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AMD Businesses Hardware

AMD: What Went Wrong? 497

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-enough-cowbell dept.
Barence writes "In 2006, AMD could seemingly do no wrong. Its processors were the fastest in the PC market, annual revenue was up a record 91%, expansion into the graphics game had begun with the high-profile acquisition of ATI, and it was making exciting plans for a future where it looked like it could 'smash Intel's chip monopoly' for good. Now the company is fighting for its very survival. How did AMD end up surrendering such a advantageous position – and was it given an unfair shove on the way down? This article has plotted AMD's decline, including the botched processor launches, the anti-competitive attacks from Intel and years of boardroom unrest."
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AMD: What Went Wrong?

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  • Products (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:22PM (#39086587)

    It's really simple--Intel made better products. Once Intel abandoned the dead end of the Pentium 4 and changed tacts with the first low-power Core chip, AMD never had a valid response. The article details some predatory behavior on the part of Intel which was eventually settled, but I don't think the outcome would be different today had that not occurred.

    Of course, Intel better watch its back with ARM around.

    • Re:Products (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:30PM (#39086635) Journal

      AMD made good products too, they just made them for the wrong market. This is why commercial semiconductor manufacturing is so difficult. You give your engineers a set of constraints and then about 5 years later you have a product. Intel, back around 2003, bet heavily on laptops and power-conscious servers. AMD bet on desktops. Intel's market predictions were better and so the products that they brought to market turned out to be the ones customers wanted by the time the related products made it to market. AMD's were not. Of course, Intel only made this bet after seeing how badly they'd underestimated the importance of power consumption with the Pentium 4 so, if anything, their later products were an overreaction to the poor performance of the P4.

      So, in summary, AMDs problem was that they didn't screw up the previous generation, so assumed that the next one could be more of the same and missed the industry shift to mobile devices.

      • Re:Products (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Nimey (114278) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:57PM (#39086849) Homepage Journal

        Also Intel bribed big OEMs to use their processors instead of AMD's. Dell was an especial example of this: in the K7/K8 days they'd make noise every year or two about how they were considering selling AMD-based systems rather than being exclusively Intel, and those of us in IT who wanted /better/ computers would get very excited, but then Intel reliably came along and gave Dell an even better sweetheart deal on their CPUs, which was probably Dell's objective the whole time.

        It wasn't AMD's fault for choosing the wrong market; they'd made a far better desktop and mobile processor than the P4, it was just that Intel was abusing its market position.

        • Re:Products (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:06PM (#39086899)

          Dell was an especial example of this: in the K7/K8 days they'd make noise every year or two about how they were considering selling AMD-based systems rather than being exclusively Intel, and those of us in IT who wanted /better/ computers would get very excited

          Um, if you wanted better computers, why did you keep buying from a company which didn't sell them?

          This is the problem with the whole 'evil Intel' argument; you're assuming that customers would continue to buy second-rate products when they could buy better PCs from another company. When AMD released AMD64 they owned much of the server and workstation market and most of the high-end desktop market, because if you cared about CPU performance you didn't buy an Intel space-heater.

          • Re:Products (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MurukeshM (1901690) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:17PM (#39086945)

            Maybe the GP wanted laptops. Not much choice there.

          • Re:Products (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Sir_Sri (199544) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:57PM (#39087249)

            If you want to buy 5000 computers every year how many companies can you buy from?

            If you want to buy one computer a year you can build your own for all it matters. If you want 1 computer every 5 years you probably don't have the desire or skills to build your own, nor is saving that small amount of money worth it for a lot of people.

            When apply either of those two constraints Dell IBM and HP were the big dogs for a long time, and they were basically in bed with intel. People who don't have the skills to build their own want to buy from someone with a name brand who will stay in business long enough to honour a warranty, and people who want to buy 5000 computers this year are only going to buy from a big outfit, for basically the same reasons, and because there aren't a lot of places that can supply you will 1000 computers by the end of the week. If you're a really big outfit you're looking at buying something like 20-100k computers a year, and when you start talking numbers like that even your acer, asus and toshiba guys will have trouble keeping up.

