While in San Francisco to participate at Adobe's Engage event yesterday and do some work at CNET's headquarters (CNET is the parent company to ZDNet), I stumbled up an AMD press conference at the W Hotel. At the conference, three company officials -- executive VP and chief sales and marketing officer Henri Richard, executive VP of Visual and Media Businesses Dave Orton (came through the ATI acquisition), and executive VP of the Computing Products Group Mario Rivas -- took turns at the podium to deliver a report card on how the company is doing as it manages the merger of the ATI and AMD and the integrated CPU/GPU vision associated with that merger, as well as how its doing as it transitions more fully into what could best be described as a quad-core world (the two are not mutually exclusive of each other).
The event was apparently scrambled together on short notice. It should be noted that Intel is holding a press conference of its own across town to discuss its move to 45 namometer technology as well as its progress in the area of energy efficient computing. On AMD's agenda for today's conference were three core discussions; energy-efficient processing, the company's next generation graphics and video technologies, and affordable access platforms as a part of the company's now 4 year old 50x15 initiative to bridge the digital divide. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a release-level version of which is on display here at the the press conference, is the most tangible evidence of the company's progress on that front. Among the many technology companies with a hand in the OLPC (eg: Red Hat), AMD's Geode processor is the OLPC.
But, there was one other unannaounced agenda item that served as the backdrop to today's AMD press conference: a complete an no-holds barred thrashing of Intel for a series of what AMD executives claim to be unethical business and marketing practices. Richard was barely a sentence or two into the opening of the press conference when he said "I am sick and tired of being pushed around by a competitor that doesn't respect the rules of fair and open competition."
Later in the conference, Rivas provided the backup when he discussed the benchmarks charts that Intel has been has been using to prove that its Xeon 5160 processors have a 57 percent performance advantage over AMD's Opteron 2220/SE processors. Saying Intel is using older benchmarks that were compiled with outdated compilers, the company officials referred to Intel's marketing practices as "devious" and presented alternative benchmark data that showed how, currently, the two processors are actually running neck and neck with each other. Rivas went on to project how that tie will be broken when AMD's newest Opterons will best Intel's newest Xeon processors by 42 percent in what the company claims are more honest benchmarks.
During the press conference's Q&A session, I asked Richard if he wouldn't mind going into a bit more detail about how upset he is with Intel's business and marketing practices with the video camera's rolling. During the interview, we talked about Intel, standardization in benchmarks for both peformance and energy efficiency, and also the implications to Microsoft of having millions of One Laptop Per Child PCs entering the global market without any Microsoft software on them. Here's the video of that interview: