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Report claims AMD has hired a bank to look at selling assets, such as its patent portfolio

Reuters on Tuesday created a stir in the semiconductor side of the New York Stock Exchange when it published a report citing three sources as saying that Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), the world's second largest graphics processing unit and x86 chipmaker, hired JPMorgan Chase & Comp. (JPM) to "explore options" including "a sale".

I. Will AMD Sell Its Patents? Reuters' "Sources" Say it Might

The publication cited AMD's struggles to achieve mobile market share as a key driver of the probe.  An unwillingness to pursue mobile options is viewed as a key factor behind AMD's decision to force Dirk Meyer out of the company's chief executive spot in Jan. 2011.

But Reuters did clarify that its sources suggested AMD may merely look to sell a significant part of its patent portfolio and that a sale of the entire company was unlikely.

JPMorgan refused to comment on the rumor. But an AMD spokesperson Drew Prairie directly denied it, stating, "[AMD is] not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time.  AMD's board and management believe that the strategy the company is currently pursuing to drive long-term growth by leveraging AMD's highly-differentiated technology assets is the right approach to enhance shareholder value."

AMD sign
AMD vigorously denies rumors that it is pursuing a sale. [Image Source: AP]

That's a pretty direct denial, although the adjective "actively" could give AMD some wiggle room if it is informally probing such possibilities in secret.

AMD has posted three losses in the last year -- $157M USD (Q3 2012), $590M USD (Q1 2012), and $177M USD (Q4 2011).  AMD did post a small profit in Q2 2012 -- $37M USD.

II. Change is in Store for AMD, One Way or Another

News of a potential sale of some of AMD's assets is not the only surprising news to emerge regarding AMD in recent weeks.  The chipmaker announced two weeks ago that in 2014 it would be releasing 64-bit Opteron server chips, and potentially consumer chips based on ARM Holdings plc's (LON:ARM) proprietary reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture, a rival to x86.

The switch to ARM's Cortex-A5x series intellectual property (IP) cores could save AMD on engineering overhead.  Versus the company's current monolithic complex instruction set computer (CISC) x86 cores, which are designed entirely in house, AMD's will only have to tweak, improve, and otherwise performance tune the IP-cores from ARM.

AMD has not announced plans to discontinue development of monolithic x86 cores, but given the high costs and AMD's continual struggles with profit, it would not be surprising to see AMD make that move once it jumps on the ARM train.  For now, AMD's greatest market success is leveraging its GPU product in CPU+GPU "accelerated processing units" (APUs), which have been scoring many laptop design wins.

The chipmaker is also gaining ground on rival Intel Corp. (INTC) in the server market.  While Intel's products do win on lightly threaded loads, AMD's latest Piledriver (Opteron 6400 series) cores beat out Intel's offerings in heavily threaded loads.  When you factor in AMD's cheaper prices, the company's server line is appearing very attractive to large clients; particularly those who actively run virtualized data centers or perform parallel computing.

AMD server
Despite losses, AMD is gaining ground in the server market. [Image Source: Reuters]

The world's most powerful computer is indeed powered by AMD's Opteron 6200 Series chips.

Source: Reuters



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

AMD would be nuts to dump x86
By maugrimtr on 11/15/2012 8:43:25 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The switch to ARM's Cortex-A5x series intellectual property (IP) cores could save AMD on engineering overhead. Versus the company's current monolithic complex instruction set computer (CISC) x86 cores, which are designed entirely in house, AMD's will only have to tweak, improve, and otherwise performance tune the IP-cores from ARM.

AMD has not announced plans to discontinue development of monolithic x86 cores, but given the high costs and AMD's continual struggles with profit, it would not be surprising to see AMD make that move once it jumps on the ARM train. For now, AMD's greatest market success is leveraging its GPU product in CPU+GPU "accelerated processing units" (APUs), which have been scoring many laptop design wins.


This article is dumb on so many levels. If anyone on staff bothered to research articles, instead of reposting them ad-hoc from other sources, they'd know that "monolithic" x86 cores outperform ARM cores by far. When you need something done fast, only an x86 CPU is worth using unless you can avail of GPU compute efficiencies.

ARM cores excel at something else - servers which must handle lots of processes which don't individually need a lot of processing power (or energy). Web servers are a perfect example. An ARM server with a 100+ cores can handle 100 parallel requests without needing to queue them. This instantly reduces latency compared to having a modern x86 with minimal cores that relies on speed to spit the same 100 requests, sequentially, down the pipe.

ARM will never supplant x86 unless it reaches the level of outperforming x86 in mainstream applications so why in God's name would AMD commit suicide by dumping x86 altogether? It's far better that they grab for ARM Server market share while Intel ignore that market entirely. It's a huge potential market - the entire web runs on x86 but ARM cores are getting more attention for being power efficient and more suitable for cloud deployments.




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