The recent layoffs at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) have me scratching my head. With revenue and profit growing, why is AMD laying off more people?
AMD was slowly being smothered by Intel's revenue-capping onslaught which was exposed by the New York Attorney General's lawsuit (PDF). Now that AMD is recovering (courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission's consent decree) why is it trying to lose a few more pounds? (Word is that AMD is shedding a lot of non-engineering staff.)
In 2010, it was reported that Apple was testing AMD processors in the MacBook Air. Curiously, just one year later, Intel announced a $300 Million dollar fund to help unleash an army of clones to compete with the MacBook Air. (Here's the video of Intel CEO Paul Otellini's announcement.) ZDnet UK's Jack Schofield concludes that Intel is going after the Air.
They represent Intel's attempt to take ultraportables similar to the latest versions of Apple's MacBook Air and make them mass market.
Is Intel jealously smacking its runaway bride (Apple)?
Could Apple be cozying up to AMD?
In his biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs compared Intel to a steamship noting that its graphics suck. Page 493:
We tried to help Intel, but they don't listen much. We've been telling them for years that their graphics suck... They wanted this big joint project to do chips for future iPhones. There were two reasons we didn't go with them. One was that they are just really slow. They're like a steamship...Second is that we just didn't want to teach them everything, which they could go and sell to our competitors.
What if Steve wanted to move beyond "steamship" innovation and sucky graphics?
Steve had the foresight to see that if Apple acquired AMD it would get a treasure chest of patents which would help it defend against future lawsuits (like the recent case with S3).
Most importantly, Apple would get AMD's engineering team, which has historically innovated quite well despite a limited R&D budget resulting from very limited market access due to Intel’s unusual practices. (Dell alone reportedly received $6 billion from Intel between 2002 and 2007 to not buy AMD chips. Sometimes those payments exceeded Dell’s profits.)
To hear Anton Shilov tell it, Apple's chip design team will never stack up to Intel.
Apple has never attempted to develop its own central processing units and used off-the-shelf chips for many reasons, the main of which is state-of-the-art technologies required for competitive microprocessors along with experience, patent portfolio and so on.
What do you think?
Related: Did AMD take a bite out of Intel's forbidden Apple?
[image: Maximum PC]