Weekend tech reading: What went wrong with AMD?

By on February 19, 2012, 2:57 PM

AMD: What went wrong? Five years ago, AMD looked set to topple Intel. Now its very existence is under threat. Mike Jennings investigates what went wrong In 2006, AMD could seemingly do no wrong. Its processors were the fastest in the PC market, annual revenue was up a record 91%, expansion into the graphics game had begun with the high-profile acquisition of ATI, and it was making exciting plans for a future where, we speculated, it could "smash Intel’s chip monopoly" for good. PC Pro

Analysis of Haswell's transactional memory One of the most profound challenges for modern software developers is the emergence of multi-core processors. Over the last 10 years, individual CPU cores have grown faster, but applications must be optimized for parallel execution to take full advantage of the power and performance benefits of Moore’s Law. Real World Technologies

Internet Explorer Performance Lab: reliably measuring browser performance Web performance matters to everyone, and one engineering objective for Internet Explorer is to be the world’s fastest browser. To achieve this goal we need to reliably measure browser performance against the real world scenarios that matter to our customers. Over the last five years we designed and built the Internet Explorer Performance Lab, one of the world’s most sophisticated web performance measurement systems. MSDN Blog

Pentagon’s Project ‘Avatar’: Same as the movie, but with robots instead of aliens Soldiers practically inhabiting the mechanical bodies of androids, who will take the humans’ place on the battlefield. Or sophisticated tech that spots a powerful laser ray, then stops it from obliterating its target. If you’ve got Danger Room’s taste in movies, you’ve probably seen both ideas on the big screen. Now Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, wants to bring ‘em into the real world. Wired

Oh my God, entertainment industry people are still pitching for SOPA You'd think that the proponents of SOPA would give up that legislative dead parrot's ghost. But they're still doing the rounds on radio and in print, claiming that millions of Americans were 'duped' into opposing their harmless little internet censorship law. The fresh (!) talking points go like this: Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing and others 'lied' to the public about what SOPA was in the crucial final moments. Boing Boing

OS X Mountain Lion will be Mac Store only, Apple tells us USB key will not be available Apple has confirmed that the next version of its desktop operating system, OS X Mountain Lion, will be available to customers only via the Mac App Store when it comes out this summer. The new update, which is released as a developer preview on Thursday 16 February, means that Apple has finally ditched all form of hard media to distribute all its operating systems... Pocket-Lint

FRANDs forever: how the smartphone industry turned a gentlemen's agreement into a full-scale patent war Until recently, patent licensing arrangements for industry standards like MPEG and 802.11 have been relatively benign and invisible to the general public. Times have changed, though, and the explosion of smartphone patent litigation has made the once unfamiliar acronym FRAND the subject of mainstream conversations. The Verge

Alienware X51: The Xbox with teeth While Alienware isn't openly inviting comparisons to Microsoft's Xbox 360 with their brand new X51 gaming desktop, it's hard not to see the resemblance, at least in form factor. But where Microsoft's aging console continues trudging away with generations old hardware, Alienware has produced an authentic Windows 7 gaming PC in a shell roughly the same size. AnandTech

Redesigned iPad 3 with 8-megapixel camera pictured for the first time Purported images of Apple’s next-generation iPad have been published by Chinese language Apple Daily ahead of the new tablet’s official announcement. The slate had leaked only in bits and pieces until now, however alleged photos of an assembled iPad 3 show a device that is very much in line with earlier reports. Boy Genius Report

ASRock revives the "Blaster" sound card brand in cooperation with Creative ASRock just released a card which is the first sound card outside Creative to bear the name "Blaster" without a worry of a lawsuit. In the past, Creative was very vigilant in protecting the "Sound Blaster" heritage but the company opened to 3rd parties who can manufacture products of required quality. VR-Zone

Nevada passes regulations for driverless cars Last summer, Nevada became the first state in the country to pass a law authorizing the use of driverless cars on its roadways. That law directed Nevada state agencies to complete a set of regulations that would govern their use. Earlier this week, the state announced that those regulations have finally been approved. Forbes

How to optimize your caffeine intake Two doctors at Penn State University have developed Caffeine Zone, a free iOS app that tells you the perfect time to take a coffee break to maintain an optimal amount of caffeine in your blood — and, perhaps more importantly, it also tells you when to stop drinking tea and coffee, so that caffeine doesn’t interrupt your sleep. ExtremeTech

