A quiet AMD isn't a good AMD, but unfortunately it's the AMD we've been left with ever since Intel started becoming more competitive. In fact, the more Intel changed for the better, the more it seemed AMD changed for the worse. Intel started bringing out better product, talking more about its plans for the future, and made a whole lot of sense in just about everything it was doing and saying. Meanwhile, AMD just seemed to freeze up; we got no disclosures of upcoming products, no indication of direction, and very little sign of the hungry, competitive AMD that took Intel on and actually won a bout.

Enough complaining, poking, and prodding eventually got us a disclosure of AMD's Barcelona architecture last year. While we appreciated the depth with which AMD gave us information on Barcelona, the product itself was over a year away when we first heard about it. With no relief in sight for AMD other than a vicious price war, we began to worry not about Barcelona, but about what would come next. Would Barcelona have to tide us over for another three years until its replacement? How will AMD compete in the mobile and ultra-mobile spaces? And how does the ATI acquisition fit into AMD's long-term microprocessor design philosophy? In fact, what is AMD's long term microprocessor design philosophy?

You see, we have had all of these questions answered by Intel without ever having to ask them. Once or twice a year, Intel gathers a few thousand of its closest friends in California at the Intel Developer Forum and lays out its future plans. We needed the same from AMD, and we weren't getting it.

When Intel was losing the product battle late in the Pentium 4's lifespan, it responded by being even more open about what it had coming down the pipeline. When everyone doubted what Intel's next-generation micro-architecture would do, Intel released performance numbers months before any actual product launch. AMD's strategy of remaining guarded and silent while it lost market share, confidence, and sales simply wasn't working. Luckily, there were a handful of individuals within AMD that saw the strength and benefit of what Intel was doing.

A former ATI employee by the name of Jon Carvill was a particularly staunch advocate of a more open AMD. He fought to bring us the sort of detail on Barcelona that we wanted, and he was largely responsible for giving us access to the individuals and information that made our article on AMD's Barcelona architecture possible. Carvill got it, and he waged a one-man war within AMD to make sure that others within the company did as well.

We thanked him dearly for helping us get the information we needed to be able to tell you all about Barcelona, but we wanted more, and he wanted to give more. He convinced the CTOs within AMD to come together and break the silence, he put them in the same room with us, and he told them to tell us just about everything. We learned about multiple new AMD architectures, new chipsets, new directions, and nearly everything we had hoped to hear about the company.

Going into these meetings, in a secluded location away from AMD's campus, we honestly had low expectations. We were quite down on AMD and its ability to compete, and while AMD's situation in the market hasn't changed, by finally talking to the key folks within the company we at least have a better idea of how it plans to compete.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be able to share this information with you; today we start with a better understanding of the ATI acquisition and its impact on AMD's future CPU direction. We will look at where AMD plans on taking its x86 processors and what it plans to do about the ultra mobile PC market. And of course, we will talk about Barcelona; while AMD has yet to let us benchmark its upcoming processors, we can feel that our time alone with the CPU is nearing. We've got some additional details on Barcelona and its platform that we weren't aware of when we first covered the architecture.

The Road to Acquisition
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  • Regs - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Tight lipped does make AMD look bad right now but could be even worse for them after Intel has their way with the information alone. I'm not talking about technology or performance, I'm talking about marketing and pure buisness politics.

    Intel beat AMD to market by a huge margin and I think it would be insane for AMD to go ahead and post numbers and specifications while Intel has more than enough time to make whatever AMD is offering look bad before it hits the shelves or comes into contact with a Dell machine.

    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Apparently Intel suspects something is going on as well. One look at the current prices of the E6600 C2D should confirm this, as its currently half the price of what it was a month ago. Unless, there is something else I am missing, but the Extreme CPUs still seem to be hovering around ~$1000 usd.


    Intel cut the price of all the C2D processors by one slot in the tree - the Q6600 to the former price of the E6700, the E6700 to the former price of the E6600, the E6600 to the former price of the E6400, etc. Anandtech covered this a month or so ago after AMD cut prices.

    quote:

    After a while this could be a problem for the consumer base, and may ressemble something along the lines of how a lot of Linux users view Microsoft, wit htheir 'Monopoly'. In the end, 'we' lose flexability, and possibly the freedom to choose what software that will actually run on our hardware. This is not to say, I buy into this beleif 100%, but it is a distinct possibility.


