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AMD diverts resources from the Quad FX platform development the same year it promises Quad FX is the enthusiast future

AMD excited many technology enthusiasts last year when it introduced the Quad FX platform. AMD representatives touted this platform as the next big thing from AMD.

AMD apparently talked up its Quad FX enthusiast platform so well that Intel decided to roll out a competing product in its unreleased Skulltrail platform. When the Quad FX platform first hit market in January of 2007 it seemed doomed from the start to many with steep price premiums for the mainboards and the processors. These price premiums led to the lethargic adoption of the platform.

According to The Tech Report AMD representative Suzy Pruitt commented on the future of Quad FX. “The short answer is that while there are still engineering resources focused on future platform offerings that build off Quad FX, the current energy and effort has gone into programs and product initiatives like Spider and AMD has discontinued future planning and development of its eight-core enthusiast platform at this time.”

Pruitt continued, “We will continue to support customers that have an existing Quad FX with DSDC and are also working on an upgrade path for those customers. While AMD is not actively promoting AMD Opteron processor as a 2P enthusiast solution, we recognized that there are enthusiasts who are looking for two-socket solutions and think an Opteron platform is well-suited to meet that demand at this time.”

After all the promises ad statements by AMD that Quad FX was the companies enthusiast future, AMD has apparently decided to all but kill the platform off. The few enthusiasts who plunked down the big dollars required to adopt the platform should be feeling a bit uncomfortable right now.

AMD promises to continue support for the platform. However, AMD also promised the platform was the future and the company has all but killed it off the same year. The best Quad FX owners can look forward to is an upgrade to Opteron processors that work with the Quad FX mainboards.



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Better luck with NVIDIA
By Mitch101 on 11/29/2007 6:05:52 PM , Rating: 0
AMD has better luck competing with NVIDIA than with Intel. If AMD can wipe out NVIDIA then AMD stands a chance to be profitable. Competing against Intel puts AMD in a bad position they just cant compete with the 800lb gorilla. Maybe they will be back with fusion but it doesn't look like the Phenom is a good Intel competitor even if it scales to 3ghz some 45nm Intel chips are scaling to 4ghz already.

The R700 should put a massive hurt on NVIDIA if AMD can get the drivers complete which it looks like they are close to doing. We already know that ATI scales better in multi core than NVIDIA. Nvidia cant compete with R700 without using SLI and I'm not sure how fast they can transition the design to multi core. ATI should be sampling R700 in the next month.

Hector FINALLY stated that they should be focusing on becoming profitable. This is the best news out of AMD since they were too busy trying to compete instead of trying to make a profit.




RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 6:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
Nvidia is doing very well in the market. If anything, the AMD buyout has helped them in the short run. One might expect this as digesting a large company such as ATI is not an easy task.

Perhaps in the long run, AMD can offer extremely cheap combos of processor + chipset + graphics to OEMs. If executed well, it would put pressure on Nvidia. It would be no surprise if things went too well for AMD, Nvidia would file an anti-trust lawsuit against AMD. That would make Intel laugh I am sure.

However, AMD has basic execution problems -- like how to make a competitive processor -- that call into question the core viability of AMD as a long term technology player.

It is not out of the question today to envision AMD merely as a reshaped ATI, offering chipsets + graphics. AMD might even have to sell off their processor division to IBM (which already makes POWER processors), Sun (which needs something better than SPARC), Samsung, etc.

In many ways, if AMD sold their processor division to a stronger technology company it would be better for the market. AMD apparently does not have the brains/resources/focus required for the timely development and delivery of modern processors. A stronger owner of AMD's x86 technology could offer better solutions at a better price.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By Adonlude on 11/29/2007 6:48:19 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Nvidia would file an anti-trust lawsuit against AMD. That would make Intel laugh I am sure.

Intel is already lauging at AMD. Intel has much better products and probably will for a long time. Intel's stock is up. AMD's stock is at a 52wk low. In fact, AMD's stock hasn't been this low since 2002.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By timmiser on 11/29/2007 7:01:04 PM , Rating: 1
AMD was doing pretty well competing with Intel a couple years ago when only they had affordable 64bit processors and only they had real dual core cpus. It won't be long until the pendulum swings back the other way and AMD is on the rise again.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By darkpaw on 11/29/2007 9:42:02 PM , Rating: 2
I like to see AMD remain competitive, but this is wishful thinking. The only reason they every got such an advantage was because Intel got lazy and sloppy with the Netburst and had thought wrongly that Itanium was the future.

