AMD says it won't compete against Intel in budget tablet market

AMD says it won't compete against Intel in budget tablet market

Summary: A company exec says it isn't interested in subsidizing cheap tablets like its chip rival does.

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TOPICS: Tablets, Mobility
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Intel's tablet woes may be well-documented, but it's been aggressive in attempting to increase its market share. AMD, on the other hand, has barely dipped a toe into tablets, and recent comments from company execs suggest that the company will pursue a different strategy as it attempts to break into the market.

Starting with its Bay Trail chips, Intel has made a major push to get inside Windows 8 and Android tablets, promoting low-cost models that would presumably maximize sales. Part of that promotion involves subsidizing manufacturers to use its processors.

AMD will have none of that, according to company CEO Rory Read, who said in a Q1 earnings call that the idea of such subsidies (which he referred to as "contra revenue") were something that AMD was not interested in pursuing. In fact, the firm plans to go in the other direction.

On the same call, AMD exec Lisa Su said the company is more interested in pursuing high-performance tablets instead of going the budget route -- and apparently doesn't mind missing out on those sales. "If we miss out on some units in the low end, so be it," she said.

That tablet strategy will be built around some new chips -- code-named Beema and Mullins -- that are expected to be released in the second quarter. Both will be based on AMD's Puma processing cores (either two or four) and Radeon graphics, though Mullins will consumer far less power (roughly 2 watts compared to Beema's 10 to 25 watts). These would presumably power Windows 8 tablets, especially the more potent Beema chips.

Of course, there's no guarantee that betting on the higher end of the tablet market is the best course of action, because the idea of a performance, or "pro," slate is still unproven (though Samsung is already giving it a try). Then again, AMD doesn't have the balance sheet to throw a lot of cash at device makers to spur mass acceptance like its chief rival does. That strategy is fraught, too, with low margins and threats from other chip makers attacking the low end of the market.

It remains to be seen if AMD can earn design wins for its new tablets to even put this strategy to the test. Only then can we know if betting on the high end of the market will be the right way to go as the company scrambles to make up ground with mobile devices. Do you think AMD is wise to concentrate on higher-performance tablets instead of competing with Intel for the budget market? Let us know in the Talkback section below.  

Topics: Tablets, Mobility

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Talkback

17 comments
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  • All courtesy of Google

    "Then again, AMD doesn't have the balance sheet to throw a lot of cash at device makers to spur mass acceptance like its chief rival does. That strategy is fraught, too, with low margins and threats from other chip makers attacking the low end of the market."

    Intel's mobile division has been losing money on tablet sales, and the more tablets it sells, the more money it loses. AMD cannot afford this. That is why it is taking a different route. All of this race past the bottom into the red, is courtesy of Google's continuing influence of flooring prices of software and other products, driving many players out of different markets. It is simply amazing how Google gets away with it.
    P. Douglas
    • gets away with what?

      Making devices cheaper? Where here in the states we pay 3x more for devices that without brands in Asia cost like $100..
      Jimster480
      • he had to get his rant against google in somehow

        as he gets paid (by m$) for the number of FUD mentions he makes of google.
        GrabBoyd
      • You get what you pay for.

        Those cheap brand-less devices come with the benefits of being 3 times worse in overall quality.

        Have you ever used one of those things?

        Trust me, it's a horrible experience.
        ForeverCookie
        • Getting what you pay for

          Actually a coulple years ago I purchased 2 Asus brand 8" Tablets for around $119 form NewEgg and shipped them over to Afghanistan for our Philippino housekeepers. I was amazed just how good they were. They were ARM Tablets and the intended use was for email, facebook, entertainment: youtube, music and movies. They browser was quick and snappy and the screen was excellent.

          Likely they were overstocks being sold at a discount but so what. They were superb.
          RAV555
  • I think its a good move

    Intel's budget tablets are garbage anyway. They are paying their way into the tablet marking but still getting slapped around. SnapDragon destroys Atom and all the lower cost chips are right there with atom anyway. Companies like MediaTek and Rockchip and Allwinner are going to beat Intel just as they have been. With low cost, decent or "good enough" SoC's that match or beat the performance of Intels poorly designed platform.
    Jimster480
    • intel is garbage

      they still have a chokehold on the x86 supply chain otherwise AMD, even with its financial difficulties, will put inhell out of its misery of incompetence and impotence already.

