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AMD The Almighty Buck

AMD Loses $1.2 Billion and Its CEO 373

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the non-sustainable-business-models dept.
Barence writes to mention that after seeing almost $1.2 billion in second quarter losses, AMD's CEO has resigned. Stepping up to fill his shoes will be Dirk Meyer, previous company president and COO. "Only two years ago, the company held a processor performance lead and was making serious inroads into Intel's market. However, AMD failed to keep pace with Intel's Core technology, and it once again surrendered its performance crown at the dawn of the multicore era. Those problems were exacerbated by the bungled launch of the Barcelona processors, which prompted Ruiz to make a frank public apology last December."
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AMD Loses $1.2 Billion and Its CEO

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @12:57PM (#24244415)

    The last thing i want is an intel/ms only world. Bad enough MIPS and PPC have gone the way of the dodo more or less. AMD is the last bastion of creativity in CPUs.

    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:00PM (#24244455)

      I don't want to see AMD fail either, but remember: we'll always have ARM.

      • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:02PM (#24244479)
        Thank heavens for the second amendment!
        • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:58PM (#24245273) Journal

          They can pry my DS from my cold, dead hands!

        • by Erris (531066) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @03:00PM (#24246019) Homepage Journal

          Thank heavens for representative government that works better than our own [slashdot.org]. The EU has been watching Intel for more than 8 years and already has outstanding charges that Intel thwarted AMD sales by selling at a loss. We've all seen how they crushed OLPC. Good for the EU for doing something, we can only hope it's not too little too late given worsening economic conditions.

          The story's "AMD sucks" slant is puzzling. Advantages come and go, but AMD has almost always been better for number crunching since 2000. They also have had significantly better interconnects and architecture for multi core processors. It's like blaming the victim.

          Another factor in this sad story is the Vista failure [slashdot.org] which has hurt all hardware sales. In the last year or so, we've seen spectacular bargains like $500 and less dual core laptops on clearance and the collapse of CompUSA and other big box stores. AMD will suffer more in this downturn because it comes as they were gaining share.

          • Twitter is obviously very intelligent, but under-challenged. Give Twitter a challenging job so he has something to do besides be annoying on Slashdot!

            However, he should not be moderated down when he makes very sensible comments. If Intel is making money because of anti-competitive prices [theinquirer.net], then Intel should be sued by the EU, as the story says.

            The biggest reason why AMD [google.com] and Nvidia [google.com] are near year-to-date lows is because of competition expected from new GPU products from Intel.
    • by dedazo (737510) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:15PM (#24244665) Journal

      Not to worry. History (or the Slashdot version of it at least) will remember AMD being taken down by the evil Intel, and things like AMD having taken to lead in the desktop CPU market or the fact that buying ATI was a phenomenal mistake will be ignored.

      Companies don't die, they're just taken down viciously by companies we don't like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by XPACT (711220)
        AMD had first the 64-bit x86 processor for the mass market. Unfortunately there was no Windows 64 bit to force the market to adopt the 64-bit processing for every day needs. Or may be Intel and Microsoft are in the same bed.
        • by Cocoshimmy (933014) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:41PM (#24247529)
          um...there is a 64bit version of windows, XP64, [microsoft.com] which Microsoft developed specifically for AMD's 64bit processors since at that time Intel was still pushing Itanium. This was available for public consumption not too long after AMD's processors were released and at that time only ran on AMD processors since they were the only producer of 64bit x86 processors. There is also a 64bit version of Vista available which runs on both Intel and AMD CPUs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kneo24 (688412)
        And how exactly was buying ATI a mistake? Every since AMD bought ATI, ATI's driver support has became significantly better. ATI cards have usually had better hardware than NVidia's cards. With the improvement in Driver support plus the better hardware and at lower prices (I hope AMD isn't losing money for the lower cost of these cards), ATI is now finally king of the hill in the GPU segment.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:48PM (#24245115)
      But intel makes processors for Macs now. According to /. rhetoric, they thus cannot be evil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xhrit (915936)
      We have the Cell.
      Long live Transmeta.
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Friday July 18, 2008 @02:09PM (#24245423) Journal
      desktop PPC is an evolutionary dead end, but it's still in consoles, embedded, and servers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      If Boogie Nights is to be believed, any guy named "Dirk Meyer" should have no problem keeping it up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      PPC has gone the way of the dodo more or less

      PPC is everywhere. Wii, PS3, XBOX360. IBM's big iron is all PPC. Power5, Power6

      If you want a desktop PC look at what YellowDog Linux [terrasoftsolutions.com] has to offer. Here's all of the hardware they support [terrasoftsolutions.com].

      Hell even look under the Wiki entry for PPC [wikipedia.org] will show all the current Power/RISC hardware, PPC being one such implementation.

  • Stocks fall (Score:5, Informative)

    by Drakin020 (980931) on Friday July 18, 2008 @12:57PM (#24244421)

    It appears their stocks have dropped 12% on this news.

    http://finance.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NYSE:AMD [google.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mojo66 (1131579)
      With AMD/ATI being the only competitor to Intel and Nvidia, their success guarantees low CPU/GPU prices. As soon as they'd go bankrupt, prices would go through the roof. My next toy will be a 4870.
  • For me, it's all about the graphics. Last computer I bought, I got an Intel CPU, since that was the only way I could get decent 3D. Fortunately, I had little need for high performance. I only needed passable 3D and stability.

