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Upgrade push could be the salvation of long struggling AMD

In business, just like in real life, companies can be a victim of expectations.   Fortunately for chipmaker Intel it handily beat the estimates of Wall Street's top researchers, reporting its best quarter ever.  On Tuesday night after the closing bell Intel reported a Q2 2010 revenue of $10.8B USD, handily topping the $10.25B USD predicted by analysts.

Chipmaker AMD, the David to Intel's Goliath, had some good news of its own on Thursday.  The company posted a net loss for Q2 2010 of only $43M USD, $110M USD less than the loss widely predicted by Wall Street.  AMD reported revenue of $1.65B USD, where analysts had predicted it to pull in only $1.54B USD.  It also posted a promising Non-GAAP earnings were $83M USD.

AMD has benefited from its success in the GPU segment, and, like Intel, by a strong upgrade cycle demand for CPUs.  AMD credits stronger demand for notebook CPUs and GPUs as a major source of its turnaround.  With its latest results, AMD inches closer to finally crawling out of the money pit it has long been languishing in.  In fact, if the current results are any indication, AMD may return to profitability within a quarter or two.  

Ultimately, AMD and Intel are being buoyed up by a strong upgrade push both in the desktop and notebook sector.  A major part of this push is thanks to Windows 7, Microsoft's latest consumer operating system that is earning unanimous praise from reviewers and customers alike.

While some worry about the upgrade craze dying down, it seems likely to continue strong for some time while so many customers still have Windows XP.  Additionally, businesses will likely slowly jump onboard the upgrade train as they look to transition to Windows 7.  If Microsoft can replicate Windows 7's success with Windows 8, the outlook for both Intel and AMD may continue to be just as rosy.



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Yehaw.
By StevoLincolnite on 7/16/2010 9:29:25 AM , Rating: 5
And I'll keep buying AMD as they continue to price great products at price points I am willing to spend.

Right now, I'm seriously eying off the Phenom 2 X6 1090T, 6 cores at the price they are offering is hard to resist!

Anyway, I hope AMD starts raking in the money, of all companies they are the ones who do keep Intel and nVidia in check with decent prices... Most of the time, can't exactly rely on Via/Cyrix/IBM or S3/Matrox/3dfx to do that anymore though...




RE: Yehaw.
By Digimonkey on 7/16/2010 10:08:07 AM , Rating: 5
I agree. I'm currently holding off on upgrading my system until some more details about bulldozer surface. A complete redesign from the ground up is always an exciting thing, especially with AMD.


RE: Yehaw.
By Cypherdude1 on 7/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: Yehaw.
By Phoque on 7/17/2010 7:09:19 AM , Rating: 2
I suggest, if you plan to use your Fermi GF100 for distributed computing, that you do it during winter if possible, and expect it to fail from electromigration breakdown or heat issues within first year of operation.

I'm happy Nvidia came out with the GF104.


RE: Yehaw.
By Cypherdude1 on 7/17/2010 8:50:29 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I suggest, if you plan to use your Fermi GF100 for distributed computing, that you do it during winter if possible, and expect it to fail from electromigration breakdown or heat issues within first year of operation. I'm happy Nvidia came out with the GF104.
I don't own nVidia's GF100 Fermi. I haven't really read any reviews on its longevity. Now that you've mentioned this, I'll look into it. I did browse Anandtech's review on the new GF104-based GeForce GTX 460:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3809/nvidias-geforce...

It seems the perfect solution for most apps, from distributed computing to the office. After the GTX 460 has been out for awhile and they've worked out all the kinks, maybe I'll buy one. It usually takes 5 months for a company to work out all the bugs.


RE: Yehaw.
By nucas on 7/17/2010 10:35:47 AM , Rating: 2
Ever done some video transcoding? Hum.... guess not
Edited HD video? nope

6 cores and more are in fact a boon to many people.

Have a nice computing day.


RE: Yehaw.
By Reclaimer77 on 7/17/2010 12:10:21 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Ever done some video transcoding? Hum.... guess not Edited HD video? nope


I don't know a whole lot of people who do that as just a hobby on their own personal PC though. Chances are if they are doing that, they are getting paid. And they are already doing that on a really nice i7 system, probably overclocked to it's hearts content too.