            AMD has the same problem in two different sectors. They had one really good product, and then someone released a better one. In the GPU business AMD will have the best parts for a couple of month then nvidia will come along and take the crown, and neither of them are competing in the high volume business desktop market that intel has (and has gone so far as to put it into the CPU package). For the CPU business Intel has been toying with them for at least 6 years. How do you know that? Because you can overclock an i7 (or a core 2 series) by 30% on air easily. Everytime AMD gets close to matching the performance/watt, performance/dollar or whatever, intel just ups the clocks a bit and boom, they're back in first place. They're basically a full process (die size) ahead of AMD, and they always have been, which gives them a huge advantage. In the GPU business AMD is doing as well as they can, if you look at the steam numbers they're up around 40% of the market. The problem is that the gaming market, which is where the money is on a per unit basis, isn't all that big. nVidia has a revenue of about 3.7 Billion USD, AMD 6.4, and Intel 54. The money is in volume, and AMD can't get volume because their price per unit, per performance, per watt are all just not up to match Intel, yes, Intel was anti-competitive for a while, but they only need to do that for about 4 years to get themselves back out into the lead by a wide margin.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          This seems to be a repeating pattern in both hardware and software.

          Some big name entity makes noise about going with the "little" man supplier, and then their old compatriot casually pass them a back room deal to make them stick with the old compatriots products. I swear, corporate contracts really need to be out in the open, or else they undermine democratic principles.

          • by russotto (537200)

            Some big name entity makes noise about going with the "little" man supplier, and then their old compatriot casually pass them a back room deal to make them stick with the old compatriots products. I swear, corporate contracts really need to be out in the open, or else they undermine democratic principles.

            You make it sound like it's shady, but it's not. That's just negotiation. There's nothing wrong with a company lowering its prices to respond to a threat from a competitor.

            • I'm guessing you didn't read about the Dell lawsuit. Even Michael Dell was on the scopes and had to pay a hefty fine. Dell reported quarter by quarter profits increasing their stock price in a kind of two-tiered Enron scheme with Intel. At the same time companies like Compaq and HP had to merge their companies and sell with razor-thin margins, while IBM sold their PC division to Lenovo.
        • Re:Products (Score:5, Interesting)

          by lightknight (213164) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:27PM (#39087031) Homepage

          It certainly didn't help that computer manufacturers have treated AMD as a budget CPU for many years. Looking back through history, a fair number of AMD CPUs were actually superior to Intel CPUs, but when paired up with crap motherboards and computer manufacturer's attempt to nickle and dime everywhere they could (emulated sound card? why not, it won't tax the CPU that much; (supposedly, in a few cases) emulate part of the video card using the CPU? why not, that won't tax the CPU much), Since the CPU is so overtaxed dealing with things it should not, you get crap performance, and begin to associate that brand of CPU with crap in general.

          If I were a major computer manufacturer these days, I'd spec in AMD CPUs (Black Editions, etc.), then attach a self-contained coolant system to it, and crank it until it reached the temperatures that the i7 normally operates at. The $500 in cost savings would appeal to my customers, and I'd be able to price my competitors out of the market. If I spec'ed in SSDs for the primary OS, and a large media drive for what-have-you, and let potential customers test-drive it, they'd change their minds about Intel in a week. Tackling Intel's marketing arm is something of a b*tch, from what I understand.

          • by benow (671946)
            You just described my computer. I've been doing heaving lifting, and very happy with it for the last few years...
          • Re:Products (Score:5, Insightful)

            by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:08PM (#39090185)

            If I were a major computer manufacturer these days, I'd spec in AMD CPUs (Black Editions, etc.), then attach a self-contained coolant system to it, and crank it until it reached the temperatures that the i7 normally operates at. The $500 in cost savings would appeal to my customers, and I'd be able to price my competitors out of the market.

            A core i7 2700k (unlocked for overclocking) only costs $369 on Newegg ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115095 [newegg.com] ). Pair it with the most expensive LGA 1155 motherboard they have at $339 ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131760 [newegg.com] ), and you're paying $708. Do you mean to tell me that you can get an equivalently powerful AMD processor, with a motherboard with similar features, for less than $210?

            Now what if I were to tell you that you can get a motherboard that ticks all the same boxes as the other one, for $129? ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157271 [newegg.com] ). That brings the total cost down to $498. Could you please enlighten me on how it is possible to *save* $500 by building an AMD solution instead of Intel, when the Intel option is less than $500, at retail ?