Office on the iPad: A litmus test for the modern Microsoft We know now that Microsoft is working on a touch-friendly version of Microsoft Office for Windows 8. But here comes that age-old question, resurfacing once again: What about Microsoft Office on the iPad? Veteran analyst Rick Sherlund, now with Nomura Research, threw some cold water on the possibility... GeekWire

Single-atom transistor built with precise control Seeking to keep Moore's Law on pace, researchers have developed a repeatable technique for assembling a single-atom version of the transistor -- the building block of semiconductors and computers. CNET




User Comments: 28

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spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

When Phenom quadcores were announced, I built a $2000 rig centered around one of the most expensive AMD chips. It was the first "true" quad-core, as Intel had shared memory caches between cores.

I put it together but it had intermittent issues. From years of experience, I replaced the most likely culprit one at a time until the only part left to replace was the CPU. Sure enough, it was a faulty AMD CPU.

That was the last AMD I ever bought or recommended

Guest said:

Nothing went wrong with AMD..They are STILL offering better bang for buck, even if the more expensive 8100 flopped more.

And I still prefer their graphics to nvidia.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

Nothing went wrong with AMD..They are STILL offering better bang for buck, even if the more expensive 8100 flopped more.

And I still prefer their graphics to nvidia.

Sorry Guest, but just because you're happy with your cheapo processor doesn't mean that AMD is.

Justgivemeaname said:

LinkedKube said:

Nothing went wrong with AMD..They are STILL offering better bang for buck, even if the more expensive 8100 flopped more.

And I still prefer their graphics to nvidia.

Sorry Guest, but just because you're happy with your cheapo processor doesn't mean that AMD is.

It's not fair to call AMD processors cheap. Intel processors are barely more expensive than AMD is. AMD processors are just inferior to Intel.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What didn't go wrong with AMD? I used to market AMD based systems to my customers as a budget model, but after having to rma processor after processor, I quit selling them altogether. I also refuse to pay a premium for their graphics cards just because people can mine bitcoins faster with them (thankfully that scam is almost over with).

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

It comes down to marketing too, which both Intel and NVIDIA are masters of. When's the last time you saw a TV ad for Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, that featured an AMD processor? I'm not saying that AMD isn't pushing their products, but it's just not good enough. Intel dominates the PC market with it's powerful CPUs, and with NVIDIA it's like 1:10 adoption by software developers. I stand behind Radeon graphics because I think they are great products with great features, but at the end of the day it's a numbers game; sooner or later something has gotta give. I think AMD has some serious remodeling to do as a company...

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

It's not fair to call AMD processors cheap. Intel processors are barely more expensive than AMD is. AMD processors are just inferior to Intel.

Sorry I saw "bang for your buck" and thought "cheapo" would be an adequate description.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

...I'm not saying that AMD isn't pushing their products, but it's just not good enough.

Hey c'mon, that's a pretty neat comic book.

I stand behind Radeon graphics because I think they are great products with great features, but at the end of the day it's a numbers game; sooner or later something has gotta give. I think AMD has some serious remodeling to do as a company...

AMD's main failing with graphics is that they have always assumed that all the job entailed was to build the hardware. They have never been a software company. Nvidia on the other hand, recognised very early on that hardware needs a viable software ecosystem to flourish -both from a visibility and repeat custom point of view - hence the early and continued implementation of TWIMTBP and CUDA - the former aimed squarely at gamers, the latter at the pro graphics/workstation market. AMD's failing is to not recognise that high visibility = brand awareness= entrenched buyer brand preference -both through familiarity, and in the pro sector, inertia. AMD are hamstrung by a reliance on a slow moving, slow updating ( a year and a half between 1.1 and 1.2 ?!) OpenCL and a sometimes on-sometimes off gaming program depending on the whims of management.

stan4 said:

I'm glad i don't own anything related to AMD, period.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

After getting my first Phenom II x4 3 years ago or so I have to say it was a little work horse, It never felt like it was slowing my system down, things like Crysis ran between 22-27fps and video encoding and music encoding never really felt sluggish, I just had to leave it a little while depending on quality settings.