      For better or for worse, they cannot pull an AMD on qualcomm, crapple and samdung because they are even bigger than them and they rule mobile. Qualcomm is as dirty as inhell but there you have it. They cannot fight $hiite with $hiite and win.
      GrabBoyd
      • Intel is not garbage

        Intel is making the most powerful desktop and laptop computer chips and it's outselling AMD and doing much better business than them. Not to mention intel isn't loosing money like AMD. I think it's safe to say that if either of the two businesses is going to put the other out of business, it's going to be amd going out of business.
        Brock Jones
        • Remember history

          Intel is where it is partly due to the dirty tricks it played in the Pentium 4 era, if there had been a more level playing field in the late 90's, early noughties then who knows where AMD (and intel) would be now
          AJRimmer
        • Depends on how you define powerful

          AMD has withdrawn from the FX market to concentrate on the APU market. But the CPU + discrete graphics market is slowly deminishing as APU's and Intel IGP begins to make the mid-range price and performance market too difficult to compete with CPU + discrete graphics.

          In other words the APU and IGP is replacing the need to purchase an additional gpu board for medium perfromance.

          This market is loaded with profit from increased yields due to mature processes. This is where AMD can compete with APU's that Intel can not touch with HD graphics. Also Intel is seriously hampered by a lack of it's own discrete GPU to stimulate the developement of IGP. Intel is redesigning rather than evolving downward as nVidia nad AMD can do.

          But way do folks always look at competion in terms of absolutes? The point of competition is not to drive it out of business, but rather to keep your own company innovative. Remove all competition and Intel ends up failing as well.

          As an IT consumer AMD is the best friend you ever had. Do you really think that Intel would be releasing 4gig Devils Canyon anytime in this decade for less than $2000 a copy without AMD pushing it to compete? Intel though that it had AMD knock flat these last few years, that is why ARM blind sided them and bit them in the ass. Intel never saw ARM coming. Because they were obsessed with trying to destroy AMD. And now that obsession is causing them to spend $BILLIONS in the tablet space to earn $MILLIONS.
          RAV555
    • I don't know about this.

      Intel has money and puts a lot money into R&D, AMD hasn't been able to keep up with the core series very well because of this. The atom lineup has seen some serious increases with the past to models. Clover trail was a huge step up over its predecessor, and bay trail is an even bigger step. If they continue improvement and can beef up the GPUs in the atom lineup a bit Intel has a good shot at getting real traction in the tablet market. If all else fails they could start making arm chips as well. Given their fabrication abilities that would have the potential be a big threat to well established arm manufacturers like NVIDIA and Qualcomm.
      thewags05
      • AMD Incompetence.

        AMD has been around for over 4 decades, the past two have been mired with incompetence and poor business decisions. They have had some great opportunities and great hardware but when they occur they do not capitalize. They over-invest, under produce, or simply stands still. From the K6 to the original Athlon 64 to the ATI acquisition and integration.... mistakes a plenty.

        Intel on the other hand has met every single challenge put forth dating all the way back to when they had to drop the hammer on DRAM in their fledgling years. I find it very hard to believe that AMD is going to trump Intel in the long run.... even when they have superior hardware they find a way to squander it.

        I want AMD to succeed, but how can anyone have confidence in them as a company given their track record?? About as much confidence as we have in the opinion of someone who uses words like 'Inhell' and 'Samdung' and 'Crapple'.
        SovereignTechnology
  • Android tablets will be dead by 2016.

    .
    Owl:Net
    • Android tablets will be dead by 2016.............

      Owl:Net will be dead by 2016. If we stop feeding the troll, he will die.

      I agree with many of your factual posts. Why this except to troll?
      tietchen
  • proofreading

    "That tablet strategy will be built around some new chips -- code-named Beema and Mullins -- that are expected to be released in the second quarter. Both will be based on AMD's Puma processing cores (either two or four) and Radeon graphics, though Mullins will consumer far less power (roughly 2 watts compared to Beema's 10 to 25 watts). These would presumably power Windows 8 tablets, especially the more potent Beema chips."

    Did you mean consume not consumer?
    dhays
  • AMD will be out of business in 3, 2, 1 years.

    They can't keep up, and they've fallen too far behind.

    They need a huge rescue package. Perhaps Lenovo can come to the rescue, like they did with Google's boondoggle called Moto-Mobile.
    adornoe@...
  • here's an idea

    Maybe instead of competing with ARM, they should put their development to good use: put their DX11 GPU tech up against their ARM cores, finish the HSA SDK, get Microsoft onboard with WinRT support (also, Windows Server for ARM64!!), and build some ARM64 consumer chips with Radeon DX11.x(or 12!)-class GPU cores. HSA needs to support ARM as much as it does GPU for general compute.

    Remember the Opteron-A chips that were supposed to provide 2x the compute performance over the previous generation Opteron X? Ya, it's basically gone nowhere without Windows Server support. It needs to be in commodity boxes for it to succeed, and there has to be a consumer equivalent too. This is a missed opportunity for AMD. They should lead the pack for ARM64, and their iGPU is light-years ahead of anything else on the market. With the right ARM-based, DX11+ GPU-packing SoC as a new feature product, they could mop the floor with Intel, and also put some of their innovation back into the ARM ecosystem.
    Joe_Raby