AMD admits to struggling with HD 5000 demand

By Justin Mann on November 25, 2009, 5:00 PM
AMD's newest and fastest cards have impressed people with all-around incredible performance. There is no denying the great engineering behind AMD's 5000 series, but it has suffered in a crucial arena: manufacturing.

From the beginning, AMD has faced issues in supply, resulting in shortages for many cards in the line. The company recently spoke about these shortages, revealing their cause and outlining potential solutions. Dave Baumann, Product Manager for the series, spoke about production issues with TSMC, which resulted in a six-week manufacturing delay.

Without specifying the exact cause, Baumann indicated it was related to the increased complexity of 40nm GPUs. This produced lower-than-expected yields, but AMD did not push back their launch dates in response. Coupled with high demand, the company was simply overwhelmed. It is common to see shortages when a highly-hyped device launches. A recent example is the Apple iPhone, which has faced several shortages throughout its history.

The HD 5970 has impressed hardware reviewers and users around the world, easily attaining the title of the fastest card available. If no one can buy it, though, it won't matter -- Nvidia isn't far behind, and will seek to close the gap. Even a shortage lasting only a few weeks could cost AMD greatly.




User Comments: 76

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lfg18 said:

I have a radeon 3850 and it's a very good card, I just can't wait to get my hands on this new cards, anyway I think is very infortunate for AMD to face this shortage since it's the first time in a lot of time since they are in the lead. I prefer Radeaon, their cards tend to be cheaper than those by NVIDIA, so I hope they sort it out soon .

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

No kidding about the shortage. I had a few extra pennies in the bank account so been shopping for a Radeon 5870 and there's literally none to be had. Every company I've Google shopped or Binged for lists the 5870 as being for sale, but also show it as out of stock with earliest delivery at the end of December.

Must be disappointing for AMD who has been 2nd behind nVidia forever it seems. And now that they have better products, can't produce them fast enough.

Deso said:

I've been waiting quite a while now to buy the 5850 :/

I've allways been a nvidia fan and was gonna get the 5850 because there was no way I was gonna wait for the new fermi, now it seams im gonna wait long anyways to get it....

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well, look at it this way... Would you rather have your products sitting on shelves collecting dust while your competition sells their superior product constantly, or be the biggest demand right now and unable to keep the product in stock? AMD may be having supply issues, and sales shortages, but at least they know they have a hot product, and the competition is scrambling to meet the challenge.

The tipping point will be if AMD can't get enough product out there, frustrates too many consumers itching to buy, and then nVidia hits the market with even an inferior (but close in performance) product. If they haven't fixed their supply problems, they may throw the advantage back over to nVidia again, basically shooting themselves in the foot - maybe even both feet, in that case.

deadmongol deadmongol said:

@lfg18 i agree, im also a radeon user, so i prefer radeon rather than nvidia not only its cheaper but the performance is not that far away on nvidia counterparts, and now that it is on the lead with it's new 5970 card, it's facing shortage. I expected shortage though, well it IS the fastest card available after all. you know what i mean.

Didou Didou, Bowtie extraordinair!, said:

They've had the same supply problems with the previous generation (4xxx) & since nVidia uses the company to fabricate their chips (TSMC), they'll probably run into supply shortages as well.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I currently have an HD2600XT and works like a charm, still plays the most recent games and I cant complain, at all!

For once am loving the idea AMD (ATI) is above (even if it is a little gap) Nvidia, always hearing from friends how they love Nvidia cards, and myself with the old 2600 hehe.

vangrat said:

I am currently running a HD4870 as such I may wait for DX11 games to really hit the market, and then swap over to a future ati card, the 5k series looks brilliant however, make's me wonder what the 6k or whatever their next series is will be like.

ColdPreacher said:

I currently run 2 x HD3870's and there fine for now. But judging by the reviews and the shortages the 5xxx series might be my next by.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

i am also one of the people waiting for the 5000 series to get back in stock so i can have my 5850 to gloat about to my friends.

matchu said:

Vrmithrax said:

Well, look at it this way... Would you rather have your products sitting on shelves collecting dust while your competition sells their superior product constantly, or be the biggest demand right now and unable to keep the product in stock?