Point is, if you are heavy into video trans coding and editing, you probably aren't that concerned about saving a measly hundred or so bucks if you aren't getting a top performer.

I believe you get what you pay for when it comes to PC parts, most of the time. AMD could have a hit, but the price makes me suspicious that they are either cutting corners or outright undercutting and taking a loss, simply to gain market share. I'll wait for the benchmarks.


RE: Yehaw.
By Motoman on 7/17/2010 11:23:16 PM , Rating: 3
...you do realize that probably 99% of the people on this planet don't do such things?


RE: Yehaw.
By Amiga500 on 7/18/2010 5:45:04 AM , Rating: 2
You do realise the users on this website is not reflective of the wider computing base?

I'll happily wager the percentage of DT readers doing "such things" is far, far higher than the percentage of the people on this planet doing such things.

Worth bearing in mind when talking to any DT user about what they do... Personally, I could happily eat 24 cores for OpenFoam, but that is neither here nor there...
:-)


RE: Yehaw.
By Motoman on 7/19/2010 11:13:54 AM , Rating: 2
It would be interesting to see a DT poll on the subject - and while you're right that DTers are more likely to do such things, I am sure it would still be a small minority.

And besides, the point I was making was in contrast to the entire computer-owning populace...not within some niche group, whether DT or otherwise.


RE: Yehaw.
By Shadowmaster625 on 7/19/2010 1:20:55 PM , Rating: 2
This is true, but even with 6 cores it is still a slow process. It still requires you to find something else to do. We're just arguing over whether you need to find something else to do for 6 minutes, or 3 minutes.


RE: Yehaw.
By jimhsu on 7/17/2010 7:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
More and more consumer apps, in fact, do benefit from many-core processors:

- Video encoding (ever shot any home video?)
- Music encoding (MP3 ripping, converting those old CD's to FLAC)
- Gaming - more and more games; RTSes like Supreme Commander, simulations, etc
- Utilities e.g. archiving

Not to say that multi-core computing is dominant (it's far from it), but the uses for at-home computing are no longer "scientific apps".


RE: Yehaw.
By Cypherdude1 on 7/19/2010 1:02:21 AM , Rating: 3
Remember that in my original post, I said it's difficult to use all 6 cores maxed out simultaneously all the time. You can easily use a quad core, the most common desktop CPU available now, for the tasks you've listed. For most users, all 6 cores will be idle the same as with a quad core.

The only tasks you've listed which can actually utilize 6 cores are video encoding and gaming. Even then, again, most of these apps don't use all 6 cores because 6 core CPU's aren't commonplace. They simply aren't programmed for 6 cores. As others have mentioned, you're talking a very small percentage of users which can fully utilize a hex-core CPU, probably 3%, at most.

BTW, it would be difficult to max out a hex-core CPU with MP3 ripping/encoding. The actual rip is done by the DMA controller, not the CPU:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_memory_access

Only the MP3 encoding is done by the CPU. Because the optical drive can only rip 1 song at a time, only 1 core can be used. A single fast CPU core can encode a 4 minute song in less than 8 seconds. The only way to simultaneously utilize all 6 cores at 100% is to have 6 optical drives, with 6 copies of ripping apps loaded each manually assigned to a different physical core, working simultaneously. While most system tower cases can only accommodate 4 optical drives, you could still connect your fifth and sixth drive via USB (or perhaps e-SATA) but why would you want to?


RE: Yehaw.
By themaster08 on 7/19/2010 2:06:04 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Remember that in my original post, I said it's difficult to use all 6 cores maxed out simultaneously all the time.
It's not necessarily about "maxing out" your processor, although a 6-core processor would give you much more headroom for the most fundamental use of mulit-cores: multi-tasking.

Have a dual monitor setup and watch a HD movie, whilst at the same time playing one of the latest games, backing up your data and performing a malware scan, as well as running many background apps such as Steam, your browser, IM program etc. and quickly watch a quad core, or even a hex-core processor hit 100% load.

A lot of people also like to run programs such as Folding@home, SETI@home, Rosetta@home etc. which all benefit from multi-core processors.

