AMD CEO Lisa Su discusses supply problems and the future of CPUs
CPUs will continue to improve and supply problems will continue to persistBy Isaiah Mayersen 55 comments
In context: AMD's CEO held a small press conference this week during CES 2021 where she discussed the big topics relating to the future of AMD and their corner of the industry. Now that AMD is in a strong position, she believes that they should double down on their own technologies and innovations without worrying about other companies.
Desktop CPUs are AMD's greatest strength, and laptop and enterprise CPUs are the two largest markets AMD has the opportunity to invade – and AMD has no plans to become complacent. Lisa Su says that AMD is placing a heavy focus on Zen 4 and Zen 5, and anticipates them being "extremely competitive" at a minimum.
It was asked, because core counts have remained the same for two generations, if the current numbers - eight for mobile, sixteen for mainstream, and sixty-four for enterprise - would become de facto limits. Lisa Su laughed the question away, confirming that "there will be more core counts in the future - I would not say those are the limits! It will come as we scale the rest of the system."
One of the ways Intel plans on adding cores is by mixing up technologies; they're including high-performance and high-efficiency cores in their Alder Lake CPUs. AMD doesn't plan on pursuing this route, and Lisa Su pointed out that their current designs already scale "very well from entry to enterprise, with the right mix of power, performance, and die area."
AMD does foresee an increase in specialization over "the next couple of years" but Su believes that they're already equipped to handle the challenges. Pointing at consoles, she said that "AMD has a strong semi-custom division to meet those opportunities." She also reiterated her faith in x86, as opposed to the more malleable Arm, describing it as a "strong ecosystem" that merits a heavy investment.
However, AMD can't continue to invest in new products without securing the capacity to manufacture them. AMD do have new GPUs and Milan Epyc processors launching soon. Sadly, AMD are anticipating "tightness in the first half of the year" that will only abate in time for the next round of CPUs and GPUs in the second half of 2021.
Fortunately, AMD do expect that prices will begin to decrease as tariff countermeasures come into effect and Covid-19 issues decrease. They're also willing to undercut OEMs with reference design GPUs (which is pretty funny, if you think about it).
To prevent future supply problems, AMD have invested in the construction of new equipment and facilities. They'll be prepared to handle this level of demand for future launches.