            The only consumers spending over $1000 on a CPU are the folks with too much money and not enough brains. And while you can spend that much on an extreme edition 6-core Intel processor, you're forgetting that it's also overclockable, by about 30%, and that you'd really be pushing things if you tried to get an FX6 running stably at 4.5GHz. You'd also be forgetting that unless something is massively parallel, the i7 still retains a performance edge over the bulldozer architecture. Chiefly, though, you'd be forgetting that for 99% of what you do, you'll never see the difference between the i7 2700 and the FX6, except perhaps that the ability to use a small SSD as a cache drive to improve spinny platter drive performance, something that's built into the Intel Z68 motherboard chipset and, at least last I checked, didn't exist on the AMD platform, would actually give the i7 a boost in real world usage, for significantly less price (pair a 32GB SSD with a 3TB spinny platter drive, and you get the write speed of the SSD, coupled with the capacity of the spinny platter drive). You may see a performance increase in things like video encoding, depending on the software you're using, but it's not going to get you any more frames per second in Skyrim. And truthfully? When I rip a DVD, I queue up the transcode in Handbrake before I go to bed, set it to turn the computer off when it's done, and don't really care if it finishes 2 minutes earlier.

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          But that was a long time ago, and AMD was poised for a comeback in the early 2000s. It was the Conroe architecture in late 2006, and everything after it, that caused all of AMD's current woes.

        • The CEO of Intel always said he wanted to be the McDonalds of CPUs. That is, efficient produce mass quantity of CPUs. They spent far more on the manufacturing facilities then AMD. Whenever you here Intel people speak almost always focus on their Fab plants, not their chips.

          So, you are going against the a company that's 10 times your size and can produce large run of chips cheaper then you. Intel could always discount it's chips more then AMD and still have more money then Intel.

          The only way AMD could stay a

          • by timeOday (582209)
            Right, the question isn't "what went wrong at AMD," but, "how did AMD challenge Intel for a major product cycle during the 00's." The answer is, Intel made some missteps around that time. But David normally does not beat Goliath. Especially not in the long run.
            • They could have if not for anti-competitive tactics. That way they could have bootstrapped production at Chartered which had a similar little used plant based on the IBM process. The AMD/Intel deal said AMD could not manufacture processors on a 3rd party outfit. So when they were capacity constrained they could not outsource production and use the windfall to buy more fabs later. They still did get enough money to make two more fabs and upgrade the old one at Dresden. They made the second fab also at Dresde
      • Actually AMD bet on servers and it won. x86.64 was a result of this. Intel still sells crap like 32-bit Atom processors. We would probably be stuck in 32-bit land today if Intel had its will fullfilled.

        Sure, they hurt on desktops, but it was no major issue. The problem was when Intel actually started making decent server processors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tqk (413719)

      It's really simple--Intel made better products.

      BS. Intel was fashionable, that's all. AMD has always been at least neck and neck with Intel if they weren't ahead of them, despite all of Intel's dirty tricks. I've been very satisfied with AMD ever since my 486DX3-100, and my Sempron and Turion based boxes just build upon that. Was Intel smart enough to buy ATI, or is it more familiar to associate them with nVidia? Need we mention Itanium? Who sold 64 bit CPUs first?

      • by JDG1980 (2438906)

        AMD has always been at least neck and neck with Intel if they weren't ahead of them, despite all of Intel's dirty tricks

        AMD was ahead of Intel between 1999, when they introduced the first Athlon, and 2006, when Intel finally shitcanned Netburst in favor of Conroe and its successors. Since then, they haven't been anywhere near "neck and neck" with Intel. They have gotten beaten decisively in everything except the low-cost sector.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:26PM (#39086607)

    Intel has had its share of buggy and bad designs, and that's even without going into discussion of the HMSS Itanic. Some AMD chips do great job of bang for the buck, my laptop has a nice dual core one that made the cost much less than comparable Intel chip would.

    Still, AMD needs to get more risky with heavy investment into more advanced design and fab. mediocrity just isn't tolerated in processor design.

    • by afabbro (33948) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:21PM (#39086987) Homepage
      Itanic is not a buggy or bad design. It's just a design without a good market. If you were doing a lot of computation where that last .01% of performance was important and you had the time/budget to write Itanium-specific assembler, you'd love Itanium (64 64-bit registers is nice). It's just solves problems that most people don't have.
      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:42PM (#39087145) Homepage

        If [..] you had the time/budget to write Itanium-specific assembler, you'd love Itanium (64 64-bit registers is nice)

        I thought one of the major problems with Itanium was that it used EPIC architecture [wikipedia.org] which relies heavily on the compiler explicitly figuring out how the parallel instructions should be scheduled (rather than the CPU itself doing this at runtime)... except that apparently such a compiler was never really written.

