Release Ship Industry's First Native x86 Quad-Core Processors In June August 31st
AMD's Stable Infrastructure Strategy Enables Availability of Systems from Platform Partners in
SUNNYVALE, Calif. -
March June 29, 2007 – Continuing to lead the industry add: shift of mainstream enterprise computing to energy-efficient processors, AMD (NYSE:AMD) announced today that Quad-Core AMD Opteron(tm) processors, code-named "Barcelona," are planned for shipment in both standard and extreme performance low power versions at launch later this summer. add: This would be the first time AMD has made both standard and low power parts immediately available as part of a new processor launch...
Due to its enhanced architecture - it is the world's first x86 CPU to integrate four processing cores on a single die of silicon - Quad-Core AMD Opteron(tm) processors can deliver significant performance and performance-per-watt
improvement enhancements over the competitors best existing processor architectures yet are designed to be backwards compatible with existing AMD Opteron platforms.
With planned availability at launch in a range of frequencies up to
2.6 2.0 Ghz, AMD expects its native quad-core processors to aggressively ramp scale to higher frequencies in Q407 in both standard and extreme performance SE (Special Edition) versions. Designed to operate the same thermal envelopes as current generation AMD Opteron processors, AMD estimates that the new processors can provide a performance increase up to 70 percent on most certain database applications and up to 40 percent on most certain floating point applications compared to the competitions best processor , add: with subsequent higher frequency processors expected to significantly add to this performance advantage.
"add: More than ever before, customers are expecting
performance energy-efficiency and performance-per-watt leadership as much as absolute performance. With this new reality of irreparable manufacturing difficulties computing, greater performance at the expense of greater power consumption is no longer achievable for AMD an option," said Hector Ruiz Randy Allen, corporate CEO vice president, Server and Workstation Division at AMD. "AMD has no other product to ship other than prioritized production of our low power and standard power products because our current technologies are limited our customers and ecosystem demand it, and we firmly believe that the introduction of our native Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor delivers will deliver on the promise of the highest levels of performance and performance-per-watt the industry has ever seen."
According to AMD, they're only releasing up to 2GHz not because their process is in a complete mess, but because the expectations of the entire market shifted into energy efficiency and performance-per-watt. AMD wants you to blame its customers for making them ship only low frequency Barcelonas. You have to agree, the spin is brilliant.
Please accept my apologies for the odd term I used to describe AMD's next generation microprocessor launch. News from the INQUIRER claims that Barcelona is set to launch sometime in September in a trickle-like manner similar to the R600 launch. Since the industry is in complete agreement that R600 wasn't a hard launch and AMD claims it doesn't do soft launches therefore, please, understand my need for a better word.
AMD plans to launch Barcelona at a measly 1.9Ghz/2.0Ghz. AMD's desperation to stop the server share erosion couldn't be more obvious. The wait to achieve target speeds appears too long and literally too costly that AMD is sacrificing the great launch for a timely launch. Everyone can now forget about the grand performance topping Barcelona entrance. AMD just wants it out. Perfect or not.
There will be frantic reviews and debate at Barcelona's launch. For AMD's sake I just hope they have at least enough 2.5GHz sent out to tech journalists. The future of this company hinges on Barcelona performance and an R600 media disaster is the last thing AMD needs. The slow speeds at launch plus the high 120W TDP on a low 2.4GHz part only spells trouble for AMD. On the other hand, we're all used to the over-promise and under-deliver rhetoric from AMD so I can't really say I am surprised.
Bit of a sad news as one of the best technology forum on the Internet is about to flip the switch.
"Just to let everyone know, our hosting agreement is ending this month and I will be decommissioning the Ace's Hardware server at the end of the week. From this point forward, the site will no longer be online, though email should still be active. I don't have a clear picture as to the immediate future of the site at this point, but there have been various ideas kicked around and plans are in development. Hopefully, the site will return at some point and begin to grow again".-Brian Neal
Hopefully the plans to revive the site (or continue the forum) on the shoulders of Johan works out fine.