That might be kind of true, but NVIDIA is going to come up with their next-gen cards, and AMD will lose their advantage.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

This message bought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department:

I am not buying this "shortage" BS, the cards that are being released now (the 5000 and the Fermi) have been in process for at least two years! and 40nm tech is not new either. and now all of a sudden TSMC is getting bad yields? hogwash! ....as grampa used to say. i will bet you that on the day that Fermi is released, there will be enough 40nm wafers for every man,woman, and rugrat to have one if they want.

I also say that there will be a lawsuit brought forth in the calendar year 2010 that alleges that TSMC held back production of the 40nm wafers for their biggest customer Nvidia.

so C'mon everyone! get on board, lets show'em that they cant screw with.....Oh rats! my foil hat fell off......

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

I don't even see why there is such demand... as there are 0 released games that use DX11

I will be waiting awhile before I upgrade anyways...

MrAnderson said:

There is a demand becasue they are competitive with DX10 and they are ready for the future. People who buy this stuff want the latest tech.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

If there was a DX11 title out there that would have everyone rushing to upgrade, this might be a problem. By the time those games roll out these suckers will be at half the price.

bedouinrising said:

the 5970 is incredibly oversized and overpriced - but it blows away the competition on every level.

saintbodhisatva said:

was considering buying a 5x00 series card, but Im still leaning on Dx10 for now, rushing the purchase for these babies wouldn't do much yet for now. Pricing is still somewhat high, no games yet, and they're not even available!

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

im with red on this one it is a load of hog wash that they are having bad yields on a 1 year old process dont make me laugh nvidia is probably paying them to hold ati back which in the end like red said will end in a lawsuit.

Guest said:

Errr, Klepto...I think red was playing the satirical card. But I'm with ya on this...you just know the secret cabal of demonic aliens that REALLY own nvidia and TSMC are setting us up to be mind-controlled by some gizmo in Fermi, You and Charlie should don your red capes and stand at the streetcorner- I'll rendezvous with you when I can.

LazyNinja said:

While I'd love to have a 5790 I don't see it being financially feasible for myself. Maybe a 5750/5770 in the new year when the prices drop a bit.

timljh said:

I just got myself a 5750, it seems that there is no shortage at my place here for the 5000 series but I cant get any 4800 series that I planned to get initially.

mizumi said:

Still waiting for the card to mature first. No real incentive to invest in one now since there's not a lot of DX11 games out there yet. My 4890 still able to support me for my gaming needs. ^^

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

A number of us, myself included haven't had much luck with spare cash for this sort of thing. I'm still using a 9800 gtx +. It serves me well enough but it's showing its age a little bit in terms of framerates on newer games on higher resolutions and detail level. I personally would LOVE to get my hands on a monster like the 5970. I don't even care if DX11 is supported or not with most games yet. I just need a new powerhouse to support me until games that DO use it come out.

But again, like many have already said, none of us are getting one until AMD starts making some better business choices with their card supplies. If they can make a push and get a big supply out to the market in time for the holidays, they're going to rake in a TON of dough and then they can improve their manufacturing and make their 40nm process easier. Whether it's by researching more efficient techniques, or by getting another factory to make these things, it'd be a step in the right direction for them.

wolfram wolfram, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've got a 4850 and I'm pretty happy with it, however Crysis tells me it would seriously love a 5850 =)

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

lol well all i know is the 40nm process is not a new process which means that they should not have problems on yields with it in turn that points a finger in the general direction of the bigger company aka Nvidia catch what im saying?

danteoz said:

I'm definitely looking to get one HD 5000 series card the eyefinity and dx11 will be nice, plus 1GB GDDR5 instead of the 512MB on my HD 2600xt

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Guest said:

Errr, Klepto...I think red was playing the satirical card. But I'm with ya on this...you just know the secret cabal of demonic aliens that REALLY own nvidia and TSMC are setting us up to be mind-controlled by some gizmo in Fermi, You and Charlie should don your red capes and stand at the streetcorner- I'll rendezvous with you when I can.