        (Interesting quote I just came across in the Itanium WP article [wikipedia.org] from Donald Knuth- "The Itanium approach...was supposed to be so terrific- until it turned out that the wished-for compilers were basically impossible to write".)

      • Nearly everyone on /. with the exception of true IT nerds completely don't understand why Itanium has been alive and kicking for 15+ years.

        Itanium isn't about performance, it is about INSANE reliability. There is no server product that has ever existed with as many reliability features as Itanium.

        Read and learn:

        http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/95 [hoffmanlabs.com]

        That is why it is still alive, the cost to put those features into desktop/mobile processors is too steep. If you recall, the intel Xeon server line is just beefe

  • by Ryanrule (1657199) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:27PM (#39086613)
    Intel just succeeded HUGE. They few years of AMD dominance were more a result of intels missteps. The p4 didnt clock as high as they wanted it to, so they had to scramble up a new design.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:31PM (#39086643)

      ... and then there was a small matter of Intel being accused of monopolistic behaviour, in some cases convicted, in several countries.

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:32PM (#39086649)

      Intel just succeeded HUGE. They few years of AMD dominance were more a result of intels missteps.

      Bingo. The P4 was a dead end, Intel were betting on Itanium for the 64-bit market, and AMD just kept on building better x86 chips.

      Once Intel realised they were falling behind, they dropped their brain-dead policies and pushed out better chips than AMD's.

      • by hitmark (640295) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:30PM (#39087057) Journal

        In essences what AMD was evolution vs Intels attempted revolution. They evolved x86 with a 64-bit extension rather than attempt to revolutionize like Intel went for.

        Now however the roles have switched. Intel goes for a evolution, while AMD tries for revolution with their APU concept of shifting floating point onto the GPGPU.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lightknight (213164)

        "Once Intel realised they were falling behind, they dropped their brain-dead policies and pushed out better chips than AMD's."

        Hmm. Not so much. More along the lines of they had a "Oh Shit!" moment, and cross-licensed AMD's 64-bit design (Intellectual Property swap) to get back in the game. Even Intel's earliest attempts (at a 64-bit x86 architecture) were pathetic in this area, with numerous complaints about their broken, half-assed 64-bit support (it supported, at first, only a handful of 64-bit instructio

  • by mpapet (761907) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:33PM (#39086663) Homepage

    A firm with a Monopoly has multiple, permanent advantages. That there is little/no interest in breaking it up is another story.

  • by nicholas22 (1945330) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:34PM (#39086669)
    Let's not forget the underhanded tactics that Intel used. They were forced to pay a minimal $1bn to AMD for it. I always thought its too small an amount for losing their position as leaders in the CPU market. And now look how things turned out...
    • by GerryGilmore (663905) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @04:02PM (#39087283)
      This comment, and those below, are ignoring the real, underlying issue for AMD: outsourced production. Once AMD made the decision to decouple the design and manufacturing of chips, they were dead. RTFA! Customers who want to buy AMD chips can't get their hands on them. Is that due to underhanded marketing tactics? No, poor decision-making at the top. Having worked at Intel, I've seen how the tight coupling of design, testing and production can work wonders.
    • I completely fail to see how AMD agreeing to a price and later regretting it because they sold their advantage is in any way Intel's fault or an 'underhanded tactic'..

      $1,000,000,000.00 is a lot of friggin' money. If a huge company like AMD can't make use of that much money to better their products and come out with the next new thing Intel wants to license from them in the future, then they deserve the failure they bring on themselves.

  • by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:36PM (#39086675)
    AMD's budget range is still better than Intel, when compared at a constant price against Atom
    But with the netbook/nettop market starting to flatline (or so I've heard), maybe they just made a wrong stratey decision
    Also, the botched Bulldozer launch: they should have used the no. of complete modules in the processor name, instead of the number of Integer units
    That way they wouldnt have a 6 core which was actually 3 core, but rather a 3 core which performed better in Hyperthreading than an equivalent Intel
    Getting the driver issue sorted out before launch would have helped as well
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:39PM (#39086699)

    AMD will never fail because Intel won't let it fail since it is their DOJ defence against being a monopoly. The couple of times AMD got ahead of Intel on technology, like x86-64, Intel started a money losing price war to put AMD back in its place. When AMD is struggling, Intel raises profit margins on its products to help them out. There are also less advertised ways Intel helps keep AMD afloat: Patent sharing, employee no-stealing, joint tools development like OpenAccess, etc. Having worked in that industry I was always surprised that the DOJ never came down on them for those agreements. The patent sharing and joint tools ones are official even though Intel puts like 10X more into them as AMD does. I left that industry after 5 years since I saw it as a dead end since you only have a few companies competing for your skills. As my manager at Intel told me, "I won't give you a raise since you only have one other place that would even care about the skills you picked up here, AMD and we really control them too."

    • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @05:51PM (#39088113)

      As bad as your post paints it I'm afraid the reality is even worse. The reason the DOJ has not come down on Intel is that our government has been fully captured by corporations. Intel pays its 'donations' and tells them what laws to write, what laws to enforce, blah blah blah.

      And what we end up with is not only lesser products because there is no real competition in some markets but what you experienced on a personal level. And I'll end it at that because I'm sure /.'s rabid far right wing mod squad is going to blast me down and I don't want them to take your very good post with me.

  • by spookthesunset (1562927) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:43PM (#39086737)
    AMD might have made okay CPU's but their partners made junk. You simply can't buy quality motherboards for AMD. All of it seems to be low-end crap with weird flaws. Every AMD system I have put together I wound up regretting. Things would crash randomly, freeze randomly, or just act downright strange. With Intel-based systems, I rarely have this problem (though I always pair it with a boring, plain-vanilla intel motherboard).

    Bottom line, I simply cannot recommend AMD-based systems. Sure it costs less, but you pay for it in frustration.
    • by ArcherB (796902) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:58PM (#39086863) Journal

      AMD might have made okay CPU's but their partners made junk. You simply can't buy quality motherboards for AMD. All of it seems to be low-end crap with weird flaws. Every AMD system I have put together I wound up regretting. Things would crash randomly, freeze randomly, or just act downright strange. With Intel-based systems, I rarely have this problem (though I always pair it with a boring, plain-vanilla intel motherboard).

      Bottom line, I simply cannot recommend AMD-based systems. Sure it costs less, but you pay for it in frustration.

      Strange. I was able to find a quality board for an AMD processor from several choices. I've used AMD for years and never EVER have hardware based crashes. I think the trick is to do your research, buy a name brand board and spend more than $80 for it. Yeah, I could have gone with the $30 board, but then I'd be in the same boat you're in.

      My last system was a dual core Opteron 175. Something in the system finally died after years of abuse. I don't know if it was the processor, RAM, MB or even the power supply. Frankly, I didn't care as the system had outlasted its usefulness and it was way past time for an upgrade. My current system is a Phenom II 965 with a Gigabyte board and 12 GB of name brand, PC1666 RAM. No problems whatsoever. Sure, it's not as fast as the 7-series, but I saved hundreds by going with AMD and frankly, I never wait on anything. It's still much faster than what I need.

      The processor is really not the bottleneck any more for the vast majority of people.

    • by lightknight (213164) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:53PM (#39087225) Homepage

      Asus makes Crosshair motherboards, which have been pretty freaking awesome for AMD chips, and they've done pretty well with my current motherboard, the Crosshair Formula 4. No frustration here.

      On a side note, there does appear to be some possible issues with NewEgg, however. If you check out the Crosshair V (5) section, there have been some comments with suggest that NewEgg has been recycling equipment (DOAs, and what not; many of the comments are recent), and Asus may be feeling some indirect hate for that. Personally, I've had two Corsair H70s, that were ordered as 'new' (i.e. not open-box), show up with obvious signs of previous use. I had been told, after the first incident, that it had been a mistake ("Someone must have grabbed things from the wrong pile"), but after the second incident, I am not so sure. I find this entire business to be incredibly annoying, as NewEgg has been a good supplier of equipment in times past...but I do not appreciate the problems they are causing me (Corsair has the latest H70, and is replacing it directly; still, it's taking almost a month to get this mess cleaned up).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:44PM (#39086747)

    AMD has done this many times throughout the years.

    The only reason they boom is when Intel makes a mistake. In the mid 2000's Intel bed on that crappy Pentium 4 line. This allowed AMD to gain a huge foothold. It was only temporary until Intel figured out they goofed and corrected. AMD sat on their hands and didn't invent the next thing so Intel just stomped all over them.

    This isn't the first time this has happened. The same thing happened in the days of 486 and 586's. AMD gained a huge share then lost it all as Intel corrected they're mistakes and AMD failed to continue to innovate.

    It's almost like AMD shows the way then Intel does it better. It will probably happen again assuming AMD doesn't eventually just die.