How do you protect your margins from commoditization? Sell to an OEM with a proprietary product. The Apple-Intel alliance is hitting it big with healthy sequential growth rates both on the mobile and desktop segment. The money Intel makes selling to Apple is shielded from the protracted price war with AMD and should be a very useful leverage.
The May boost put Apple's laptops in fourth place, behind Hewlett Packard, Toshiba, and Gateway said Baker, and moved its combined laptop-desktop sales share from 11.6% in April to 13% last month. Separately Apple notebook sales rose to 14.3% of overall purchases from 12.5%, while desktop sales increased to 10.4% from 10.2%. In retail only, sales Apple showed a slightly smaller increase, from 9.6% to 10.8%.
Very interesting. The guys at Legit Reviews benchmarked their self-built workstation from the off the shelf S5000Xvn Intel motherboard.
And before you think that this is embarrasing for AMD, there's more:
More power for half the performance. No wonder their workstation market share is tanking.
Legit Bottom Line: Without even lauching a product line, Intel has been able to make AMD's QuadFX platform look like weak sauce thanks to their 'V8' demo systems.
From the Associated Press:
"Stifel Nicolaus analyst Cody Acree upgraded the stock to a short-term "Buy" from "Neutral," and set a $17 price target on it... "We believe the first-quarter's underperformance was not representative of AMD's true end demand and that second-quarter revenue will likely recover a portion of first-quarter's shortfall," Acree wrote in a client note."
Sounds like I was right about the Q4 channel flooding. AMD tried to make Q4 look good and as a result compounded its Q1 numbers with a double serving of poor demand and inflated inventories. AMD's Q2 results may represent slightly normalized numbers and show things aren't as bad as first thought but don't get too carried away. The numbers are still terrible.
AMD needs to post at least $1.6B revenue this quarter to break even. At the moment they're only expecting at least ~$1.2B. The trend doesn't look to be in AMD's favour as Intel is just getting ready for another round of price cuts. AMD is about to mass produce a bigger die product while Intel will start transitioning to smaller ones at 45nm next quarter. The cost/unit gap between the 2 companies will only get bigger allowing Intel to mass produce quad-core profitably.
Intel has successfully denied AMD's the ability to generate enough revenue to support 2 Fabs and it is only about to get worse. Don't be surprised if AMD cancels its Fab38 upgrade.
From the TimesUnion: AMD seeks partner for Fab
"A new report by analysts at Citigroup says Advanced Micro Devices Inc. could be looking to partner with another company on its $3.2 billion computer chip factory planned for Saratoga County -- and AMD isn't ruling it out as a possibility."
What this means in other words is that AMD can't afford to build another Fab but wouldn't want the offer to go away. It is looking for a partner to cough up anywhere from 50 to 99% of the cost of the Fab. Preferably 99% since AMD doesn't even know where to get the money to continue the much needed upgrade for Fab30. Heck AMD doesn't even know where to get the money to repair the ailing tools from Fab30.
AMD is hoping the partner is unaware so it can get 100% of the grant from the state of NY. I must admit, it's a very clever scheme.
It looks as if Q2 2007 is going to be a good quarter for the PC industry. Eric Savitz reports a strong 2nd quarter demand for the PC and PC-related components. He lists the following companies as those directly benefiting from the upturn as Intel, Nvidia, TI, Intersil and Fairchild. The following reason for the positive outlook follows:
- Demand elasticity from low DRAM and CPU pricing, cutting the bill of materials for by upwards of $100.
- Depleted IC inventory.
- Higher-than-normal build at Dell to prepare for entry into the retail market in the second half.
- Restocking at Hewlett-Packard after the company reduced inventory by more than $1 billion in its fiscal Q2 ended April.
- Intel’s launch of new Santa Rosa notebook platform.
You’ll notice that 4 out of 5 of those reasons should affect AMD in a good way. Then why is AMD not included in Eric’s list? This could be an explanation.
Mr. Douglas McIntyre thinks that AMD’s storm wrecked Q1 will only be followed by another perfect storm of lower ASP, poor demand stiffer competition from its unrelenting competitor. Q2 of 2007 should be strong quarter for the PC industry but nobody seems to have invited AMD.
