back to article AMD is a rounding error on Intel's spreadsheet and that sucks for us all

On Tuesday, Intel said it expects to bank in the final quarter of the year $15.7bn in sales, plus or minus $500m. That's a billion-dollar swing. Two days later, on Thursday, AMD proudly revealed that its entire revenue for the three months to September 24 was $1.3bn. Just over a billion dollars. AMD is little more than …

  1. RIBrsiq
    Pint

    I quite fondly remember the days of Athlon, Athlon XP and Athlon 64.

    Here's hoping something like them comes back: US$1500+ desktop CPUs I really don't like and can do without, thank you very much!

    1. Planty Bronze badge

      I am desperate to forget that era. Really buggy supporting choosers from and nvidia and others.

      The Intel based systems just worked, and based systems were a total nightmare, with crappy chipsets and even crappier drivers.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sigh

    How did we get here with Intel CPUs being so expensive? It can't be a properly operating market. There has to be a nasty explanation, underhand dealing, to explain such market dominance on overpriced parts.

    1. P0l0nium

      Re: Sigh

      "It can't be a properly operating market. There has to be a nasty explanation, underhand dealing.."

      Well why don't we just skip the "Evidence process" and levy fines ... right ?? :-)

      What could POSSIBLY be wrong with that ??

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-20/intel-should-win-fight-over-1-16-billion-fine-court-aide-says

      1. BaronMatrix

        Re: Sigh

        Why must you spread your propaganda everywhere...? Intel started the price war that got us here... And pulled underhanded tactics before and after... But process advances are no longer in Intel's favor and Zen has features that Intel doesn't...

    2. Aitor 1

      Re: Sigh

      Well, they competed illegally, and they just got a relatively small fine.

      They should have gone to prison and the company fined heavily, with all proceeds going to AMD.

      1. P0l0nium

        Re: Sigh

        They gave AMD a Billion Dollars and the rights to go Fabless.

        AMD has existed for nearly 50 years and is now worth less than it was in 1974 having never paid a dividend.

        There is something wrong there besides a few years of "robust competition" from Intel.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sigh

          There is something wrong there, but it's not just "robust" competition, it's illegal competition. And there was plenty of evidence. I know. I was there. As has been said, they should have been jailed and not just fined. And Intel hasn't learnt from its experience. Hence they're still Donald Trumping about the outcome and more or less continuing with what they were found guilty of in a court of law. But if you're OK with the way things are (no real choice in processors, ever increasing prices), you should be interested that Intel is coming out with a special line of processor lubricant to make those ever escalating prices feel well, not OK, but you know what I mean ....

      2. Nate Amsden

        Re: Sigh

        Wouldn't of helped. AMD has been doing nothing in the server space for 5 years that is their own damn fault. They must of lost a lot of engineering talent around the time when opteron 6000 launched. They had little roadmap to follow up with after that (at the time as a 6000 customer I was eagerly awaiting more. I still like those chips and still have a bunch in production).

        Then after being silent for a while AMD killed the newer chips that customers were anticipating.

        Then AMD jumped on the ARM bandwagon for servers. That right there told me they lacked x86 skills in server space.

        Then as most expected ARM continues to be stillborn in the datacenter much like intel is stillborn in mobile.

        So it seems like AMD re tasked some of their desktop crew along with what was left of their server crew to make Zen.

        They release some interesting benchmarks against intel but they rig them. A month or two later intel comes out with a new generation of chip (from what I recall AMD was testing against previous gen) which is much faster. Meanwhile AMDs launch is still months away.

        Quite sad to see. I suppose I am over it now. I was very angry at AMD for what they did to themselves back in the opteron 6000 days.

        If Zen for server is competitive with a lot of cores then I will deploy it. I really fear that it will not be though based again on those benchmark claims.

        Having a CPU that is half the cost doesn't really mean much when the total cost of the server+software stack is more than 30k a pop for the systems I deploy.

        I just want more real cores (today we use 18 core intel for vmware and most recently am building 22 core intels for LXC), all on the HP DL380Gen9 platform.

        1. BaronMatrix

          Re: Sigh

          Opteron is still in the number three super computer... Zen Opteron will have Secure Memory encryption and it looks like their SMT will work in servers from the beginning, unlike Intel which couldn't use HT for VMs...