  • Intel inside (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:04PM (#39086891) Journal

    That campaign really had a lot of success. The only people who buy AMD are geeks who only do it when it gives a good price performance ratio. It does for me, going AMD simply means you can spend your budget on a fast SSD which will do a hell of a lot more for your performance then a faster more expensive intel CPU with a regular HD.

    But people like me are the exception and AMD never really managed to remove "a computer has an intel inside" from the consumers mind. Just try your local electronic store.

    Netbooks were a chance, AMD didn't put restrictions on its netbooks but they failed to push high end netbooks before Intel again stole their thunder with smart books. My netbook has got 8gb in it, it makes it a very smooth machine, just light and cheap enough to lug around and not worry about it getting dented or worse, stolen. Netbooks partially failed because they sold with slow HD's and tiny amounts of memory, hurting their performance no end.

    AMD just never had the clout to sell its chips on even terms. And it is sad because Intel dropped the ball completely when they believed they had no competition. There is a reason that 64 bit linux is report as AMD64. Intel failed and AMD delivered but for AMD to have truly broken through they need a long string of victories and no losses like Bulldozer.

    If AMD wants to succeed, they might consider something that Intel is also thinking of doing. Intel is having trouble gettings its chips into tablets and phones especially, so they have considered making their own... AMD could do a lot better getting their CPU's in PC's if they started selling them. Control the whole supply line and pass the savings on to the consumer and beat Intel and Intel Inside PC makers on price. Intel can't do that for fear of pissing of all its customers but AMD doesn't have many bridges to burn.

    Yes, making PC's is a very low margin industry but that is partly because you are buying all the parts from third parties. AMD wouldn't be doing that. The profit on the CPU inside the PC would be part of the profit of their PC. The profit on the graphics card would be part of the profits on the PC.

    Risky and unconventional but unless THEY build the PC, they are always going to have a hard time getting their CPU into the PC.

  • I read this sentence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd a r g a ud.net> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:16PM (#39086939) Homepage
    From TFA:

    Dell – then the world’s biggest PC maker – received billions of dollars to “remain monogamous” with Intel. At their peak in the first quarter of 2007, payments from Intel made up 76% of Dell’s quarterly operating income: $723 million against a total of $949 million.

    And I really wonder why Intel hasn't been gutted and salted for monopoly abuse, with its CEO and main backers arrested. How can it not be MORE clear than that ?!?

    • there are no regulators anymore. the agencies that were supposed to watch over this stuff were gutted and staffed with clueless yes men whose job was to make sure their employees didn't do their jobs.

      a few books for you:

      "The Asylum", Leah McGrath Goodman
      "The Big Short", Michael Lewis
      "The Sellout", Charles Gasparino
      "All the Devils are Here", Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera
      "Colossal Failure of Common Sense", Lawrence McDonald + Patrick Robinson
      "Lost Trust", Lang Gibson
      "Diary of a very bad year", Anonymous Hedge Fu

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @04:24PM (#39087421) Journal

    The movie character Gordon Gekko, got famous for his words "Greed is good" in the movie Wall Street, but he was wrong, and AMD has proven it - as so many others have before them, greed is indeed NOT good, it's a destroyer of all things good.

    Why?

    Because AMD was Warner Brothers when Disney always bet their money on Cute & politically correct. AMD appealed to the young student generation, the people that wanted POWER but didn't buy into the heavily advertised Intel hype. Sure - nothing wrong with Intel, I was an avid Intel fan myself, the AMD processors where notorious for overheating, and several issues on certain math performances, but AMD overcame those issues, and produced some absolutely AMAZING processors that even outperformed their competitor at a staggering 3rd of the price back then, it was a no-brainer, every geek wanted an AMD in their computers, many of them where excited about overclocking their AMD cpu's to unseen speeds, it was indeed the "rogue" choice, but people (like me) loved it, and certainly took advantage of it.

    But anyone who gets up there, get's taken by GREED, it's kind of like Nintendo who just couldn't understand why no one wouldn't pay the same price for their toy, when it was 3 times slower than the competitor, it's like Sony who simply didn't understand why no one wanted their proprietary formats and couldn't understand the need to have an open platform, when they could be in total control instead...

    Yep, story of our lives as computergeeks & users, history repeats itself, and it never fails to tell things like it is.