It is becoming more apparent that AMD's days as an IDM are numbered.
"Covello told clients he upgraded his rating (for Intel) because AMD's likely move to an outsourced business model will create significant benefits for Intel over the longer term."
An increasingly larger chunk of AMD's volume is no longer generating enough margins to warrant in-house production. Thanks to AMD's price war and failed campaign to grab 30% market-share, the commoditisation of x86 processors was accelerated. AMD miscalculated the large performance gap Intel was able to establish with its Core2 generation of processors. Along with its cost advantage, Intel managed to protect itself from AMD's scorched earth strategy of flooding the market with sub-$100 processors.
Intel understands the danger of having a significantly sized competitor which is why it is determined to continue to put the hurt on AMD. Intel's planned price cuts next month shows its willingness to sacrifice margins in the short term to deny AMD the financial means to expand its in-house manufacturing capacity. In fact the strategy worked so well that Intel even managed to deny AMD the financial mans to run 2 Fabs on a day-to-day basis.
AMD's earning projection shows red until the end of 2008. In order for AMD to survive, it needs to outsource. You can mark this down as the beginning of the end for AMD. No semiconductor company has yet to return from outsourcing. Commoditisation doesn't allow it. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
I thought I found Scientia’s title for his latest blog very appropriate, the "Eye of the Storm". This is usually used as a metaphor for a brief respite which normally leads to a false sense of security. I had an impression that he was trying to give an explanation about AMD’s current Barcelona problems but as it turns out, his explanation was even more chaotic than reality. The trouble with Scientia’s blog has always been his position in the Intel-AMD debate. And because of his desire to defend the indefensible, stretching the imagination in the style of Sharikou is becoming a necessity for him. Either that or he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Take for instance when he wrote:
“…We know that AMD first demonstrated Barcelona November 30, 2006. This was presumably a stable Alpha chip. The earliest Conroe's were also Alpha chips and we know that it took Intel about six months to go through two revisions to get to the B1 release version. However, we also know that Intel's B1 had a minor bug that was fixed in the B2 revision, so B2 is also a reasonable assumption for production. We know too that the fastest that AMD could run off inline test chips would be 10 weeks. So, if we project this from the November 2006 demo we get:
November 30, 2006 – Stable Alpha silicon demo
February 8, 2007 – B0
April 19, 2007 – B1
June 28, 2007 – B2 (originally intended launch?)”
The alarming number of errors on this paragraph alone is giving me difficulty in trying to determine which one I want to start with. The most erroneous assumption Scientia made is his idea that silicon stepping is a standard measure that can be used as a benchmark. And what is even worse is he applied this benchmark to make a prediction for another company. What Scientia obviously doesn’t understand is that silicon stepping is a relative designation. It’s created for marketing with the purpose of creating distinctions between product/process revsions. A change in the letter signifies a major change while a change in the number is a minor change. B2 stepping doesn’t mean “launch ready”, it just means it had a minor change from B1 stepping. You have to go and read the documentation to understand specifically what was changed. It never is the same for any step for any product, let alone between Intel and AMD. To claim that Barcelona will launch at B2 just because Conroe did is the pinnacle of Scientia’s naivety.
And since we’ve established that the beginning of Scientia’s blog is grossly inaccurate I don’t see any reason to continue just to point out his mistakes. Besides, I’m not a fan of wearing down readers with lengthy posts.
Update1: AMD’s Presence in Workstations Plummets in Q1’07 - John Peddie Research
Vendor - Q2CY06 --- Q4CY06 - Q1CY07
Xeon ----- 86.7% ------ 88.9% ---- 92.0%
Opteron --- 3.3% ------ 11.1% ----- 8.0%
It looks like Intel made a brilliant move to offer Quad-core conquering the workstation segment while the competition is struggling to keep up. Once again it shows how time-to-market is key.
It looks like we'll see Penryn out before Barcelona.