I really don't see that happening again. Unless Intel just rolls over and decides not to release a new architecture or process for 2 years, AMD will never catch them. It's really a matter of resources, and in that area Intel blows AMD away.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By MandrakeQ on 11/29/2007 10:23:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure Intel got lazy and sloppy with P4.

There were several simulation studies done about 7+ years ago that came to the conclusion that 30 pipe stages was the optimal logic depth for a processor. However, those same studies didn't account for power and heat, the main killers of P4.

Intel could make a mistake like that again and allow AMD a chance to compete, but it looks like they will be on top for the near future. Especially now that they don't completely ignore AMD, and they make sure to cover their bases by guaranteeing their road map has something to match everything on AMD's.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By S3anister on 12/2/2007 4:30:44 AM , Rating: 2
Well i guess we'll see when they try to shrink processor die down past 32nm, it'll take more and more resources, not to mention R&D... let's just hope AMD can keep competetive.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By 16nm on 11/29/2007 8:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
AMD has better luck competing with NVIDIA than with Intel. If AMD can wipe out NVIDIA then AMD stands a chance to be profitable.


It should be pointed out that ATI are executing quite well, thank you. I won't say that they can "wipe Nvidia out" but they are making all the right decisions right now. AMD is not doing so well. They should have been growing their fabs instead of buying ATI, frankly. They must dramatically cut CPU prices to compete with Intel so they must sell a huge number of chips to make a profit, but dang it, they don't have the capacity to. I bet when the Intel board heard that AMD was buying ATI, they were cracking open the champagne and celebrating.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/29/2007 8:43:32 PM , Rating: 2
ATI is doing well in the OEM market due to low prices.

These low prices would not exist if AMD were not running at a loss to maintain its market share, prop up existing contracts, not lose key OEM partners, etc.

The biggest problem with ATI is that it continues to ship products that have low quality drivers. This is before and after the AMD acquisition. I have used ATI products a long time, since ATI's 8514/A compatible boards. The hardware has been great, but the drivers have always been junky.

To their credit, AMD/ATI has begun to help the open source community build open source ATI drivers. This is the best move I have seen from AMD/ATI in a long time. It might be the move that changes the game for ATI.

Frankly, AMD should have been designing/building a great follow-on to the Opteron, not opening more fabs, not buying ATI, not fielding a massive lawsuit against Intel, etc.

It doesn't matter how many fabs you have if you have nothing worth building. FAB capacity is a far easier problem to solve vs. "design and debug a world class x86 processor".


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By 16nm on 11/30/2007 12:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Frankly, AMD should have been designing/building a great follow-on to the Opteron, not opening more fabs, not buying ATI, not fielding a massive lawsuit against Intel, etc.


They did design the best follow up they possibly could have. The problem is that they can never match Intel's process. Intel's chips/processes are just better manufactured and can perform better when the designs are identical, which they pretty much are now. AMD must compete on price. You get less performance, that's OK, but you must pay less for it. This is how AMD succeeded for several decades and that is where they need to be again, waiting for Intel to stumble, again. Intel may never f-up the way they did with P4 but if they do, AMD need to be healthy and ready to jump. AMD must produce more and lower production costs through volume to lower selling prices.

AMD have a good design. They need to work on their process to get more speed out of it. The design is good. The 65nm process is poo-poo.

ATI are being smart. They are working hard at improving their products and driving down manufacturing costs. Kudos to ATI. The competition between ATI and Nvidia is strong. It's a good sign for the consumer.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By GeorgeOrwell on 11/30/2007 5:03:11 AM , Rating: 1
I think we're on the same page, just it's 11x17 and there's a bit of room to wander around.

AMD doesn't have the best process -- which means it will be difficult to compete on price when your costs are higher. And it also means, generally, that power usage will be higher. This is a double whammy.

AMD doesn't have the best design -- B2 stepping had so many bugs that there will be an immediate B3 and then a quick follow with B4 (keep in mind the entire chip is being redesigned for 2H08).

Maybe the current design is good for some server apps, I think that is being shown. But to compete in other markets, the design need some work beyond just bug fixes. Maybe this will be a double pumped ALU, bigger L2/L3, support for unbuffered ECC, etc.

