many lousy quarters does it take, Hector, before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand, fifty thousand, a million? How many quarters does it take, Hector?"

Cost cutting measures.. (1)

linRicky (961271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835737)

FTA- "Looks like cost cutting, including layoffs, may be on the way" AMD has already frozen hiring this year.

mod 04 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835767)

actually... (2, Insightful)

SQLz (564901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835795)

I would change one thing. AMD should come out against DRM and refuse to make products that limit what the user can do with his/her own media.

That aught to do it (2, Insightful)

amyhughes (569088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836139)

A few dozen slashdot sales aughta fix their financial woes right quick.

One bad quarter? (0)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835813)

It it just one bad quarter thought? It should be clear to slashdotters that AMD's in deep shit now (no serious advances in processors, total lack of new graphics cards), but IIRC AMD posted a ~$550 billion loss in Q4 2006, so this isn't "just this one quarter".

Re:One bad quarter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836099)

IIRC AMD posted a ~$550 billion loss in Q4 2006

Either YRI (you remember incorrectly), or the total loss for AMD in 06Q4 is more than China's total foreign trade amount in 2001.

AMD loses a small country... (0, Troll)

Xocet_00 (635069) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836125)

$550 Billion in a quarter!

No wonder the American economy is in trouble. At this rate, in a year AMD will have blown 1/6 of the country's GDP!

Slitting our own throat (0, Flamebait)

autophile (640621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835839)

Looks like cost cutting, including layoffs, may be on the way. But the company says it won't change its overal direction. The CEO Hector Ruiz is quoted as saying, 'We are not going to change our strategy because of one lousy quarter.'

1. Get rid of people.
2. The beatings will increase until morale improves.
3. ???
4. Profit!

I've got some real serious problems with capitalism. I don't have a solution, but I recognize feces when I smell it.


Will AMD improve ATI, or will ATI ruin AMD? (4, Interesting)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835861)

>> "We are not going to change our strategy because of one lousy quarter."

Without the benefit of insider knowledge, that statement wasn't hugely informative. There are so many changes afoot that it's almost impossible to forecast anything at all concerning the CPU companies at the present time.

The acquisition of ATI really complicated things, not only for share speculators but from a tech standpoint too. And while it doesn't necessarily mean that Intel will hitch up with nVidia (it seems not, given that the GMA965/X3000 competes with nVidia's lower-end offering), it does mean that both of those companies will have to respond very strongly to whatever develops from the joining of AMD and ATI. This whole area will become even more hectic than usual I think, once we start to see the fruits of the acquisition.

One of the things that will undoubtedly be on many Linux user's minds is whether the legendary disinterest of ATI in properly supporting Linux will change for the better. Once Microsoft shed nVidia in favor of ATI on going from Xbox 1 to Xbox 360, the likelihood of any such improvement plummetted drastically for obvious reasons, but the influence of AMD could of course be the exact opposite, since AMD can't afford to alienate the Linux market, one imagines.

But while we can hope that AMD will have a positive effect on ATI's attitude towards the FOSS community, what if the opposite happens, and by being tightly coupled to GPU hardware, AMD's CPUs start to lose the openness that has been traditional among CPU manufacturers until now? It's certainly a possibility, and a matter of enormous concern.

Which brings me back to the quote from TFA. It would really help AMD I think if the company removed some of the uncertainty or ambiguity in its position FOSS as a result of the ATI thing. "No change" is a rather meaningless statement when their CPU and GPU divisions have diametrically opposite tendencies.

Re:Will AMD improve ATI, or will ATI ruin AMD? (3, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836371)

Microsoft doesn't care about linux drivers. They might keep an eye on the situation, but compare 20 million copies of Vista sold in a couple of months to the installed base of linux on the desktop, and it is clear that they aren't hugely concerned about linux on the desktop right now(and I mean to be agnostic in that statement, it is just that there is very visible evidence that Microsoft is still doing very, very well on the desktop). They certainly aren't playing games with XBox contracts, they are just going with what they think will work best.

Intel won't buy Nvidia, either because they don't get anything out of it(they cross license heavily anyway right?), or because antitrust won't let them. My impression is that intel does graphics to make sure that they can make sales at low end price points rather than for the fantastic revenues, as they have figured out that their business works better when the volume is as high as possible. I think they also benefit from being able to provide 'spec' systems that don't need a whole lot of integration on the part of a vendor.