          Their K12 will go in the same socket as Zen which will let them have a Big.Little server config... Naples is 32 cores and there will be 16 core versions... Doom and Gloom hasn't helped the PC industry yet...

          1. Nick 26

            Re: Sigh

            >Opteron is still in the number three super computer...

            Yes, but that machine is 4 years old.

            More relevant to the current health of competition is the chip manufacturer for the new machines in the last release of the Top 500 list. There were 154 new machines, 153 of them used various models of Intel CPU and 1 of them used a Sunway CPU (the new Chinese-designed #1 machine).

    3. asdf

      Re: Sigh

      Intel didn't force AMD at the top of their game to go buy ATI. In some ways that is their lifeline today but it badly distracted their management at the time and they did end up writing a lot of the deal off.

      1. BaronMatrix

        Re: Sigh

        But they did rush to cancel 3rd party chipsets around the same time for nVidia and ATi... Graphics in average PCs have sucked since...

  3. Chewi
    Happy

    I think we have to look on the bright side here

    I seriously thought they were going to go bust this year or soon after. It looks like they've managed to turn that around, which is no small feat. Meanwhile, I'm loving my RX 480 and am very keen to see what Zen has to offer.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: I think we have to look on the bright side here

      Also, thanks to Intel stronghold on datacentres, more and more customers are looking at alternative architectures. This might not have been the case if there was strong competition in ia32/x64 architecture. As the things are, both IBM POWER and ARM have a fighting chance.

      1. Nate Amsden

        Re: I think we have to look on the bright side here

        Key word is looking. If intel drops more than 10% in data center market share in the next decade I'll be surprised.

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: I think we have to look on the bright side here

          Even 5% , in decade, would be a nice piece of pie cake to have.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I think we have to look on the bright side here

          Meanwhile expect to continue having to pay escalating prices ....

      2. Daniel B.
        Boffin

        Re: I think we have to look on the bright side here

        Oh, I hope this actually happens. It's about time the x86 architecture is put out to pasture, as it should've been done back in the late 90s. Intel cheated its way to the top during the CPU wars.

    2. DropBear
      Mushroom

      Re: I think we have to look on the bright side here

      Yeah, about that - I'm hell bent on getting an RX 480 in my AMD CPU'd desktop instead of my old Radeon, in spite of being called an idiot for trying to Linux with anything other than an NVidia. EXCEPT that card AMD announced for $200 MSRP _SOMEHOW_ keeps selling for $300+++...

  4. Gideon 1

    "On the other hand, Tesla just announced self-driving hardware in its new cars, all powered by Nvidia GPUs"

    Which they have disabled at launch.

  5. gregthecanuck

    How Zen will likely play out

    When Zen does finally ship Intel will re-price their equivalent processors. Their tactic in the past appeared to be charging about a 5 to 10% premium for equivalent performance.

    Part of the premium has been accounted for by the fact that Intel chips have generally been more power-efficient than AMD for the same performance. That 5 or 10% premium is more than offset by long term power savings. Enough to make an AMD or Intel decision difficult because the large price savings for AMD won't be there especially in the data centre market.

    So AMD better be deliver something that Intel doesn't, or be prepared for ongoing squeezed margins.

    Will be interesting to watch the market.

    1. BaronMatrix

      Re: How Zen will likely play out

      They already have... Naples can encrypt the RAM for VMs... And Intel's SMT didn't work with VMs when it launched...

  6. Sil

    Intel isn't responsible for the years of underwhelming -in spite of recurring hyperbolic marketing - AMD processors and GPU offerings.

    Once again, it disappoints with high end GPUs, although it's successful in the medium category.

    Let's hope the Zen processors are as good as AMD say they are, and let's hope the contract change with Global Foundries is positive for AMD.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Intel isn't responsible for the shitty Linux AMD video drivers either.

      I'll be happy if they sink without a trace.

      1. gregthecanuck

        If you have been following Phoronix lately it appears AMD is getting their sh!t together WRT their open source drivers.

        I suggest you give AMD on Linux another chance. Cheers!

  7. Fenton

    Third parties

    Whilst AMD chips have not been able to compete with Intel at the high end, APUs have been great performers for the price.