  • Squandered the lead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junta (36770) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @05:03PM (#39087777)

    AMD had a wonderful technical position, Intel bet the farm on Itanium and NetBurst. AMD countered with an x86 architecture that was much much more efficient than NetBurst, a 64-bit implementation that didn't break backwards compatibility, and to further embarass Intel an affordable NUMA architecture with on-package memory controllers. For all this, 'Intel Inside' *still* carried some marketing weight despite the horrible tech behind it at the time. AMD failed in two ways:
    -They failed in marketing execution to erode the value of 'Intel Inside'.
    -When they did succeed, they didn't really come up with any *new* game changing plays. Intel's QPI was catch up to hyper transport, but since then Intel has continued with superior fab technology, advancing performance per clock, more memory channels per package, and incorporating features for particular sore spots like AES and h264 encode/decode. AMD's biggest advantage at the moment is that Intel GPUs are relatively poor and the Fusion line can quite thoroughly embarrass intel at gaming. The problem being the gaming market is very comfortable with discrete GPUs and this difference matters for a relatively small slice of the market.

  • by steveha (103154) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:35PM (#39088379) Homepage

    The Intel compiler, widely regarded as the best compiler available for x86, still produces code designed to make Intel chips look better than any others.

    http://www.agner.org/optimize/blog/read.php?i=49 [agner.org]

    That page was posted three years ago. Scroll to the bottom, and read the latest additions to the discussion there: "New Intel compiler version - still the same!"

    http://www.agner.org/optimize/blog/read.php?i=49#179 [agner.org]

    This makes it difficult to be sure how much better Intel chips really are than AMD chips. When the Intel chip scores higher on a benchmark, and the benchmark includes Photoshop, was the Intel chip actually better or was Photoshop compiled with the Intel compiler?

    Sadly, I think Intel chips really are better now; given that Intel is leapfrogging past AMD on process technology, they have major advantages so their chips ought to be better.

    But I still buy AMD. Yeah, I'm giving up some increment of performance... but the chips these days are so fast, I can survive on only 90% performance or whatever. And I prefer to avoid doing business with a company that continues to sell a compiler that sabotages performance on competitor's chips.

    Personally, I would love to see AMD sell a line of processors that return "GenuineIntel" for the CPU ID, and thus run Intel compiler code at full speed. When Intel sues them, they can argue that this is necessary for full compatibility with the code produced by Intel's own C compiler. (Yeah, I know. It will never happen. It's a fun daydream but that's all.)

    Even if AMD doesn't have the top performing chips, they continue to score very well on price/performance, and the performance is good enough for me. And they are less evil than Intel. So I remain an AMD customer.

    steveha

  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:50PM (#39088491)

    HP convinced Intel that it was not going to be possible to scale performance of the x86 architecture any more, and that the only options was a new architecture that exposed massive processor resources directly to the compiler which would use its broad scope of compile-time code visibility to explicitly schedule the code optimally for execution. The result was the Itanium architecture,

    Unfortunately (for them) this turned out not to be a win, because even the best compilers can't predict what's really going to happen at runtime. They also took WAY too long to get Itanium working, and also what they were doing was pushing a hardware problem back up into software with an apparent belief that a silver bullet would be available to slay the problem of a ridiculously complicated piece of software that they needed to develop (the compiler).

    If not for the delays and one other little problem they probably would have succeeded in replacing x86 with Itanium, whether or not it was a technically viable idea.

    That one other little problem was AMD, who decided that yes you could push the x86 architecture quite a bit further along than where it was when Intel effectively abandoned it during the Itanium development. AMD pulled some rabbits out of hats and basically took over x86 development from Intel for a while. Eventually Intel was forced to get back into the x86 world in a serious way, when it became clear that AMD was going to pretty much take over the market with 100% compatible processors (and with 64-bit capability) where Intel was going to be stuck pushing an overweight, incompatible, late, and under-performing alternative.

    Unfortunately for AMD, once Intel finally got the boat turned around in the right direction, they had the money and the engineers and architects to do x68 even better, and they have proceeded to produce a series of incredibly impressive implementations which squeeze the most out of both process improvements as well as architectural advances.

    I think that without the Itanium detour there would never have been an opportunity for AMD to do what they did, but without AMD we would probably all be struggling with the baroque complexities of Itanium-powered PCs (which is too bad because then I would have been able to make lots of money hand-coding Itanium machine instructions for people :)

    G.

