Does AMD have what it takes to make a recovery?

Does AMD have what it takes to make a recovery?

Summary: Now that the company seems stabilized, having put behind it the catastrophic losses it was posting a few years ago, AMD needs to turn things around. And I believe it has what it takes.

TOPICS: Hardware, Processors

AMD reported its first quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday and, on the whole, things aren't too bad: They reported a net loss of $20 million, beating analyst estimates.

But getting losses down to $20 million is just the start. Now that the company seems stabilized, having put behind it the catastrophic losses it was posting a few years ago, AMD needs to turn things around.

But does it have what it takes to do this?

I believe it does. AMD has spent a considerable amount of time getting its ducks in a row, and this could start to pay off soon.

  • It's diversified its board members to cover the whole gamut, from management and technology, to sales and marketing.
  • It holds the title of world's fasted GPU in the form of the Radeon R9 295X2.
  • AMD has revamped the FirePro professional graphics lineup, delivering several industry firsts, including 16GB DDR5 memory, more than 2 TFLOPS of double precision compute performance and 4K support on up to six displays.
  • As well as announcing support for Microsoft's DirectX 12, it has developed its own API called Mantle that is designed to remove bottlenecks from gaming.
  • It has the Opteron A1100 Series, the first 64-bit ARM-based server CPU built with a 28-nanometer architecture.
  • It has the AM1 platform that is aimed at the mainstream market.
  • It has made considerable in-house savings thanks to its IT and datacenter operations consolidation, a move which saved the company $8.5 million.
  • The Mullins tablet chip could finally give the company a foothold not only in the post-PC market but also the growing mini-PC market.

This gives the company quite a firm footing to drive it into profits over the coming year. One of its biggest weaknesses is that it has been too slow in getting into the mobile market, allowing companies such as Qualcomm, ARM, and Intel to flourish. Also, when it comes to GPUs, AMD is head to head against arch rival Nvidia, and any lead it holds there is likely to be temporary.

Topics: Hardware, Processors

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  • AMD has been leading in GPU's

    Its not all about GPU's total power. The number of people who buy the highest end GPU is a low number. Its about the midrange and mainstream. And in those markets they are virtually untouchable. You would have to be uninformed or a Nvidia fanboy to even consider an Nvidia card considering how far behind they are.
    • The problem with ATi [yes, that's still them]

      is that the hardware has always been top notch, but the programmers can't write decent drivers to save their souls.

      It has been this way all the way back to the original Mach 8 chips, which started them on a long path of incompatibility and errors. I no longer play games, but my son tells me that Mantle [still in beta] is not much of a solution with BF4, and we both prefer nVidia hardware, because their drivers just work.
      • Not quite...

        Battlefield 4 is a really bad example for anything, be it Nvidia or AMD. It's full of bugs and still in "beta" as many players consider today. I have systems running cards from both Nvidia and AMD and I always get a better performance/price benefit from AMD, and both companies have driver issues with some games, and some don't. I've seen games running fine on AMD long before their actual release and not working fine on Nvidia weeks after they've been launched, and the same the other way around. It's up to the game and circumstances, and I wouldn't even consider Mantle in the equation as it's hasn't even been 6 months since it came out to light. Each of them has their good stuff, but it's nonsense to say their drivers suck and Nvidia's don't.
        • If you notice

          I said since back to the days of the Mach 8 chips. [This means all the way back to Windows 3.1] It has been that long, over many more things than simply games, that ATi has had problematic drivers. In truth, I've seen many people play games with ATi cards and drivers, but then, their machines did little else, allowing them to be set up for the quirks of the drivers. With nVidia cards, general purpose computing can be done, and game play accomplished, without the problems encountered using ATi hardware/software.
        • It is true that

          price/performance ratios are in ATi's favor, but that is only true if you can tolerate the screwups which are sure to come, and the flavor-of-the-month drivers needed, where optimizing for one game breaks another.

          nVidia does similar things, but with an eye on keeping everything working.

          Also, going back to the days of Windows 3.x and 9x, it was always easier to get nVidia cards and drivers to play nicely in a system, whereas there were many times ATi cards/drivers would cause problems with hardware that would work beautifully with the removal of the ATi drivers and the insertion of the nVidia card and driver installation.

          I've seen this over 25 years, with literally thousands of machines. [yes, literally, not one iota of exaggeration]
  • Two words: Dot Net

    AMD foolishly rewrote the Radeon admin tools in .Net a long while back, at least 2006 or so.

    Microsoft started shipping the fragile .Net as part of Windows beginning with Vista, making it impossible to repair any longer when it breaks (and break it certainly does). Once .Net cracks up you can no longer use AMD's Catalyst tools (among a few other things anybody actually writes in .Net). To get it back you must reinstall Windows from dirt unless you happen to have access to install media with all service packs slipstreamed into them, a task that got harder beginning with Vista as well.

    AMD should know this. There have been plenty of howls of pain on their suport forums over the years. They can't make Microsoft wake up and it's too late to anyway. But they could STOP USING .NET!
  • AMD needs to spend some time leading

    so that the middle and lower segments of the market will take notice.

    Back when the Athlon64 was wiping up the floor with Intel's offerings, AMD could not produce enough to make a difference. Now they just might stand a chance of making a large dent in the Intel market share, but they no longer are moving on the high end. People [the majority] buy in the middle, but they pine for the high end, and just like Hemi engines sold a bunch of lesser equipped Mopars, a top end CPU could get AMD moving toward a larger share of the CPU market. Gamers lead the way, and AMD needs to heed the call.
  • Poor X86 CPU's

    AMD for years have now been making x86 CPU's with poor performance per watt profiles. Once they were on par (or even better) than intel around the P4 time but they have let that slip.

    As for their GPU offerings I've never forgiven AMD for dropping support for HD 4xxx or less for both windows and Linux. It's been Nvidia ever since, their new 7 series is excellent. Oh and intel have finally woken up to the fact that their IGPs always stank and now have iris pro.
    Alan Smithie
  • At the low price point AMD is weak

    The problem still with AMD is that they do make competitive higher end products, but lack any real success in the low end cheaper devices. Even Intel struggles with that market and frankly the AMD mobile stuff like the A4 and A6 do not measure up in CPU power. Yes, they seem intent on making great GPU power. But a lot of the PC still uses the CPU. Its like building a muscle car with a big engine but a lousy and weak transmission.
  • I hope AMD makes it, but

    their graphics have never worked well for me. I have an older desktop with an AMD cpu and integrated Nvidia graphics that has been my calculational workhorse for a number of years. I have always like the performance to cost ratio of AMD cpus even though they haven't kept up with Intel in absolute number-crunching performance. I have some engineering software that requires Java 3D that in my experience and that of the developers only works well on Nvidia graphics chips. In fact, it fails to run at all on quite a number of ATI and Intel graphics platforms. Unfortunate, but a fact of life for me. It's also no coincidence that a number of parallel supercomputers pair AMD cpus and Nvidia graphics chips.
  • At a time when all the other big and important tech companies

    are diversifying into software and services, AMD is still stuck in being a CPU and chips provider. This is not the 1990s anymore. No company can survive being "just" a hardware maker or "just" a software developer. Google and Apple and Microsoft are into everything. Apple is into everything they provide, including software to go with the hardware, along with applications. Google is sticking it's paws into anything that even remotely sounds "high tech". Microsoft is the most diversified, and they could diversify even more. AMD needs to move into other tech fields, and squeezing efficiencies out of their in-house support departments will only gain them "peanuts" for the bottom-line; it's like a pizza shop cleaning their ovens and rearranging their work-benches, while the real problem for them is the lousy pizza they make.