Feeds

AMD celebrates 500 million CPU sales

What price a billion?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Microprocessor designer and seller Advanced Micro Devices - the onetime chip manufacturer - is marking its 40th year in the chip racket business. today, the company said it has shipped more than 500 million x86 and x64 chips, Oh, and it also announced a shameless ultra-thin notebook giveaway through Twitter, hoping to convince people it's cool.

What makes AMD cool is not shenanigans like giving away four Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv2z notebooks to Twitter addicts who listen in on AMD's feed and respond correctly to questions posed by AMD quiz-masters (details here. What makes AMD cool is rather good chip design and pushing the envelope on the x86 and x64 architecture in ways that you can bet that Intel would never had done on its own - or at least not at the fast pace Intel has been compelled to do a few times in its history because AMD was out in front with better chip designs.

AMD's historical albatross, like other chip makers, has been its inability to keep to its roadmaps. But even a cynic has to admit that since the Opterons were announced in 2003, AMD has hit most of its roadmap milestones - excepting the quad-core 'Barcelona' launch, which had a bug, and some sliding on the dual-core 'Santa Rosa' chips two years earlier.

The question now is whether removing itself from the chip making part of the business is going to make AMD better at hitting its goals or not. Even though AMD still has a sizable 34.2 per cent stake in GlobalFoundries, the former manufacturing arm of AMD that was spun out in March, the company gets to pretend that it is free to design and sell chips now that it's not encumbered by the substantial capital investments and technical challenges of moving to ever-smaller chip circuits.

But don't be misdirected. AMD is most certainly tied to GlobalFoundries, and its future is every bit as staked to the new Fab 2 foundry that will be built in Upstate New York after a groundbreaking this Friday. This wafer baker will use 300mm wafers and implement chips with 32 nanometer processes. It will cost an astounding $4.2bn, and it's set for volume production in 2012. The company says that this is the largest economic development project in the history of New York, unless you consider the nearly 100-year history of IBM.

The wonder of AMD is not that it can ship 500 million processors, but why it has been so difficult to make it 1 billion chips or more, giving AMD some profits (perhaps) and a larger piece of the market share for x86 and x64 chips (that should have been easier).

AMD bears some of the blame for this, with its sometimes choppy deliveries of new chips over its long history. AMD owes its entry into the x86 chip market to IBM, since IBM's supply chain policies back in the early 1980s when it entered the PC racket required it to have two sources for components. So AMD licensed Intel technology and became a second source, and it wasn't long before protracted legal and technical battles between AMD and Intel started.

It has taken more than a decade for AMD to shift from reverse-engineering Intel's x86 designs to setting the pace in x64 chip designs. But at this point, Intel and AMD are drawn pretty much even as Intel has pulled an AMD and reverse engineered the Opteron processors as its Nehalem family of chips. (Yes, that is an oversimplification. But it is basically true). And with AMD having lost money for 11 quarters in a row, Wall Street an investors are losing patience. Good designs should bring some money to the bottom line, but so far, AMD has not demonstrated it can do what public companies are supposed to do: make products and make money too.

If AMD is thinking then next 500 million microprocessors it sells will be easier than the first 500 million, it is in for a big surprise. This chip business only gets tougher as IT matures, and AMD has all the same risks that it had before with its fabs.

The difference is someone else - namely the government of Abu Dhabi - is footing a lot of the bill. AMD had better hope that GlobalFoundries gets some more customers to use that pricey fab so it stays in business and keeps competitive with Intel's wafer bakers. Getting IBM to shut down its own fabs in East Fishkill, New York after the 45 nanometer generation would be a good start. And considering how IBM's Systems and Technology group is not making any money these days, it is an obvious move for both IBM and GlobalFoundries. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
The British Museum plonks digital bricks on world of Minecraft
Institution confirms it's cool with joining the blocky universe
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.