1.26.2007

How AMD can stop playing 2nd fiddle

“You can always expect AMD to screw things up” – former AMD employee.

This may sound cruel and simplistic to some AMD followers but I am quite sure that a small part of their brain agrees with it. It is the part that AMD frustrates consistently that we’re never surprised whenever AMD falls back hard from the top. But one shouldn’t forget the other side of that coin: that AMD, in some weird way, manages to survive and occasionally demonstrate a spark of brilliance. But then they go off and celebrate and party and then the wheels on the bus go round and round.

In simple terms, AMD’s problem lies deep within the company. If all things were made equal except the employees, I think Intel will continue to stay on top.

Having worked in one of these companies and other multinational corporations throughout my career, I have seen stark differences on how people work and the way things are done within a company. Success boils down to leadership, collective confidence and the culture it tends to foster. Intel has always had great leaders that breed and cultivate a leadership culture throughout the company. Intel is comfortable leading in terms of technology or design. Intel knows it is the leader and acts accordingly. AMD’s response to leadership is quite different. When AMD is in front, it doesn’t feel comfortable and therefore not confident being in that position. This is why when AMD gets into the lead, they celebrate. When Intel gets into the lead, they get busy (except of course the last Core2Duo success – I think AMD rattled their confidence in a large way).
AMD’s execution and planning is usually designed as a response to Intel’s move. AMD needs Intel to show the way before it can start to act and sometimes design a better way. It is something that AMD doesn’t necessarily need; but then, it is something they “think” they need.
The question of company motivation is also an issue. I think AMD’s lack of consistency and momentum especially when they ahead of Intel show where the two companies are quite opposite each other.

I personally think that AMD is aware that they have a culture problem. We’ve seen them try to think differently and independently. They started off with the Athlon design, then the Hammer series. The fusion concept and the open platform management architecture are just some of the ways where AMD demonstrated leadership. It is a positive sign that they doing things their way. All they need to do now is identify themselves as deserving and worthy leaders. 30 years of being a follower is a hard habit to break, but acknowledgement of the problem is indeed the first step.

Success breeds success and hopefully when they come out on top once again, they stop trumpeting their success too much. If you want to beat a giant you need to stop letting it know you’re actually hurting it.

4 comments:

Sharikou, Ph.D said...

*sniff sniff

Anonymous said...

bull...

Scientia from AMDZone said...

I don't think AMD has a culture problem. Your description of standards is a bit off. AMD is still seeking new standards as evidenced by its direction with Pacifica and adding new instructions. If these standards are accepted and supported this will show that AMD has enough marketshare to break Intel's monopoly rather than showing anything at all about AMD's desire to lead.

Roborat, Ph. D. said...

Scientia from AMDZone said...
I don't think AMD has a culture problem...


Trust me they do. Intel carries the burden of leading the way in semiconductor technology and showing what's next. IBM's carries this same burden. AMD's job simply is to make sure its not left behind. Intel has different drive and pride in technology leadership than AMD. AMD's goal seems to me is just to out do Intel.