I hope the FUDZILLA haters can forgive me now with these additional links:
The Tech Report
I can only imagine serious implications for AMD if this rumour is in fact true. The key to any technology business is TIMING. Forget about Cost or Quality. If the timing is off when demand picks up, also known as the "demand curve", the business is lost. The demand curve for Quad Core kicked off 6 months ago when Intel released Kentsfield and Woodcrest. AMD has paid a heavy price in server market share by having nothing to compete in this space when the high end demand shifted to Quad Core.
Delaying Barcelona will surely result to more market share erosion in the short term. But what is more significant long term is the loss of design wins AMD was hoping for this year to sustain its server business. As to the impact of the delay to Barcelona's eco-system we've already seen an example in Cray's fiscal warning. Do not brush of Crays announcement as insignificant. Cray had an axe to grind with AMD as it hedged a significant portion of its business on this product and felt let down. Making an earnings announcement 6 months in advance just shows the frustration it has with AMD's poor execution and this is something you don't see everyday. While a lot of other businesses will surely be losing money as a result of this delay, most of them won't be as vocal as Cray. But I can assure you they are losing money and they're equally frustrated. Hard lessons are being learned here about doing business with AMD... again.
I've started writing about AMD's shipping of Radeon 2400/2600 but i fell asleep. That always happens to me with pre-fragged product releases. I only wanted to point out how AMD doesn't do soft launches. I wanted to know how AMD would describe what they just did with R600. If it wasn't a soft launch and definitely not a hard launch, then what exactly is it? I can't wait for the next gobbledygook from Advanced Maker of Doublespeak.
I’ve started re-thinking my position regarding Barcelona being dead on arrival (DOA). It now looks as if that projection was a little bit too optimistic. One month from launch and AMD cannot seem to come up with a working silicon as per designed. Forget about the initially promised 2.6GHz. It looks like the scaled down promise of 2.3Ghz is also fast becoming an impossibility. AMD today demonstrated a crippled 1.6Ghz Barcelona. I don't think AMD can even make Barcelona work!
You’d think AMD won’t be stupid enough to reveal just how badly broken their process so close to launch but it appears AMD has become desperate. They forced Supermicro, MSI and Tyan to demo a server that shows its industry leading ability to boot up. If you’re a product engineer you know that these half-alive CPUs are production rejects, but AMD badly needs to demo something. I can easily imagine AMD product engineers foraging through their rubbish bins filled with tons of dead Barcelona trying to look for one that can at least boot up. It’s refreshing to know they at least found 3 for the Computex demo.
And since these are rejects, the result of the demo weren’t surprising: Barcelona shows to only match the performance of K8 while at the same time being trashed by the soon to be replaced 65nm Xeons. AMD’s promise of better performance at the same clock frequency seems achievable considering 1.6Ghz is all it can muster.
Typically technology certification demands that yield targets are met 6 months before launch to allow enough time to build inventories. AMD requires 15 weeks to build Barcelona from wafer start to device shipped. If AMD were to launch Barcelona in 7 weeks time (July) and the best they can show right now is a 1.6Ghz CPU, I can only see disaster. Delay the launch or ship a broken product. Neither one will be good for AMD.
Meanwhile just across the hall, Intel demonstrates its V8 system with 45nm Penryn at 3Ghz:
The rumoured Barcelona performance in a 4x4 config could only muster ~16K. That is of course on paper. Let's wait and see if AMD can actually make the damn things first.
From Forbes: "Cray recently became aware that there has been a delay in volume parts availability for a key component of the quad-core XT4 until later in (the fourth quarter)," wrote Northland Securities analyst Chad Bennett in a note to investors. "We believe the most logical key component is the quad core processor from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (nyse: AMD - news - people )".
Be it Barcelona or just the old K8 Opteron that's going to be delayed, it doesn't matter. AMD has let down another customer by not meeting the committed volume. If it is Barcelona that is delayed then we can assume that the rumours of process issues are most likely true. But if its Budapest that's delayed, we can also assume that AMD's mistake of loading its tiny Fab with the large die Barcelona is finally affecting its overall Fab capacity and its ability to meet promised volume. You can look at it anyway you want, the bottom line is AMD is reinforcing its horrible reputation as an unreliable supplier with its already unprofitable business platform.