November last year I upgraded to a core i7 2600K, I will never EVER look back, everything is pretty much instant or takes a few seconds, Crysis now runs between 35-45fps

Bye Bye AMD, you have been my friend, but you seem to have turned into a Waster on the side of the street getting drunk, once you've cleaned yourself up then I might consider you again.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

On Another note, If Microsoft could bring Microsoft Office to the iPad and do it well, I would buy the app for £10 that would have to include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Would be nice to have Access, Publisher and Visio but not necessary.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

They're not that bad. They're just not that good either. I guess its a question if you have that extra hundred bucks around that it would take to go Intel.

The first few times I went AMD it was strictly due to money issues. But I always advised people to save up a bit more and get Intel, especially if they're building something they're going to play games on.

I suppose if they're good for anything its to have Intel keep their prices lower.

princeton princeton said:

Guest said:

Nothing went wrong with AMD..They are STILL offering better bang for buck, even if the more expensive 8100 flopped more.

And I still prefer their graphics to nvidia.

Good to see the Guests making horrible incorrect posts as usual.

jarulezz said:

AMD make great graphics cards for a good price. AMD > nVidia

Unfortunately, their CPU's are not as good and stable as intel. AMD < Intel

I think they should just quit the CPU market and concentrate on graphics cards, but then that would let intel set their prices as high as they want because they would not have any competition.

This wont turn out well for us, consumers.

PC nerd PC nerd said:

I've had a lot of experience with AMD's processors. To be fair to AMD, other than Bulldozer, I've never been let down by them.

I have a really old computer built around a single-core Athlon 2400+ which still works. I like using it for it's vintage value

A computer I built 5 years ago had an Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.2GHz dual core installed into it. It's still running strong now. 5 years of forcing it to play Crysis, Half Life and CoD1 and 2, with a GeForce 8500, and it still works fine.

My current computer has a Phenom 955 quad core, nicely overclocked to 3.8GHz. Runs most games at high detail with an AMD Radeon 6850.

Unfortunately, I will be turning my back on AMD for my next computer. They don't have anything in the upper tiers of performance anymore. That's intel's turf.

My next computer will be Ivy Bridge-based.

PC nerd PC nerd said:

Radeons are awesome. I've always prefered them to Nvidia.

The 6850 is just over £100 and it's an awesome graphics card. It runs just about anything I throw at it. Crysis 2 at maximum details runs nicely.

ddg4005 ddg4005 said:

The problem with AMD is lack of marketing. Back in their K6 days (around '98)they advertised their processor as an alternative to Intel's expensive offerings. Since then they've done nothing but fumble the ball at the goal line. Had AMD not purchased ATI back in 2006 they'd be dead already.

As it stands their recent announcement that the company will focus on the mobile market (which is already dominated by ARM and Tegra chips) is basically a concession to Intel's dominance (they don't want to be hurt no more). Unfortunately I think it's only a matter of time before they die and their carcass is divvied up between Intel and Nvidia (for graphics and CPUS respectively).

Guest said:

AMD isn't dead, intel have kick *** high end processors, but at the mid range in price and performance AMD is equal if not better than intel. Even in graphic performance their processors kick intel *** pretty hard.

What AMD sucks right now is in the high end, and worst since the commint the stupidity of saying than they will not compite with intel in performance in the future. Since them I believe everyone with performance in mind will think 10 times before buying their next mobo.

EEatGDL said:

After reading the whole article yesterday I think I came up with 2 key impressions: first, my impression about Intel changed radically for their dishonest actions [read the part of "Bullied by Intel"] and I started asking myself how would it have been if not of those dirty Intel's actions.

Second, other thing I didn't quite know for true about the design of Bulldozer is that they used part of the automated ATI's engineering for the design of the processors, and from my point of view ATI is not the most reasonable option to design "few" [in comparison with the hundreds they use on graphics] high performance cores. Just compare: "ATI" uses more than 1600 stream processors on their most powerful consumer graphics cards, while NVDIA can challenge that performance with 512 stream processors. AMD has based most of its marketing and way of thinking in the numbers [watch the specs for AMD vs NVIDIA and the Bulldozer marketing specs vs Intel -8 MB of L2 caché and "8 cores", wow!!], which contradicts their successful and past way of thinking about the MHz myth. Now it's all about supporting higher frequency RAM memories natively, more caché, more GHz, more turbo frequency, more cores, etc. etc. etc. on both processors and graphics cards.