oh i was having a spot of fun guest, but i am serious. I will bet that within two weeks before, or the week of Fermis launch that this 'bad yield' will go away. if TSMC was having yield problems, they would have known it long ago. just watch, when Fermi is launched, 40nm cards will be superfluous.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I kinda like were Red went with this, the whole Nvidia is controlling the 40nm wafer supply to keep ATI from getting to much of a lead. But if they were that clever they would cut the price of their current stock as to be "competitive" with what ATI came out with. I know Nvidia doesn't understand competitive pricing but maybe just maybe someone will tell them one day and they could lower there prices. It only makes sense, your going to get a 5850 for $300 oh wait its out of stock, well the GTX 285 is now only $250 well thats not such a bad deal. But I'm just dreaming here I guess.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I just got a 5750, too. I think the shortage is mainly for the 58x0 series, which makes sense, since these has twice as many transistors as the 57x0 so get lower yields. NVIDIA has an even larger chip, so suffers even more from this.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Hiya red1776 - I logged in this time (no fun being "Guest" . While TSMC might value nv as a first tier customer, I'd be pretty certain they wouldn't crap all over AMD/ATI regardless of the fact that they will lose at least a portion of their custon to GloFo in future. Might it not be more reasonable to suspect that when ATI ordered their wafers that they thought nvidia might launch Fermi on time and would be looking at splitting potential GPU sales- so simply ordered less to ensure that they weren't carrying excess stock in Q4 (thus improving accounting numbers), and secondly underestimated demand, especially in light of having the DX11 playing field for themselves. Logical or no ?

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Hiya red1776 - I logged in this time (no fun being "Guest" . While TSMC might value nv as a first tier customer, I'd be pretty certain they wouldn't crap all over AMD/ATI regardless of the fact that they will lose at least a portion of their custon to GloFo in future. Might it not be more reasonable to suspect that when ATI ordered their wafers that they thought nvidia might launch Fermi on time and would be looking at splitting potential GPU sales- so simply ordered less to ensure that they weren't carrying excess stock in Q4 (thus improving accounting numbers), and secondly underestimated demand, especially in light of having the DX11 playing field for themselves. Logical or no ?

Hi dividebyzero, and welcome to Techspot

I absolutely do think your position is well thought out and completely plausible, as a matter of fact, i had the thought that AMD would choose to launch now (even with limited supply) to make the bottom line look better at the end of fiscal. so yes I have had the same line of thought. the thing that bothers me (and gets me to my conspiratorial theory) is that 40 nm is not new to TMSC. I really think that shortly after the Christmas season, and when Fermi is about to go public, the 'bad yield will go away.

tell ya what, after Fermi launches, if i am wrong....I will buy you a beer!

Puiu Puiu said:

Even with few products on the market, they are making a lot of profit now. The cards are selling as fast as they are making them and they also sell them for a higher than expected price. But they need to increase yields by the end of this year or at least by the end of January or NVIDIA will be able to catch up to them fast. It all depends on how fast and how good Fermi is.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You "guest" slash "real guys" are cracking me up...

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

red1776 said:

Hiya red1776 - I logged in this time (no fun being "Guest" . While TSMC might value nv as a first tier customer, I'd be pretty certain they wouldn't crap all over AMD/ATI regardless of the fact that they will lose at least a portion of their custon to GloFo in future. Might it not be more reasonable to suspect that when ATI ordered their wafers that they thought nvidia might launch Fermi on time and would be looking at splitting potential GPU sales- so simply ordered less to ensure that they weren't carrying excess stock in Q4 (thus improving accounting numbers), and secondly underestimated demand, especially in light of having the DX11 playing field for themselves. Logical or no ?

Hi dividebyzero, and welcome to Techspot

I absolutely do think your position is well thought out and completely plausible, as a matter of fact, i had the thought that AMD would choose to launch now (even with limited supply) to make the bottom line look better at the end of fiscal. so yes I have had the same line of thought. the thing that bothers me (and gets me to my conspiratorial theory) is that 40 nm is not new to TMSC. I really think that shortly after the Christmas season, and when Fermi is about to go public, the 'bad yield will go away.

tell ya what, after Fermi launches, if i am wrong....I will buy you a beer!

It will be interesting for sure.

My reasoning revolves around the supposedly published material regarding 40nm yields- I think the figure bandied around is 40%- if this is the case (and assuming nvidia/AMD are split equally on wafers) then even with a 100% yield that would mean 2.5 times the HD5xxx in the OEM/retail channel. Would this satisfy demand ?