    • by Junta (36770)

      If not for the delays and one other little problem they probably would have succeeded in replacing x86 with Itanium

      No way was that going to happen. Intel for some crazy reason forgot that one of their *biggest* draws in x86 land was backwards compatibility. Consider the fact that even this very day most applications ship as 32-bit x86 applications. Over 10 years after Itanium's launch and 9 years after the initial availablitily of x86_64 day to day life is still largely based around x86 compatibility. PAE is a servicable workaround still for 99% of applications out there. While it sucks, we'd probably still be on

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:37PM (#39088769)
    The article looks back at the year 2006. 2006 was also the year when Apple switched to x86 computers. At the time, there was obviously the choice between AMD processors and Intel processors. And many people at the time said that Apple should have gone with AMD; we now know that would have been a big mistake.

    In 2006, AMD processors were better than Pentium 4 processors. Pentium 4 design goal was "highest possible clock rate" with complete disregard of actual performance, because customers bought GHz. AMD countered by using processor numbers. Instead of a 3800 MHz Intel chip you could buy an "AMD 3800" chip which many customers thought was the same as the Intel chip, but in reality had much lower clock speed and slightly higher performance.

    At the same time, the old Pentium 3 had much better performance per Megahertz than Pentium 4. Pentium M was a slight improvement of that, and Core Duo was again an improvement. Apple built a few Pentium 4 3.6 GHz Macs for developers. My first MacBook with 1.83 GHz Core Duo (May 2006) ran faster.

    I think with the introduction of Core Duo, and with Intel getting rid of the abomination that was Pentium 4, AMD was beaten. They just didn't know yet for a long time. Reading the description of Pentium 4 internals, all I could think was "WTF". Same with Itanium (which was WTF squared). Athlon was in comparison a clean design, which was why it performed so much better per Megahertz. So was Core Duo, and since then Intel managed to stay with clean design and improve performance bit by bit.
  • by RubberDogBone (851604) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:40PM (#39089681)

    Intel has made great success out of the different designs originating in their Israeli operations. The Core chips and others, for example. These designs gave Intel a tremendous product for years and years and made them a lot of money and made a matter of pride for Israel. This is not noticed so much in the US where nobody thinks much about where the design came from. But it matters back where the product was born.

    And it was not unnoticed by Israel's enemies the Arabs. Nor was it missed by AMD. When AMD needed funding, it went to those Arabs and played investing in AMD as both a way to make money and also a way to smack at Israel via Intel. The Arabs bit. AMD got cash and turned out some decent products and there were collaborative efforts too like the Arab investment in Ferrari which went as far as Arab firms and AMD sponsoring Ferrari's Formula-1 team. The stickers on that car tell the story.

    But the results were not enough, the fabs were woeful, and Intel came out with even more better stuff like the Core i3/5/7 series and AMD's Arab backers saw that they weren't going to win with this horse and refused to keep pumping in money with out something to show for it. They wanted a major win and got a lot less.

    The Arabs have a lot of cash but they tend to be shrewd about it and demand results. AMD failed to deliver.

    That's how AMD lost. The money to fight a war has gone away. All they can do now is fight small skirmishes.

    It's a pity. As and AMD fan, and a fan of underdogs, I wish they'd continue to stick it to the man. But at the same time, even as I think highly of my quadcore PhenomII x4 965 AMD desktop, I see it get whooped in the ratings by similar Intel products. The only place AMD is winning is in being cheaper.

  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @10:32PM (#39090015) Homepage

    First is as a Linux users I always went with AMD, most of the machines with the AMD moniker had an AMD processor and kickin nVidia graphics on-board. So most AMDs at the time just fell into the "Just Works" category.

    Now since AMD's aqisition of ATI - it's AMD with Radeon, so the "Just Works" appeal is gone. ATI support in Linux is still commonly flaky (yeah you can get it to work, but "just works" isn't the catchphrase associated with ATI.

    Second is the new branding AMD Fusion and AMD Vision - which is just as incomprehensible as intels i# labeling in my book - can't easily remember which one was betther than the other, is it Fusion or vision, and how do those stack up to a Phenom II CPU??

    AMD lost their customers because they made their customers "lost". Just this month my Linux box died... got too confused with the AMD branding so finally went with an Intel i5, made sure the MB supported PCIe and popped in my nVidia card, and am not looking back... Maybe by the next purchase they will have their ducks in a row so I can do some informed shopping... Until then, well... I just don't really know what is what with AMDs.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:16PM (#39090235)

    AMD + ATI seemed like the merger of underdogs to me.

    I think if NVidia had instead merged with AMD the result might have been stronger, also thinking that it would have NVidia CEO in the drivers seat as he seems more driven and ruthless.

    ATI would likely have been too weak to continue solo after that and might have been swallowed by Intel.

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