The Business of Technology: AMD Q3 2007by Ryan Smith on November 2, 2007 1:00 PM EST
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In the first part of our Business of Technology double-header, we took at look at Intel, who had a great 3rd quarter, but is navigating concerns of slowing growth. For the second part of our look at the CPU titans, we'll take a look at AMD, a company who isn't sharing in such a rosy financial outlook.
AMD is very much the yang to Intel's yin (or the other way around if you prefer), being the other major producers of x86 processors and the only other producer to actively target the high-end. Furthermore with the acquisition of ATI last year, AMD is now also NVIDIA's counterbalance. This puts AMD in interesting and critical position of keeping both of the big players in check, a difficult task at times.
AMD is in some ways still a company trying to grow in to its place in the market. We have reviewed their products for as long as they have existed, but on the CPU side specifically, for all practical purposes they're not on the same level of an old, established player like Intel is. AMD has produced CPUs for a over 30 years, but the first 19 of those years were as an Intel clone manufacturer. 1996 saw the release of their first in-house design, the K5, unfortunately it and its successor the K6 both underperformed compared to the best Intel chips of the time.
If we want to talk about AMD as a completely competitive force in the x86 market, we're looking at a scant 8 years; it wasn't until the K7 in 1999 that AMD produced a chip that could beat Intel in performance on the desktop. It wasn't until even later, 2003, that AMD finally made a meaningful break in to the server market, finally cementing their place as Intel's peer in the x86 market.
In their limited years as Intel's peer, AMD has done some amazing things, but they have also had to learn how to operate a business like a major player, something that has been difficult for them. Intel has lost money only on a handful of years, a good year for AMD since their emergence as a true x86 competitor has simply been to not lose too much money. AMD is still a raw business, sometimes for the better, other times for the worst. Yet we can't understate just how important they've been for the x86 industry.
Today we'll take a look at the business and technology aspects of AMD for Q3 2007. Q3, like the rest of 2007 has been extremely painful for AMD; we'll dive in to what's going on that has caused so much pain for what may be the most important GPU/CPU manufacturer on the competitive market, and what AMD is doing over the next quarter to reverse their fortune.