Secondly, TSMC are themselves quoted as saying that their yields are around 60%* (inferring 1.7 times the availability at 100% yield-which is definitely under the consumer demand) (* source EETimes et al).

Lastly, I'm pretty sure the Altera FGPA contract with TSMC is also 40nm and they haven't reported yield issues, so I agree with you that the yield issue is most likely a bit of a whipping-boy- I just find it a little easier to believe that AMD under-ordered due to the sea of red ink they swim in rather than nvidia putting the squeeze on TSMC, especially as the 40nm GPU market accounts for approx 4% of TSMC's business. If nvidia can do that then what could Altera, Broadcomm, Qualcomm, Marvell, LSI etc do ?

Anyhow, as you say, time will tell. I (and everyone else I think) need both the products and the competition that it brings.Have a great thanksgiving.

And TomSEA...glad to oblige!

sky_could_fall sky_could_fall said:

I'm a Radeon user too. I have 4770 and I'm very pleased with it. I think AMD didn't count that there new GPU would be soo popular. If nVidia doesn't come up with "famous" Fermi they will be loosing lots of bucks because the Xmass fever will be over when they finally put Fermi in the market.

PNagy said:

I have a 3870X2 and when I bought it it was the same issue. The card was unavailable on the market so I had to wait weeks. By the way Nvidia's situation was the same. The 9800GTX and GX2 were the brand new cards at that time but it appeared only at reviewer's sites not in shops.

Styl said:

I've got a 4850 and would love to get my hands on a 5850 or 5870. Probably won't have enough money until next year, though.

Razerblade said:

This is not good for AMD at all! These are some of the best cards around and they need to sell as many as possible. Nvidia will soon bring out a better card which means all the sales for the 5000 range will move to the new Nvidia Series!

Nirkon said:

I'm very curious as to what Nvidia has in store... no

one can be sure it will beat the 5970, so even if its short on stock it might

sell well after nvidia launches their cards as well

Elohim83 Elohim83 said:

To the bosses at ADM: Less apologinzing, more producing the units.

Get to it gentlemen.

Afenix said:

I'm already waiting a month for my xfx 5870... Seem's that i'll get it only after the new year

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't think it's a big deal that AMD have supply shortages in the run up to Xmas, I mean a graphics card isn't exactly a stocking filler for your family & friends, but something that you buy for yourself. But what would be a problem for AMD is if the GT300's turn out to be faster and come to the market sooner than expected.

Still, I guess it's good that AMD aren't raising their prices because they have no competition in the high-end segment, which is not something that could be said about NVIDIA over the last few years...

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

i agree about ati needing to get a fire under there butts and get these video cards rolling so people can enjoy them but also so we can have price wars on the video cards that are out now. i mean who wouldnt want to pick up a gtx 295 for $300? or a 4870 x2 for $200?

Inioch said:

Everyone knows the itch to get a new card every time a new generation comes out.

I've been trying to keep myself from buying one, since my 4870 is still good enough for the things I play.

yorro said:

Good news for people who are still stuck at 06-07 cards.

Afenix said:

EXCellR8 said:

I don't even see why there is such demand... as there are 0 released games that use DX11

I will be waiting awhile before I upgrade anyways...

Battleforge already got a dx11 patch.

Stalker: call of prypiat is already on his way

just like DiRT2

Alien vs Predator

DICE is working on the new frostbite 2 engine

DX11 is coming sooner than you think

BlackIrish said:

wolfram said:

I've got a 4850 and I'm pretty happy with it, however Crysis tells me it would seriously love a 5850 =)

I'm in the same boat as you are - the only problem is that I can't buy the new card (even with the inflated price) because what would I do then with the old 4850 card? If I sell it, I would get like what, $60-70?

Serag said:

@ yorro

completely agreed!..since I am one of them..

too embarrassed tho to say which card I still use...

muljator said:

it's interesting to see that even western countries have supply shortages for hardware once in a while. for us 2nd grade citizens of the world (croatia, europe) it's a every day reality. the funny thing is that we actualy have enough of 5000 series on the market. even 5970, probably becouse nobody wants to buy them at prices of 900$.

vimes1150 said:

I got a 5750, but I plan upgrading to 5850 mid-next year - hopefully by then the shortages will be solved, and prices lower.

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