In conclussion, they can still gain terrain if they think more careful on architecture design like they used to do, optimize what they use [XDR2 memory, the difference on cores and frequency] focus in added value like software support in the case of graphics, something like PhysX, etc. etc. several improvements they can exploit and not just build thing with huge numbers. There you have the clear difference [in specs] and still competition of NVIDIA using GDDR3 and less than 400 stream processors vs the back then AMD's implementation of GDDR5 and more than 800 stream processors.

MilwaukeeMike said:

The more you like Intel, the more you should root that AMD keeps nipping at their heels. Competition keeps prices down.

I've used AMD in 4 out of my last 5 builds. AMD's lower prices couldn't compensate for the 2500k's far superior performance. But that computer wasn't for me. I don't need top of the line performance, and I love having the AMD option with 1 step down in performance for 2 steps down in price.

Guest said:

Don't forget about AMD's APU. AMD APU>Intel hd solution>Tegra/ARM

ikesmasher said:

princeton said:

Guest said:

Nothing went wrong with AMD..They are STILL offering better bang for buck, even if the more expensive 8100 flopped more.

And I still prefer their graphics to nvidia.

Good to see the Guests making horrible incorrect posts as usual.

I think what guest was trying to say is its either (for example) a fx-4100 or an i3...and quite frankly, i would rather have a fx.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

It's not fair to call AMD processors cheap. Intel processors are barely more expensive than AMD is. AMD processors are just inferior to Intel.

But there was a time where they weren't. Maybe if you look at the ultra high end then Intel was ahead.. But, I do know that when I had a 1Ghz Athlon Thunderbird that it was a better processor than a 1Ghz Pentium 3.

The problem with AMD is lack of marketing. Back in their K6 days (around '98)they advertised their processor as an alternative to Intel's expensive offerings. Since then they've done nothing but fumble the ball at the goal line. Had AMD not purchased ATI back in 2006 they'd be dead already.

AMD was ahead of Intel in the early Athlon days. Really until the Core 2 Duo came out Intel was playing catchup. AMD even had mainstream 64bit processors in the early 2000s, they just paid the price on those because Microsoft didn't have a mainstream 64bit OS until about 2007.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

But there was a time where they weren't. Maybe if you look at the ultra high end then Intel was ahead.. But, I do know that when I had a 1Ghz Athlon Thunderbird that it was a better processor than a 1Ghz Pentium 3.

AMD was ahead of Intel in the early Athlon days. Really until the Core 2 Duo came out Intel was playing catchup. AMD even had mainstream 64bit processors in the early 2000s, they just paid the price on those because Microsoft didn't have a mainstream 64bit OS until about 2007.

I thought the Japanese Admiral was quoted as saying after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant"......Um well, that's what happened to AMD...!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I thought the Japanese Admiral was quoted as saying after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant"......Um well, that's what happened to AMD...!

And Yamamoto went down in flames not long afterwards....

princeton princeton said:

ikesmasher said:

princeton said:

Guest said:

Nothing went wrong with AMD..They are STILL offering better bang for buck, even if the more expensive 8100 flopped more.

And I still prefer their graphics to nvidia.

Good to see the Guests making horrible incorrect posts as usual.

I think what guest was trying to say is its either (for example) a fx-4100 or an i3...and quite frankly, i would rather have a fx.

The i3-2120 is faster than the FX-4100. The FX-4100 isn't even a quad core like it's advertised. 2 FPUs and 4 integer units.

princeton princeton said:

Milwaukeemike said:

The more you like Intel, the more you should root that AMD keeps nipping at their heels. Competition keeps prices down.

I've used AMD in 4 out of my last 5 builds. AMD's lower prices couldn't compensate for the 2500k's far superior performance. But that computer wasn't for me. I don't need top of the line performance, and I love having the AMD option with 1 step down in performance for 2 steps down in price.

So what CPU did you get? Because in the real world there is no price range above $100 where an AMD offering is better than the equivalently priced Intel.

Guest said:

I have recently bought a AMD Fx bulldozer x4 and it was faster the the i3 I had so AMD isn't all that bad.

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