If AMD does go towards closed, they are just going to evaporate.

One problem (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836447)

Is that recently AMD's best chipsets for desktop systems have come from nVidia. AMD themselves seems to be unwilling or unable to make desktop chipsets, and thus relies on third parties. Of those, nVidia is constantly cited by AMD heads as the one to get. This is even more the case now that nVidia owns ULi and thus the market is reduced by one.

Well, though they haven't said anything, I bet nVidia has kind of a "fuck you" attitude after the ATi buyout. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that nVidia's latest, greatest chipset is currently for Intel only, and has been for some time.

This could screw AMD over if ATi doesn't get good chipsets out the door for them. You can make the most bitchin processor you want, if you don't have a good chipset for it to run on it isn't going to be something worth buying. This is especially true for OEMs. Hobbyists might be ok with a board that doesn't really follow specs and crashes to save some dollars, but the OEMs won't have any of it.

Re:One problem (2, Insightful)

coredog64 (1001648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836553)

IMO, chipsets are what kept Intel in the game during the "craptastic" P4 era. Sure the AMD chip was better, but I had to run it on a POS Via chipset -- I've still got my P4/i850/RDRAM setup from the heady days of the Northwood 1.8->2.4 overclock and it's I/O performance is pretty damned good.

Easy answer. (4, Insightful)

sam991 (995040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835945)

1. Issue press release decrying DRM and refuse to support it at a hardware level.
2. Announce and develop proper linux support for the ATI range.
3. ???
4. Profit!

Easy to Monday night quarterback... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18835947)

But remember, the CPU space is extremely competitive. And AMD is enduring some serious pain absorbing ATI right now. Horizontal mergers like this rarely go very well, because it's extremely difficult to reconcile the business cultures. OTOH, AMD really needs ATI's chipsets so they can build up a completely power optimized mobile lineup. Laptops are where all the growth is these days, and AMD just hasn't been competing too well in that space. Not to mention their long term integration plans.

Anyway, I'd expect AMD's road to be pretty rocky for a while longer. ATI merger plus limited fab capacity plus Intel no longer fucking up equals more pain than you can imagine. Can they survive and get back to their awesome execution that carried them through K7 and K8? I sure hope so. We need this competition to keep the pace of technology improvement up.

I stopped buying amd because of ati (4, Interesting)

joe_cot (1011355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18835955)

I'm not sure if I speak for anyone else, but the reason I stopped buying amd is because of the merger with ati.

ATI has consistently made horrendous linux drivers. They don't keep up to date, and they completely abandon "legacy" cards. Nvidia cards, however, have excellent drivers for linux, and always have. For that reason, I buy Nvidia cards over ATI ones.

With this new merger, however, it's become nigh-impossible to find a decent, small laptop which has an amd processor and an nvidia graphics chipset. I ran into this problem when buying my current laptop and thought "well, they're owned by amd now, they can't be /that/ bad, right?" wrong. Therefore, if AMD is going to force me to buy an ATI chipset, while still neglecting ATI support for linux, I'm going to go elsewhere.

Intel, on the other hand, has an excellent driver for their graphics chipset, and it's even open-source. They might be the monopoly, but as far as linux is concerned, they actually seem to listen. My next laptop will be all Intel for that reason.

AMD, I've used your processors religiously for years, but if you're going to forsake your linux guys by forcing us to use ati graphics hardware with crummy drivers, don't wonder why your market share is going down. I know I'm not the only one.

The loss of 1 Linux sale is busting up AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836015)

How will AMD recover if they lose the business of 1 Linux geek out of a potential market of 50 million per year?

Re:The loss of 1 Linux sale is busting up AMD (2, Informative)

joe_cot (1011355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836093)

Read the comments here [] . There's more of us than you seem to think.

Re:The loss of 1 Linux sale is busting up AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18836339)

Hey fucktard, next time you take a bath toss a hairdryer that is plugged in and turned on into the tub with you. That way you can take yourself out of the gene pool.

Re:I stopped buying amd because of ati (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836367)

ATI has consistently made horrendous linux drivers.

Don't feel bad, the Windows drivers are pretty awful too.

