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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  • sprockkets - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Yeah, and the cheapest CPU I ever bought was an AMD Sempron for $29. Reply
  • goinginstyle - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    So with your logic, if the reviews about Barcelona end up being positive and glowing then we know AMD paid off the reviewers? Reply
  • R3MF - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    I am delighted to hear that AMD is on the bounce, as i have always cheered for them.

    With the exception of my current C2D PC, i have always bought AMD rigs:
    1.2GHz Thunderbird
    1.7GHz Thoroughbred
    2.0GHz Athlon 64
    2.0GHz Athlon X2

    So no-one will be more than happy than I to be able to return to the fold, with a shiny new AMD quad-core.

    However, if you expect me to buy AMD powered chipsets and graphics cards, then AMD had better pull their socks up on linux support.

    I buy nvidia chipsets and graphics cards not because they make better hardware than AMD/ATI, but because i know that i have excellent support in the form of BOTH windows and linux driver support.

    Sort that out and I may become an entirely AMD devotee.

    If AMD sticks with cack linux drivers along with scuppering nVidia support, then I will wave goodbye to AMD and buy a second Intel/nVidia rig in Autumn this year.

    Best of luck AMD, I want you to succeed.
    Reply
  • MrJim - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Excellent article Anand! Feels very "honest", i think many big corporations must change the way the think about transparency towards the public. Great work. Reply
  • Viditor - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    Nice article Anand...
    One point, you stated "By the middle of this year AMD's Fab 36 will be completely transitioned over to 65nm"...
    Not to pick nits, but didn't AMD just recently announce that all wafer starts were now 65nm at Fab 36? (or are you speaking of wafer outs...?)
    Reply

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