back to article Hands up, who prayed for AMD? Well, it worked

About a year ago, we asked you to pray for AMD. It's working. AMD has announced a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer that will churn out server processors using mini-Chipzilla's technologies in the Middle Kingdom. It also said it will bank about $1.5bn from three new games console chips over the next three or four years …

  1. xehpuk

    AMD is much needed

    Nice, we need AMD, competition is good.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: AMD is much needed

      Nice, we need <chinese startup you've never heard of producing surprising high quality x86-class chips>, competition is good.

      Fixed that for you, as they say. More seriously, there have been a number of stories over the years about how some western company strikes a deal with a Chinese partner, only to discover a couple of years later that their best technology has been reverse engineered and is now being sold back to them by an increasingly competent manufacturing arm of the PLA. They've tried making their own chips in the past (with some sort of MIPS-based design IIRC) but it wasn't hugely successful. This might be a second attempt.

      It may not happen in this case. The rate of development in the field of CPUs means that you need to do genuine innovation if you want to keep up. On the other hand, China is not short of smart people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AMD is much needed

        You forgot to mention the PLA mandated implementation flaw in their AES instruction set...

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    We did pray for it

    However, this is still ANAList news - they are all behaving ANALitically and yelling hurray at a set of future promises. The financial results are, unfortunately, still pretty dire. Though, as the whole industry is in dire straights, they probably as dire as everybody else so not so bad at the end.

    So we shall continue "The Demise of Itanic Prayer", AMD is not out of the woods yet.

  3. 45RPM Silver badge

    I like AMD. AMD chips may not provide top tier performance at a money no object price - but they do provide enough performance at a price that's hard to beat. Bang for buck, I'd argue that AMD beats Intel - but it all depends on the task you want your box to do.

    My main workstation (coding / video editing / 3D modelling) is a dual Xeon monster. But my set top box is a power sipping AMD Zacate (and HD (but probably not 4K) is well within the frugal abilities of the Zacate), and the mobo / CPU bundle cost less than 70 quid. Couldn't have done that with Intel. I built a steam box on AMD (although not on Zacate! I just can't remember which CPU I selected!) too - with a reasonably honking graphics card - and it performs well enough. I haven't found any Steam OS compatible games which taxed it to less than 30fps yet. Good enough.

    I don't think I'd want to argue for AMD being better or worse than Intel or ARM, any more than I'd want an argument about Linux / OS X / Android / Windows / iOS being the best. It just about choosing the best tool for the job. A hammer isn't better than a screwdriver or vice versa.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      If you're interested in testing CPU performance with a honking graphics card, I'd recommend the recent Total War games or something like Cities: Skylines to see what the Zacate can do.

      1. Bloakey1

        "If you're interested in testing CPU performance with a honking graphics card, I'd recommend the recent Total War games or something like Cities: Skylines to see what the Zacate can do."

        Back in the day we chucked Duke Nukem on to a machine and if it ran well with good colour and no jumping then the machine was a good un.

      2. 45RPM Silver badge

        I wouldn't dream of trying to play a game on the Zacate. I know its limitations. I just can't remember what CPU I put into the SteamBox! Suffice to say that it's much faster than the Zacate, and cheaper than Intel i5 (which is what I was considering instead, as the closest Intel equivalent).

  4. Vince Lewis 1

    I've always backed AMD

    I could never fathom why AMD doesn't have the lion's share of the low to mid range laptop sector.

    AMD bang for buck in that market is far superior than intel.

    In my experience; for all round performance, including casual gaming, intel based machines are dire until you pass the £600 mark and get dedicated graphics.

    My son uses an AMD laptop bought new for £200. It plays 80% of my games.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: I've always backed AMD

      I think they probably do have the majority of that market but it's not a high margin one. That's AMDs ongoing problem, they can't put together compelling high margin products. Even in the performance market the performance deficit is so marked they're forced to compete on price. Unlike other AMD diehards I'm not expecting Zen to fix that :(

  5. Anonymous Custard
    Trollface

    Mini-Chipzilla

    Chipzooky?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mini-Chipzilla

      I'd been about to say since AMD is an enemy of Intel, shouldn't it be something like Chipmothra?

      Anyway... now you mention Godzooky, I remember watching that show as a kid in the early 80s... because I wanted to see Godzooky. Godzilla was just the big, aggressive not-sure-if-he's-the-good-guy-or-not monster thing that just showed up occasionally and didn't really interest me. I don't think that I really considered that he was the raison d'etre of the show, rather than the added-for-the-kids-by-cartoon-makers comic sidekick.

      I also liked Scrappy Doo at the time. No, honestly. :-O

      Sorry. :-(

      Now as an adult I can see why people disliked Scrappy, but much as people slagged him off, fact remained that kids must have liked these cynically cutesy/"Poochy" characters or they wouldn't have lasted long.

  6. Paul Shirley

    amd innovation

    Major innovation in Zen: backing out the disastrous module innovation in Piledriver!

    Done good work lower down the stack with APUs and heterogenous computing though. Wonder what the Chinese are licencing.