    However third party Laptop makers have only every paired these chips with crap hardware, preferring to put equivalent Intel chips into "Premium" laptops.

    I for one am hoping the Zen performs as promised especially in the server market.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Third parties

      You're right. You have to hope AMD gets its act together. You also have to help by buying strategically. Otherwise we're all screwed.

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    These are not the results you are looking for

    It's just that Intel is pretty unstoppable at the moment.

    Actually, Intel has just issued downward guidance. The PC market is continuing to shrink and growth at data centres is slowing; both Intel and AMD are going nowhere in the mobile space and ARM is looking to move up the value chain. Of course, Intel still sell huge volumes at high margins but I wouldn't be surprised to see those margins fall over the next couple of years.

    In a post-x86 world AMD is just collateral damage. Fortunately, it started looking for new markets a couple of years ago when it bought ATI and an ARM design competence so I think Mr Moorhead has a point.

  9. Matt Siddall

    I used to go with AMD exclusively for my CPUs, but the Core 2 Duos from Intel changed that. They were vastly better than what AMD was offering. I get the impression AMD has never really caught back up (although I'll admit I've not been following that closely recently).

    1. Mark #255

      The last three PC upgrades I've done have ended up using AMD parts. Yes, i7 chips are bloody fast, but I really can't justify* the cost, compared to an A8.

      * Even though the A8 can take 12 hours to compress a Bluray down to a sensible number of gigabytes

      1. BaronMatrix

        That's why you use an OpenGL app that uses the GPU... They have those...

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      "I used to go with AMD exclusively for my CPUs, but the Core 2 Duos from Intel changed that"

      Why?

      I have an AMD Phenom, one of the early ones that nobody wanted to touch due to a FUD campaign. It's worked fine since like 2007. It outperforms the Core 2 Duo massively in the real world. While it is probably a lot slower than some of the more modern silicon I tend to ignore the benchmarks and just look at performance I notice.

      A new cheapish mid range graphics card every 3 years and it's been fine through to today, I'm still using it. In nine years, the only noticeable performance problem has been Far Cry 4 dropping below 30FPS when big explosions were set off. (physics processing?)

      It's literally going to be a decade old when it's finally replaced with one of the new Zen's next year, which I hope will do another 5-10 years.

      1. HighTech4US

        Because Core 2 was a massive upgrade over AMD offerings

        That is why.

        I went all Intel starting with the Q6600 Core 2 Quad that I paid $273 for in 2007. My interest was video encoding and AMD products then were well behind what Intel offers and what AMD released later to compete against it fell well short.

        As for your quote: I have an AMD Phenom, one of the early ones that nobody wanted to touch due to a FUD campaign. It's worked fine since like 2007. It outperforms the Core 2 Duo massively in the real world. While it is probably a lot slower than some of the more modern silicon I tend to ignore the benchmarks and just look at performance I notice.

        Who today even uses a dual core processor? Even browsing (with video) now taxes quad cores.

        1. DropBear
          WTF?

          Re: Because Core 2 was a massive upgrade over AMD offerings

          "Who today even uses a dual core processor? Even browsing (with video) now taxes quad cores."

          Sure, as long as you define "taxing" as "using less than 10% CPU total at watching 1080p Youtube either in windowed or fullscreen mode, with 37 other tabs open". On an AMD Phenom quad core right now.

        2. Vic

          Re: Because Core 2 was a massive upgrade over AMD offerings

          Who today even uses a dual core processor?

          I do.

          Even browsing (with video) now taxes quad cores.

          Errr - OK. If you insist.

          Vic.

      2. lmotaku

        Couldn't agree more. I've ran AMD Sempron, Athlon, Athlon x2, Phenom II, and FX, and will be going to Zen. I started out on Intel, for servers, for gaming, everything. I went PI, PII, PIII, PIV, then Duron and never looked back—even though I have given Intel Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, and gen1, gen2 i5s a go. One of my biggest issues with Intel was it couldn't handle my multitasking. I battered CPUs with hundreds of applications simultaneously and all my CPUs fried up until Core 2 Duo and i5, but with Core 2 Duo it would stall or crash and i5 would just slow down exponentially and take a long time to finish and come back. i7 is literally the only CPU that can handle my load, but the processors are $800-1000, where I just paid $250 for AMD FX 8350 in the beginning of it's life span and haven't had an issue, period. Same deal with Phenom II x6 1045T. I've used a 4 year old i5, and I'm telling you right now, it can't keep up to my usage 24/7. It can't handle me for a few minutes before it starts slowing down, although my friend claims that it never does that for him.

