Print 62 comment(s) - last by latrosicarius.. on Dec 5 at 1:14 PM

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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RE: Better luck with NVIDIA
By 16nm on 11/29/2007 8:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
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
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.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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