If you don't feel the "need" for such processing real estate then the product is obviously not for you, but don't force your ideals off on everyone else. Go and buy an Atom-based computer.

It's also about better utilization of processing power. For example, a 6-core processor could utilize the same amount of processing power better than a quad core, so therefore your program will run faster and use less energy than it would with a quad core processor. That leaves headroom to do other things (as I've already mentioned) and will keep your processor cooler as it's using less energy.


RE: Yehaw.
By themaster08 on 7/19/2010 2:06:04 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Remember that in my original post, I said it's difficult to use all 6 cores maxed out simultaneously all the time.
It's not necessarily about "maxing out" your processor, although a 6-core processor would give you much more headroom for the most fundamental use of mulit-cores: multi-tasking.

Have a dual monitor setup and watch a HD movie, whilst at the same time playing one of the latest games, backing up your data and performing a malware scan, as well as running many background apps such as Steam, your browser, IM program etc. and quickly watch a quad core, or even a hex-core processor hit 100% load.

A lot of people also like to run programs such as Folding@home, SETI@home, Rosetta@home etc. which all benefit from multi-core processors.

If you don't feel the "need" for such processing real estate then the product is obviously not for you, but don't force your ideals off on everyone else. Go and buy an Atom-based computer.

It's also about better utilization of processing power. For example, a 6-core processor could utilize the same amount of processing power better than a quad core, so therefore your program will run faster and use less energy than it would with a quad core processor. That leaves headroom to do other things (as I've already mentioned) and will keep your processor cooler as it's using less energy.


RE: Yehaw.
By themaster08 on 7/19/2010 2:07:40 AM , Rating: 2
This is ridiculous. Jesus Christ, DT, when are you going to finally have a delete button?!


RE: Yehaw.
By monkeyman1140 on 7/22/2010 3:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
There was a time when pundits also asked "Are 2 cores necessary?"

Put the hardware out there and people will find a use for it, that much is a given.


RE: Yehaw.
By Da W on 7/16/2010 10:13:09 AM , Rating: 5
Wait 6 months and you'll have a war where AMD Fusion has by far the best GPU on chip and Intel Sandy Bridge will have the best CPU. This will be interesting to see how it develops. AT least for mainstreams desktops, laptops and even may be tablets, AMD might have an edge.

AMD is great stock to buy at this morning's price.


RE: Yehaw.
By Mitch101 on 7/16/2010 11:38:34 AM , Rating: 5
AMD
Next Gen video card chip comes in October with higher end late this year. - This is supposed to be a redesign from the ground up so possible major speed increase not just linear.
Quad 45 watt cpu's I believe in September or sooner? Recall reading that recently.
Fusion in September/October. GPU/CPU on a chip.
Bulldozer Q1 2011 but benchmarks might come earlier.

INTEL
Sandy Bridge coming in September - GPU/CPU on a chip. Supposedly on chip graphics are significantly faster than anything Intel has done before. Possible leaked benchmarks show that at 2.5ghz it can whip a 3.3ghz i7 chip.

I have no personal faith in GPU with the CPU but the pluses could be.
1-Video encoding greatly improved.
2-Perfect home theater chips.
3-Possibly be leveraged for Physics and it finally becomes mainstream in games.

NVIDIA - Would hate to be them.
Fermi 2 maybe? - Still too costly?
No license to make mobo chips for i7 line.
Hoping they get some design wins with mobile chips in portable devices but that's not looking so good either.


RE: Yehaw.
By pvsat581 on 7/16/2010 1:09:15 PM , Rating: 5
I am an Intel employee...its great to know that AMD is working hard and they are slowly getting out of their problems... it makes us at Intel work harder to be a better competitor....and all I can say for now is....wait for Sandy bridge :)!!


RE: Yehaw.
By Da W on 7/16/2010 2:35:15 PM , Rating: 5
As a geek, i sure hope you make something good with Sandy Bridge. But as a stock analyst, all i've seen from you is this: wait and see, where AMD has shown us a working chip at computex already.

So my reply to Intel: i'll believe it when i see it. You did tell us to wait for prescott a few years ago...