    3. lmotaku

      What? The Duos sucked.

      The AMD Athlon x2 was much better at multi-tasking and doing video editing via Sony Vegas than an Intel Core 2 Duo was not even a blip on my radar, because the pc would crash. Pre-i5, everything Intel was selling would croak under my usage. Something AMD wouldn't.

  10. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    Zen holds a lot of promise

    There is talk of 8 core/16 threads available at launch. With 32 cores/64 threads available not long after. Intel does not offer a 32 core CPU. Zen will definitely be more power-efficient. It is using a smaller die and it is a redesign from the ground, up. If Zen has comparable performance to i7 and isn't a blowtorch (unlikely) and is reasonably priced, they can easily win back many enthusiasts and some high-markup servers.

    And then Vega is coming out next year. The old, inefficient Fury X can hold its own against the new NVidia 1080 only in DirectX 12/Vulkan games, although not in older games, because of HBM memory. Vega will be using HBM2 memory, which will allow the video card to have more than 4GB of memory for 4K gaming. DirectX 12 and Vulkan have AMD's fingerprints all over it. AMD is poised to win back the enthusiasts for video cards, at least for a few months.

    All is this good. I love competition. I want a healthy AMD because it means a heavier wallet. Competition brings innovation and lower prices. I punch those numbers into my smartphone's calculator and it comes out a winner.

    1. mwnci

      Re: Zen holds a lot of promise

      I agree a healthy market place is a good thing - But one thing I am 100% against is helping another company to maintain parity. If AMD cannot be bothered to do better at something that earns them the dollars, why should I help them and what right have they got to exist? Their raison d'etre is to make a good product and sell at a competitive price - Their products have been variable, their price has always been better.

      I decided that due to the benefits of certain things on an intel chip, like running cooler, less power consumption (AMD lower safe temperatures than Intel) and better performance on certain applications (Bohemia Interactives - ARMA3 for example) an i5 K's series for my needs was best.But I've always liked AMD, I've had DURONS and T-BIRDS in the past, but slowly moved away from them and ATI Radeon.

      Maybe ARM or TESLA or some other manufacture will look to take a chunk of the market - But these days with IOT and Mobile processors etc, the Desk Top CPU will become an increasingly niche product.

      1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Re: Zen holds a lot of promise

        Nobody is asking you to help maintain parity. This was about AMD once again being a product worth buying. My desktop computer is Intel. It was better, I bought it. My laptop is an AMD Carrizo based one. Why? Full H.265 decoding, that is why. It has a blu-ray drive so I can buy 4K blu-rays and have them play on my laptop. I deemed the H.265 decoding and better gaming more valuable for my laptop than what Intel offered. My only complaint is HP only offered a displayport 1.1 adapter on their laptops at the time, which means no 4K external monitor/TV.

  11. lurker

    When it comes to the gaming PC market (which is the one I know well, can't speak for servers or home and office so much) AMD basically bet the farm on multi-threaded, and that hurt them.

    There's no point having umpteen cores when it's still the case that barely any games are multithreaded, so Intel runs everything much better on it's 2 and 4 core i3/i5s due to it's massive lead in IPC (instructions per cycle). Hoping for some shangri la multi-threaded paradise in the near future is not going to work out well - any programmer can tell you that designing proper multithreaded software is a huge leap in complexity, and the benefits really just aren't there for the game studios to justify the increased development cost.

    AMD really need to reverse this trend/approach with Zen if they want to make any inroads into Intel's stranglehold on the PC gaming/enthusiast market next year. I work for a company which sells gaming PCs and i'd say over 90% are Intel - unless you are really on a super-strict budget AMD just aren't in the running currently.

    Personally I really hope AMD do come up with the goods this time, a single-vendor stranglehold of the desktop CPU would be terrible for the consumer.

    1. DropBear

      Frankly, Intel's "kinda two cores by hyper-threading but not really" bullshit was one of the reasons I always avoided them like plague. Not the main one, but certainly an important one.