  7. 2Fat2Bald

    I've always liked AMD. I actually use an AMD APU in my gaming rig and it's quiet, cool and plays games fine - Although you do have to wind the detail levels back a way for some of the newer titles. But what the heck do you expect - the whole thing cost me about £300 to build. That's less than a lot of people spend on just a single component. In many cases the difference between "High", or even "medium" and "ultra" preset isn't massive.

    The law of diminishing returns in in effect here, and it's easy to end up paying the last 50 percent of the money for the last 5 percent of capability.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      I have just built an Athlon-based computer for my dad (4 core 2GHz) for around £250 all-in (except monitor). Having had that fun, I wondered how cheaply I could build a "usable" computer, and came up with a workable (where "workable" means not frustratingly slow for common tasks) AMD solution for just over £100 (inc. VAT), or a "one up from the bottom" solution for just under £150. This was all from one supplier and I'm sure if I shopped around a bit I could get a solid workable machine put together for under £100 (those systems excluded keyboard & mouse). One big saving was the case - I found one case with PSU included for £18.

      All of which is very interesting if you consider that a usable Raspberry Pi solution is going to be somewhere around £60 by the time you've bought a case, power supply and SD card, and more if you need to add an external HDD for storage.

      The other interesting thing was that as I didn't need oodles of storage, all three x86 systems featured SSDs rather than HDDs.

      Then I looked at doing the same thing with Intel, and it is possible. There is a difference in cost of motherboards, with the cheapest Intel boards being about £10 more than the cheapest AMD.

      The CPU is the other variable. The cheapest system pitched a 1.45GHz dual-core Sempron for £22 against a 2.7GHz dual-core Celeron for £28 and, unsurprisingly, cpubenchmark.net reckons that the latter is about three times as fast as the former and has twice the TDP (55W Intel, 25W AMD).

      The £150 system pitched a 2GHz four-core Sempron for £32 against a 2.8GHz dual-core Celeron for £36 and this time CPU performance is much closer. I'm ignoring the inbuilt graphics here as I suspect both will be fine for desktop use, the AMD may be fractionally more efficient for HD video and games aren't in question. I'm also ignoring "integrated CPU" solutions.

      So my conclusion was that you can build a cheap Intel system. The very cheapest Intel systems will probably be £20 or so more than the very cheapest AMD systems (which on a £100 computer is 20%!) but will have more powerful processors. If you up-spec the AMD systems to match computing performance the price difference almost disappears.

      M.

  8. Francis Boyle

    Touched by His Noodly Appendage

    So the FSM also comes in Hokkein style.

  9. Halfmad

    I usually flip-flip between Intel/AMD for my gaming machine

    Sadly AMD have been somewhat lagging behind lately, hopefully that's sorted out for mid-price CPUs by the time I go to look at building a new PC later in the year.

    More cores please!

  10. PaulFrederick

    if it is x86

    Then it is Intel technology. Intel owns the x86 instruction set. Intel is x86. As in 8086, 286, 386, etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: if it is x86

      Then it is Intel technology

      No, actually.

      I might as well say that all Intel chips since Pentium 4F are AMD technology as they're x64.

    2. Francis Boyle

      Do they have zeppelins too

      in your parallel universe where every one uses Itanium?

    3. Greg D

      Re: if it is x86

      Dude, your data is a decade or so out of date. AMD won the x64 war (not to mention first dual cores), so they license their tech to Intel. :)

  11. Steven Raith

    Some strong leaks...

    Which back this up quite nicely:

    "AMD's semi custom business is basically the chips it makes for games consoles and the like. A 4K Sony PlayStation due to launch in the second half of 2016 is expected to use AMD CPU and GPU tech."

    Rumoured to be using 14nm FinFET on the same arch for the CPU, and Polaris as the GPU, with double the CUs and a major performance bump as a result.

    It's low margin stuff I'd expect, but hopefully it means economies of scale will keep Polaris discrete solutions well priced. Also be interesting to see if MS have a response to this.

    I'll admit, I was kind of hoping for Zen in the leak, but I'd expect that's an architectural change too far for game devs - and more GPU horsepower is what's needed for VR in most cases anyway.

    Interesting times, though, and nice to see AMD getting a comparative shot in the arm, they could do with it, and frankly, we need 'em to keep Intel honest.

    Steven R

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok

    I prayed :-). Though this short time improvement may not be long. I like companies who are innovative and follow honest business practice. Old Nokia was an ideal example of it. Companies like Intel, Nvidia, Google do anything for money.

  13. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Asking people to pray for AMD?

    Why pray manually when you have a computer?

    I just grabbed some careless dev's AWS credentials off github and spun up a few thousand instances running

    while :; do echo Help AMD > /dev/deity; done &

    Seems to have done the job.

    (Selecting parameters for the mknod command to create /dev/deity is left as an exercise for the believer.)

    1. stephanh
      Angel

      Re: Asking people to pray for AMD?

      It was in the days of the rains that their prayers went up, not from the fingering of knotted prayer cords ... but from the great pray-machine in the monastery of Ratri, goddess of the Night.

      ...

      For six days he had offered many kilowatts of prayer, but the static kept him from being heard on high.

      -- Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny.

  14. cortland

    Worked?

    Sure -- if you won't mind the People's Intelligence Commission reading your files and running DDoS on your computer.

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