Dell, Sun, ATI and just about anybody on this list knows exactly what I'm talking about. Sun has learnt its lesson of the dangers of relying solely on AMD. Expect a Crey-Intel announcement in the coming months.
We’ve heard the rumours from several sources that AMD is being targeted for a private equity buyout. While most people have negative associations with corporate takeovers, this doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing for AMD. Current global market conditions have allowed private equity investments to flourish, making it easy to raise large sums of cash at favourable rates. The general idea is to buyout an undervalued public company, take it out of the stock market, re-invest, increase its value then sell when it matures. AMD today is perceived to be undervalued relative to its capital and revenue potential. I am aware that AMD is predicted to be in the red for the next 2 years, but bear in mind that future earnings for the next 2 years are not as important in a privately held company as if it was publicly owned.
Privately owned companies do have several advantages which can benefit AMD. One that quickly comes to mind is the absence of restriction and influence of the media and the stock market in making business decisions. Management can make huge and risky decisions like build or decommision a Fab without the pressure of stock market fluctuations and negative valuation. AMD needs this at the moment as their current business model doesn’t seem to generate enough revenue to turn a profit for the next several quarters. AMD needs a major overhaul.
Another advantage privately owned companies have has something to do with the quality and effectiveness of the management. The CEO’s compensation terms are never publicly declared in a PE company. This allows the new owners to select the best people to do the job. Top level management can also be compensated generously in proportion to financial performance. The scrutiny of investors, the board nor the financial governing body does not exist in such internal affairs. The absence of publicly reporting financial results relieves CEO’s from the time consuming tasks of managing investors and the media. This leaves the CEO to focus 100% of its time to improving the company.
The timescale to improve is definite and relatively short-term. The goal of creating value for the private equity owners in the span of 3-5 years drives quick and drastic changes. Major changes that publicly owned companies wouldn’t be allowed to do without the lengthy investor consensus or board approval. In the last few quarters AMD spent a lot of time media massaging and creating PowerPoint presentation just to calm investor anxiety. The benefits of focusing only on solving internal issues are obvious.
There is one critical disadvantage for AMD if it goes private and it has to do with its long term survivability. Private equity investors typically sell the company once the rate of return on investment reaches it peak. This is typically within the 3-5 year window and for a microprocessor company, this is pretty much short-term. The main objective why PE funds engage in such activity is obviously to make money. Heavy R&D investments for future products 5 to 10 years down the line may not hold special interest to PE owners as these are long-term spending which doesn’t necessarily add value to the company at its present state when it is time to sell. This doesn’t mean that there will be absolutely no spending on R&D. It just means that it is safe to assume that Intel will care more about its long term future than a privately owned AMD which hopes to sell the company in a few years. Generally, PE investors focus on optimising mid-term value gains which in some cases have detrimental impact to the long term viability of the company.
As it stands today, AMD’s long term survivability is in danger anyway so a private buyout should be welcomed. This is the biggest reason why AMD’s stock has been slowly climbing. A PE buyout normally pays a premium. Being owned by a private equity with a bottomless cash supply should allow AMD to transform into whatever it needs to and as quickly as it wants to. For the industry watchers this can get a bit dull with AMD having less interest in public hyping. Focusing more on making money rather than gaining popularity.
It appears like AMD has found a better way of selling its mobile graphics processors... and its not using their own mobile CPU. AMD's dilemma in the mobile space is quite obvious. Turion + X2300 does not a high-end laptop make. The niche market that x2300 was designed for is securely controlled and by Intel's mobile C2D. At the end of the day, i guess it's all about making money.
AMD's link: http://ati.amd.com/buy/promotions/asusa8jr/index.html
If you're an die hard AMD fan, don't be annoyed just yet because it seems that according to AMD: "Intel Chooses ATI’s Radeon® Xpress 200 Integrated Chipset" in one of its Motherboards.
Where has pride and dignity in the industry gone to these days?