Re:I stopped buying amd because of ati (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836391)

Ditto. Recently I bought an AMD 3800 X2 processor with nVidia onboard video (6150) - DVI connection on mobo :). But I *only* chose AMD because they were
    1. cheap, AND
    2. nVidia video

I would have settled for Intel graphics as well, but *never* for ATI crappoware. I learn my lesson back when with ATI and 7200 cards were top of the line. Linux forums advocated ATI because they were even helping some people write OSS drivers for Linux. We saw how that worked out - half baked drivers, never with 3D support. I still have that card in a box somewhere - replaced it with nVidia 6200 cheap card for $30 so I could get DVI output and proper video support. The $300 ATI card was a waste of money.

nVidia has good drivers. Intel has good drivers. ATI has crap drivers that do not work. I need to see the display to be able to use the computer. Sorry AMD, *very* bad choice to acquire ATI. nVidia would have been a much better choice!

AMD's Plan To Recover From Its Perfect Storm (2)

RudeBoy2932 (581531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836219)

I used to like AMD but in the last 2 years all they have accomplished is messing things up for themselves. And when they bought ATI I knew they where going to mess that up also. Thats what they get for their nickle dimeming their user base with their incremental rip-off speed boosts when intel was down they had their chance and they wasted it. I have been waiting for an new DX10 ATI All in Wonder since last Dec and ATI still hasn't released an new card in any form. So soon im going to buy a Nvidia if AMD/ATI cant get thier act together they deserve what they get.

Oh really? The same strategy that causes losses? (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836429)

"'We are not going to change our strategy because of one lousy quarter.'"

If you have a lousy quarter, it means you might have a lousy strategy and that you failed to learn from business management 101 that if you take a loss, you have to change the strategy so next quarter you won't take a loss.

In other words, if you take a loss, something is wrong. It is like having a 104 degree Fahrenheit temperature, and then doing nothing about it. Seriously, WTF?

Oh I am AMD, I have a 104 fever, so I'll do nothing about it, oh gosh, now its 105, still doing nothing maybe it will go away next quarter.

Re:Oh really? The same strategy that causes losses (1)

TehDuffman (987864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836579)

Biz 101 also till you that you have the spend money to make money and to look at the long term not the short term.

I sold my stock after they bought ATI (4, Interesting)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836509)

And it's been all downhill since.

Question: if you are an underdog in a hypercompetitive industry, when a little success comes your way and you are finally climbing out of debt, do you:

(a) Stop what you are doing and deeply indebt yourself in order to enter another cutthroat industry largely outside of your expertise?
(b) Freaking invest in your core competencies while you have the chance?

AMD did a lot of the former and a little of the latter. How long will it be until they spin off ATI at a multi-billion dollar loss?

To be fair, Intel got their act together in short order. However, I have to wonder if AMD could have maintained their lead if they weren't gathering wool. For at least 25 years, the market has continually payed through the nose for leading edge general purpose computing power, and AMD was finally beginning to grab a share of that high-margin turf - from a competitor an order of magnitude larger!

And they gave it all up for socket compatible GPUs, which, unlike the core2, are nowhere to be seen.


Time to add 0.50 SGI advantage-squandering units to AMD's tally... I hope that their accelerator gambit pays off. I hope even though I know better.

Seriously, how did you guys plan to put 512mb of multilinked DDR3 on a die + an entire video accelerator? Did you plan on doing UMA? Please tell me this isn't the unmitigated disaster it appears to be...

For some people, it's processor speed that matters (1)

Theovon (109752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836525)

AMD has never been entirely "on top", but as long as they were beating Intel, they were hot, and enthusiasts wanted AMD. Now that Intel's Core 2 is beating the Opteron in nearly every test, the speed freeks have jumped ship. The fact is, Intel is on top no matter what. So for AMD to have any kind of fighting chance at a share of the market, they HAVE to be better and faster than Intel. The underdog must beat the top dog or die.

So, if AMD's planned direction doesn't involve a CPU that beats the Core 2, I don't know how they're going to reverse their negative growth.

It not only our editors that dont RTFA (1)

Skraeling2 (1018078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836603)

Many of its products are on their weigh out and have a hard time sustaining competitive pressure.
"My processor weighs more than yours!" "So what! Mine has fewer pins; i got more pressure!"

sad (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18836617)

The company has really been doing a good job in terms of processor technology.

Maybe a company with less than 20% market share should stop sneezing at 5%+ of the market and start aggressively supporting Linux? They could start by high quality open source support for 3D graphics. They might consider driving the adoption of Linux-ready PCs and laptops through some kind of initiative (machines with working wireless, power management, 3D with open source drivers).
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