      1. lurker

        AMD's bulldozer cores are not 'full' cores either, though they are "more of a core" than hyper-threading (which is essentially 'simulated cores') admittedly.

        But none of that really plays into the issue of gaming performance - for gaming you just want two or more actual physical cores (so that your OS can dedicate one core full-time to a game) and the best per-core performance you can get.

  12. Michael Sanders

    Intel has military contracts that contribute heavily to it's bottom line. Everyone always forgets that. And yes, AMD did suffer from a lot of fake FUD regarding their processors. After they adjusted their prices is was the best kept secret.

  13. John Savard Silver badge

    Noisy

    8% isn't that bad; the fact that Intel doesn't keep track of its revenues very precisely doesn't make AMD less important. Not that 8% is that good, either, but "statistical noise" would normally create the impression of an even more stark disparity, of revenues below 1% or 0.1% of Intel's.

  14. J. Cook Silver badge

    For a while, our VMware stacks at $work were all Opteron 6xxx series- VMware charges by the socket for the hypervisor, and cramming 48 cores worth of CPU on a 4 socket box was very attactive for us. the standalone machines (very few and far between) were intel based, though.

    at this point though, we are moving to intel for it's replacement (E5-26xx v3), because when I looked last year there were exactly *two* companies selling AMD boxes, and they were all 2 processor generations old. We have a BI application that that used to take 40 minutes to process on the AMD hardware; once we migrated it to the new stuff the processing time dropped by 60% easily.

    If AMD can crank out server chips again and get vendors to actually make boxes, I'll cheerfully recommend them- they were certainly cheaper then the intel equivalent at the time.

  15. SeanC4S

    Some playdoh head at intel caused a hardware bug that means I have no RDRAND instruction on my laptop's CPU.

  16. Joerg

    Bad products is AMD fault only

    Oh yeah.. competition is good... yep.. unless manufacturers are releasing low quality subpar and just bad products like all the Google Android crap tablets and smartphones and the AMD CPUs and GPUs that are a silly joke.

    The fake next-gen consoles Playstation4 and XBoxOne and Playstation4Pro and XBox Scorpio all AMD big fraud based selling absolute crap with marketing lies all fake specifications numbers and such.

    No, that is not good competition. Junk products on the market is not good competition at all.

    Although there are fools and idiots buying those frauds it doesn't mean that anyone should.

    AMD, Google and Android manufacturers all deserve to go bankrupt and be put in jail for the frauds they do selling crap products.

    1. Daniel B.
      Boffin

      Re: Bad products is AMD fault only

      The only thing that makes the next-gen a "fake next-gen" is the use of crappy x86 processors instead of keeping PPC and improving on that line. Instead of getting true next-gen consoles, we ended up with PCs masquerading as "next-gen" consoles. But we would've had this with Intel chips as well. So you're right, just not for the reasons you think you are.

      As for AMD processors, I had a quite decent run with them. The last crappy AMD I had was the infamous K6-2 which was indeed crappy. My 9 year old Athlon64 PC is still going strong, even though it's been mostly relegated to a storage server these days.

    2. Daz555

      Re: Bad products is AMD fault only

      Fake consoles? Fake specifications? What does that even mean?

      PS4 is now at 50 million sales with an uptake rate which is close to PS2 levels. Game sales on PS4 are kocking on 400 million. It's a nice piece of kit.

  17. ben_myers

    Crushed???

    "AMD crushed Q3 revenue guidance by 9 per cent..." Since when is beating revenue projections by 9% a "crushing"? Must be the higher match done by a PR flack, a species not noted for mathematical prowess.

    Had AMD beaten revenue guidance by 25%, THAT would have been a crushing.

  18. JohnyDoe

    AMD needs to DIE.

    I am guaranteeing that once AMD dies, all the light will come thru and progress in CPU will flourish. The competition mantra is not working for the leading edge, it is only a plague.

  19. DrTeeth

    This is how AMD should have done it

    I am staying with Win 7 for as long as possible. I hate win 10 so much that I would happily use Win 8.1 to avoid it.

    So, it's Sandy Lake for me to upgrade my first gen i7 860. Zen looks as if it will be a nice CPU, but if it cannot run Win 7/8.1 it's useless to me and many, many others too I'd wager.

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