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.

AMD By The Numbers
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  • drpepper128 - Friday, November 2, 2007 - link

    In the Netburst days Intel designed their chips from the desktop and then scaled them into the server market. At one point they also used their desktop chip to create a new laptop series of processors. As it turned out the competition with AMD proved that creating a server chip to a desktop chip was superior, but AMD still couldn’t compete well in laptop market because of Intel’s superior design. It turned out that with the power to performance ratio being important Intel’s laptop design was strong in more than just the laptop market. Intel consolidated their designs into one and made it go from the laptop to the desktop and then again to the server. This method has put Intel on top. AMD on the other hand has still not changed its ways except they now have a new team working on a laptop chip. One could say they have learned from Intel, but I believe they haven’t learned enough.

    In the article it says that AMD’s biggest loss is R&D and with two teams now designing chips this is horrible. Can AMD support two teams? Actually they have three teams if you think about graphics. I believe they should combine their processor teams into a mobile design and then work their way up much like Intel. Then there is the graphics. AMD eventually wants to combine the CPU and the GPU which I believe is a brilliant idea. When this happens the consolidation should increase profits. How can AMD not consolidate? Haven’t they learned the lessons from Intel and their own plans from graphics?

    One last thing, I think AMD should also work on integrating more and more features of the chipset into their processor, not just the memory controller.
  • SigmundEXactos - Thursday, November 1, 2007 - link

    10 years of AMD processors (since the K6) and 7 years of ATI (the original Radeon All-In-Wonder) be replaced by the end of the year with Penryn quad core & 8800GT.

    Will AMD go the way of NumberNine, Matrox, Centaur, and Cyrix?
  • Griswold - Saturday, November 3, 2007 - link

    If you dont know what to post, dont post. Matrox is still alive an kicking, just in your typical gaming market.
  • MrEMan - Sunday, November 4, 2007 - link

    If I recall correctly the Cyrix CPUs were sold off by National Semiconductor to VIA, which for the most part is no where to be seen these days.
  • Roy2001 - Monday, November 5, 2007 - link

    If I recall correctly the Cyrix CPUs were sold off by National Semiconductor to VIA, which for the most part is no where to be seen these days.
    No, VIA's lower power CPU is actually based on IDT(Centaur)'s Winchip technology, not the crappy Cyrix architecture.
  • MrEMan - Monday, November 5, 2007 - link

    Via Ready To Buy Cyrix">

    Did the deal not materialize?
  • Roy2001 - Monday, November 5, 2007 - link

    Via Ready To Buy Cyrix ...Did the deal not materialize?
    Via bought both Cyrix and Centaur division of IDT at bargain price mainly for legal purpose. However, winchip has "the small die size and low power-usage" (from wiki). New Via C7 CPU is more like a die/process shrinked Winchip, refer to Via's Centaur webpage:">

  • Calin - Monday, November 5, 2007 - link

    Maybe the VIA current line of processors? C7 and the like, for use in ultra low power devices
  • defter - Saturday, November 3, 2007 - link

    Sure and now they have 0.1% marketshare:">

    I wouldn't call that "alive and kicking". Maybe "barely alive" would be a better term.
  • Griswold - Saturday, November 3, 2007 - link

    *just not in your typical gaming market - of course.

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