(btw i own both stocks, so i don't have a favorite, but AMD being at the bottom has the most to gain)


RE: Yehaw.
By namechamps on 7/20/2010 10:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But as a stock analyst, all i've seen from you is this: wait and see


Really. Intel has had 2 of the best qtrs in a row, back to back. Beats on revenue, margins, and earnings.

As a tech enthusiast Intel has been lackluster lately but latest and greatest doesn't always translate into $$$$. Intel has been doing an amazing job protecting margins even in the face of low cost competition from AMD and in a poor economic cycle.

Last qtr was according to their CEO the best qtr .... in the history of the company. Not really what most analyst would call "wait and see". I mean what are you waiting for a chip that turns lead into gold, flash ram that cures cancer?


RE: Yehaw.
By NubWobble on 7/17/10, Rating: -1
RE: Yehaw.
By monkeyman1140 on 7/22/2010 3:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
No thanks, I can't afford your chips Now, much less in the fall.


RE: Yehaw.
By Ammohunt on 7/16/2010 1:20:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Sandy Bridge coming in September - GPU/CPU on a chip. Supposedly on chip graphics are significantly faster than anything Intel has done before. Possible leaked benchmarks show that at 2.5ghz it can whip a 3.3ghz i7 chip.


So that means i will be able to play 3D games from 5 years ago at 30FPS on Sandy Bridge! I can't wait to dust of my copy of Cabela's Big Game hunter 2006!


RE: Yehaw.
By StevoLincolnite on 7/16/2010 12:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wait 6 months and you'll have a war where AMD Fusion has by far the best GPU on chip and Intel Sandy Bridge will have the best CPU. This will be interesting to see how it develops. AT least for mainstreams desktops, laptops and even may be tablets, AMD might have an edge. AMD is great stock to buy at this morning's price.


Unfortunately waiting 6 months means 6 months I have to keep living with this 2.1ghz Core 2 Duo, 2gb of ram, and an Intel x3100 laptop.

My advice has always been: Buy the best you can afford at the time, as there is always something better around the corner.

PLUS! With AMD's history of making newer processors work on older motherboards... (Socket AM3 processors working in Socket AM2+ and AM2 boards etc')
Well here's hoping there is an option for drop-in upgrades.


RE: Yehaw.
By lagitup on 7/16/2010 6:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
My understanding was that bulldozer, as a ground-up redesign, wouldn't be cross/backwards compatible?


RE: Yehaw.
By phazers on 7/16/2010 2:56:52 PM , Rating: 2
Actually according to today's financial news, AMD stock has been downgraded due to their delaying Llano 32nm until "1st half" of 2011, from Q1 2011. So my guess is either design problems or GF is having trouble with 1st-gen HKMG on their 32nm node.

If AMD's process lag goes up to 18 months or so, I wonder if Intel will delay their tick-tock to 22nm..


RE: Yehaw.
By theArchMichael on 7/16/2010 11:08:58 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah I think in terms of value its hard to beat AMD. Because its not just their processors that tend to be priced lower but also the motherboards based on their chipsets (for AMD cpus of course).

One minor annoyance with AMD (I haven't really checked for Intel) is the low availability of the -M (mobile low voltage version) of their processors. I don't do a lot of overclocking anymore but I was looking for something for a home server that does some video trans-coding. I settled on a X2 4400 EE, which is their energy efficient version version but I think the mobile ones are faster and use less power, although they tend to be a little more expensive.

Bottom line though I got a MB, Dual Core energy efficient processor and 4 gigs of ram (although Its x86 :-( ), and an Antec "green" power supply (350w) all for less than $150. Nothing against Intel but for the value conscious that want some performance and features as well, that's hard to beat.


RE: Yehaw.
By semo on 7/17/2010 4:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
They need to get their act together and come up with an answer to Intel's AMT. Their products are absolutely useless in the corp environment without any support for remote support of workstations.

Different story for thin clients where the servers may work out cheaper


RE: Yehaw.
By sviola on 7/19/2010 11:42:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Their products are absolutely useless in the corp environment without any support for remote support of workstations.


Really? Last time I checked Opteron chips were very popular on the server side...


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