Overall, AMD's design is now comparable to Intel's current chips, but is so buggy that shipments are still being curtailed to the minimum. And even with comparable, you then need to compete on price, availability, support, etc. Areas that AMD cannot do for long (price), cannot do because of lack of competence (availability), and cannot do because of lack of resources (support).

Ask someone at Supermicro/Tyan who is willing to share the dirt and you will hear some scathing opinions of AMD as a company of complacent idiots.

When it comes to customer purchases, we need to look at the the key metrics, such as performance/watt. Here AMD is unable to compete except in a few niche markets.

We also need to look at price. And here AMD is unable to compete without running massive losses. Maybe the moves to maintain market share will ensure survival. But at what cost? There will be less stock for employees, more dilution. Morale will suffer.

ATI is being smarter than AMD (who isn't?), but still has mostly bad drivers, poor quality control, a completely confused product naming system, etc. It is still a company that makes a good graphics board, hardware wise, but does not do well anywhere else. It is not to say Nvidia is perfect. But ATI needs to improve tremendously if it is going to have a sunny future.

At the end of the day we still have a company unable to field a quality next generation processor in any quantity other than for "early adopters". And that is a very bad problem for a processor company.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By Vanman345 on 11/30/2007 12:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
While I really want a healthy viable competitor to Intel, AMD is going to have very serious problems for many years to come I think. The largest obstacle immediately in front of them is the crushing debt load from the ATI purchase. Compound that with Intel's execution with the Core 2 duo CPU family and AMD faces a herculean task ahead of them. The only way they are able to move product against a clearly superior competitor is to cut prices. Those razor thin margins on the K8 processors don't make it real easy to pay off debt and invest much in R & D.

While Nvidia faces some challenges, I believe Intel is a far bigger threat than AMD/ATI. The more feasible scenario is that Nvidia as a possible buyer of AMD. Currently Nvidia has an 18 billion market cap, zero debt and a ton of free cash, while AMD has a market cap of 5.6 billion, just slightly higher than their debt of 5.35 billion dollars. But Jen-Hsun will never even consider that, aside from the debt load, aging product line and the anti-trust considerations of Nvidia buying their only real competition, it would really piss off Intel and cut off a large chunk of business.

I hope that AMD is able to pull something out of the hat that has a chance of competing with Intel, but the odds on that happening in the next 3-5 yrs are pretty slim IMO.


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By hardwareking on 11/30/2007 5:14:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Maybe they will be back with fusion


As Goku from Dragonball Z said "Fusion is the only way you can beat Maajin Buu"

AMD really need somethin special now


RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By Hawkido on 12/3/2007 4:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Maybe they will be back with fusion but it doesn't look like the Phenom is a good Intel competitor even if it scales to 3ghz some 45nm Intel chips are scaling to 4ghz already.


While I agree that the Phenom needed to be more competitive at the get go, I don't see that your statment holds as much water as you think...

#1. The Scalability of AMD's Procs is better than Intel's procs Mhz for Mhz.

#2. The Desktop market is only one of 4 realms in competition between Intel and AMD (Server, Desktop, portable, integrated). Intel has the best Desktop part hands down, They both have good Integrated parts, Intel seems to have a good edge on the mobile performance but AMD has a better power profile with it's integrated memory controller and seperated powerplane, AMD has the best Server Part, and as speeds scale up (even if Intel scales speeds at a 33% faster rate) Intel will not be able to compete with the increadibly scalable AMD Architechiture. Intel is bottlenecked at one socket and 4 cpus on a socket. Also intel cannot put all 4 CPUs on a single package, due to the same FSB bottleneck. You cannot make blanket statments about all 4 based on observations of the others.

Of the 4 sections the Server sector is the most profitable (Largest Margin), however the Desktop sector generates the most actual profit (smaller margins, much higher volume)

However with the trend going to Virtual Servers and thin clients at work places you may very well see the server sector sit on a larger percentage of the market.

If AMD somehow manages to take over a larger portion of the market with Fusion they will be protected from most forms of anti-trust litigation because they offer a different type of product. Videocard integrated into CPU or CPU integrated into Videocard, depending on the viewpoint. This should stop nVidia or Intel from being able to say AMD is acting unfairly towards them as they could license the technology from AMD or develop it themselves.

(That last part... not likely to happen, but it is the dream of AMD execs and Fanbois)


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