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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  • TA152H - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Actually, I do have an idea on what AMD had to do with it. You don't. If you know anyone from Microsoft, ask about it.

    Even publicly, AMD admitted that Microsoft co-developed it with them.

    By the way, when was the last time you used AMD software? Do you have any idea what you're talking about, or just an angry simpleton?
  • rADo2 - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Oh man, AMD copied, in fact, all Intel patents, due to their "exchange". They copied x86 instruction set, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, and many others. Intel was the first to come up with 64-bit Itanium.

    And AMD is/was damn expensive, while it had a window of opportunity. My most expensive CPU ever bought was AMD X2 4400+ ;-)
  • fic2 - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    What does the 64-bit Itanium have to do with x86. Totally different instruction set.

    And what would the Intel equivalent to your X2 4400+ have cost you at the time? Or was there even an Intel equivalent.
  • rADo2 - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    "What does the 64-bit Itanium have to do with x86" -- Intel had 64-bit CPU way before AMD, a true new platform. AMD came up with primitive AMD64 extension, which was not innovative at all, they just doubled registry and added some more. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    You mean - A 'primitive' 64BIT CPU that outpeformed the Intel CPU in just about every 32BIT application out there. This was also one reason why AMD took the lead for a few years . . . Reply
  • fitten - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    It was actually pretty smart on AMD's part. Intel was trying to lever everyone off of x86 for a variety of reasons. AMD knew that lots of folks didn't like that so they designed x86-64 and marketed it. Of course people would rather be backwards compatible fully, which is why AMD was successful with it and Intel had to copy it to still compete. So... it's AMD's fault we can't get rid of the x86 albatross again ;) Reply
  • TA152H - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    AMD had no choice but to go the way they did, there was nothing smart about it. They lacked the market power to introduce a new instruction set, as well as the software capability to make it a viable platform.

    Intel didn't even have the marketing muscle to make it an unqualified success. x86 is bigger than both of them. It's sad.
  • rADo2 - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    I bought X2 because I wanted NVIDIA SLI (2x6800, 2x7800, 2x7900, etc.) with dualcore, so Pentium D was not an option (NVIDIA chipsets for Intel are even worse than for AMD, if that is possible).

    X2 was more expensive than my current quadcore, Q6600, and performed really BAD in all things except games.

    I hated that CPU, while paying about $850 (including VAT) for it. For audio and video processing, it was a horrible CPU, worse than my previous P4 Northwood with HT, bought for $100, not to mention unstable NVIDIA nForce4 boards, SATA problems, NVIDIA firewall problems, etc.

    I never want to see AMD again. Intel CPU + Intel chipset = pure godness.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    SO, by your logic, just because a product does not meet your 'standard' ( which by the way seem to be based on 'un-logic' ), you would like to see a company, that you do not like, go under, and thus rendering the company that you hold so dearly in your mind, a monopoly.

    Pray AMD never goes under, because if they do go away, your next system may cost you 5x as much, and may perform 5x worse, and there will be nothing you can do about it.

  • TA152H - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Not only that, but HP had more to do with the design than Intel. Reply

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