    I wonder as well. Will it be relatively easy to mix and match features as needed? Or will the offerings be laid out that most people end up paying for a feature they don't want for each feature they do?
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    quote:

    I wonder as well. Will it be relatively easy to mix and match features as needed? Or will the offerings be laid out that most people end up paying for a feature they don't want for each feature they do?


    Yeah, its hard to take this peice of 'information' without a grain of salt added. On one hand you have the good side, true integrated graphics (not this shitty thing of the past, hopefully . . .), with full bus speed communication, and whatnot, but on the other hand, you cut out discrete manufactuers like nVidia, which in the long run, we are not only talking about just discrete graphics cards, but also one of the best/competing chipset makers out there.
    Reply
  • Regs - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    The new attitude Anand displays with AMD is more than enough and likely the whole point of the article.

    AMD is changing for a more aggressive stance. Something they should of done years ago.

    Reply
  • Stablecannon - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    quote:

    AMD is changing for a more aggressive stance. Something they should of done years ago.


    Aggressive? I'm sorry could you refer me to the article that gave you that idea. I must have missed while I was at work.
    Reply
  • Regs - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Did you skim?

    There were at least two whole paragraphs. Though I hate to qoute so much content, I guess it's needed.

    quote:

    Going into these meetings, in a secluded location away from AMD's campus, we honestly had low expectations. We were quite down on AMD and its ability to compete, and while AMD's situation in the market hasn't changed, by finally talking to the key folks within the company we at least have a better idea of how it plans to compete.



    quote:

    There's also this idea that coming off of a significant technology lead, many within AMD were simply complacent and that contributed to a less hungry company as a whole. We're getting the impression that some major changes are happening within AMD, especially given its abysmal Q1 earnings results (losing $611M in a quarter tends to do that to a company). While AMD appeared to be in a state of shock after Intel's Core 2 launch last year, the boat has finally started to turn and the company that we'll see over the next 6 - 12 months should be quite different.

    Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    What is there that is getting anyone excited to upgrade to a new system? We need faster processors and GPUs? Sure, so we can play better games. That's it?

    Now we can do HD content. I would be much more excited about that except it is encumbered to the bone by DRM.

    I just wish we had a competent processor that only needs a heatsink to be cooled.

    quote:

    AMD showed off the same 45nm SRAM test vehicle we saw over a year ago in Dresden, which is a bit bothersome.


    Not sure what you are saying since over a year ago they would have been demoing perhaps 65nm cells, but whatever.

    And as far as Intel reacting, they are already on overdrive with their product releases, FSB bumps, updating the CPU architecture every 2 years instead of 3, new chipsets every 6 months, etc. I guess when you told people we would have 10ghz Pentium 4's and lost your creditbility, you need to make up for it somehow.

    Then again, if AMD shows off benchmarks, what good would it do? The desktop varients we can buy are many months away.
    Reply
  • Viditor - Saturday, May 12, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Not sure what you are saying since over a year ago they would have been demoing perhaps 65nm cells, but whatever

    In April of 2006, AMD demonstrated 45nm SRAM. This was 3 months after Intel did the same...
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    To reply to myself, perhaps the Fusion project is the best thing coming. If we can have a standard set of instructions for cpu and gpu, we will no longer need video drivers, and perhaps we can have a set that works very low power. THAT, is what I want.

    Wish they talked more of DTX.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    I agree with you about only needing a heat sink, I still use Pentium IIIs in most of my machines for exactly that reason. I also prefer slotted processors to the lame socketed ones, but they cost more and are unnecessary so I guess they aren't going to come back. They are so much easier to work with though.

    I wish AMD or Intel would come out with something running around 1.4 GHz that used 10 watts or less. I bought a VIA running at 800 MHz a few years ago, but it is incredibly slow. You're better off with a K6-III+ system, you get better performance and about the same power use. Still, it looks like Intel and AMD are blind to this market, or minimally myopic, so it looks like VIA/Centaur is the best hope there. The part I don't get is why they superpipeline something for high clock speed when they are going for low power. It seems to me an upgraded K6-III would be better at something like this, since by comparison the Pentium/Athlon/Core lines offer poor performance for the power compared to the K6 line, considering it's made on old lithography. So does the VIA, and that's what it's designed for. I don't get it. Maybe AMD should bring it back as their ultra-low power design. Actually, maybe they are. On a platform with reasonable memory bandwidth, it could be a real winner.
    Reply

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