    Anyone know what the status of ATI/AMD open source 3D is these days? This will seriously affect my next purchasing decision. If it's any good, then AMD (via ATI, at any rate) will be getting my money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by coolsnowmen (695297)

      I would rather drop a cheap nvidia card in a machine than deal with intel graphics 3d acceleration problems.

    • Last computer I bought, I got an Intel CPU, since that was the only way I could get decent 3D.

      Clarify something here for me: what the hell does your CPU have to do with it? Your GPU is what's pushing the pixels, that's the key component.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Last computer I bought, I got an Intel CPU, since that was the only way I could get decent 3D.

        Clarify something here for me: what the hell does your CPU have to do with it? Your GPU is what's pushing the pixels, that's the key component.

        You may not have noticed, but Intel are the #1 GPU maker, in terms of sales and quality/stability/openness of drivers. Last time I checked you need an Intel CPU, since the GPU is integrated in to the chipset.

        • If anyone is using an Intel GPU, they aren't getting "decent 3D". Intel's GPUs are shit... or at least, every one I've run across was. If you want to get halfway-decent 3D, the first thing you should do with your Intel GPU is throw it out and slap an ATI/nVidia board in there.
    • by Junta (36770)

      How would have AMD impeded use of good 3D cards? Even if you thought nVidia SLI was the only 'good' answer, there are nForce chipsets for AMD with SLI too... I personally don't buy into the price-power-performance ratio of SLI or CrossFire, btw.

      • I can see your point, and it probably won't be until the October/November timeframe at best before distributions will make current-gen AMD/ATI graphics have 3D out of the box in an OSS way.

        I personally used nVidia recently, though this laptop is AMD with their binary driver, which has been improving at least.

      • How would have AMD impeded use of good 3D cards? Even if you thought nVidia SLI was the only 'good' answer, there are nForce chipsets for AMD with SLI too... I personally don't buy into the price-power-performance ratio of SLI or CrossFire, btw.

        You can't get an AMD computer with a 3D card with decent drivers under Linux. My experiences with the NVidia drivers have been less than stellar.

    • Get some sleep, you are not making sense.

      note, I am assuming it is sleep deprivation or drugs.
      But then again, maybe you created a BOT to do /. posts, and it just screwed up. lol
      If you did write one, you have to post a link to the code! But with a GPL 3 licence please, I wouldn't want MS to be able to use it, just think of /. being filled with MS fanboy jibberish! (yes, I know MS could technically use GPL 3.0, but they claim it is viral, and then they might have to opensource everything, lol)

  • Fix it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raijinsetsu (1148625) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:02PM (#24244487)
    I fell in love with AMD many years ago. They had the price and performance edge, and were also more stable than Intel. I think they need to take a step back an evaluate what the hell they're doing. They need to find a way to pull out of the competition while they clean up their act so they can start giving their customers what they want: cutting edge technology. I've read many articles about proposed AMD technologies, but I haven't seen many come to light (glueless HT, is one that comes to mind). Clean up your act!
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#24244503)
    Back at MOT (now freescale) I hear they called him Hector the Sector Director. People were happy to see him go. After his time at AMD, I'd call him "Hector Ruinz".
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#24244507) Homepage Journal
    if instead of buying ATI, the dude spent the money on R&D and actually coming out with products that can compete with Intel CoreDuo, he might not be resigning...
    • But then Intel would have nothing to buy out if/when AMD goes belly up.

    • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:18PM (#24244697) Homepage

      The problem was that Intel wasn't spending money on products that could compete with CoreDuo. They got really, really, really lucky.

      The Core line of chips were originally developed as low-power laptop chips based around an older technology than Intel's "mainstream" chips of the day. Intel's roadmap up until very recently focused on further development of the Pentium 4 and Itanium lines (both of which ultimately proved to be unsustainable)

      One of Intel's development teams in Israel saw the huge potential that the old Pentium III architecture had to be fast and power-efficient, when coupled with a more modern manufacturing process. In the end, the low-end power-efficient chips began to outperform their power-hungry Pentium 4 desktop offerings, and Intel quietly rebranded the line, and began to offer the Core chips as their flagship desktop offering.

      Intel also made a great many mistakes with the development of Itanium, and their reliance on RAMBUS (which was proprietary, expensive, and actually slower in many cases than plain old DDR SDRAM). Their failure to embrace x86-64 could have also easily spelled disaster for the company. In terms of 64-bit development, AMD has always been the clear leader.

      Intel should be counting its blessings, as they've made far more missteps than AMD have. Fortunately for them, they have a massive marketing team and extensive manufacturing facilities, both of which AMD lack.

      Hopefully AMD can make something out of their R&D relating to GPGPUs, and stay viable as a competitor.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:21PM (#24244741) Journal

        Intel should be counting its blessings, as they've made far more missteps than AMD have. Fortunately for them, they have a massive marketing team and extensive manufacturing facilities, both of which AMD lack.

        But more importantly, lots and lots and lots of money. Intel had the financial wiggle-room to come back from some rather colossal errors over the last decade. AMD simply did not. It could stay competitive providing it had a focused plan, but the ATI deal was precisely what AMD could not afford.

      • by Otter (3800) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:25PM (#24244809) Journal

        One of Intel's development teams in Israel saw the huge potential that the old Pentium III architecture had to be fast and power-efficient, when coupled with a more modern manufacturing process. In the end, the low-end power-efficient chips began to outperform their power-hungry Pentium 4 desktop offerings, and Intel quietly rebranded the line, and began to offer the Core chips as their flagship desktop offering.

        I'd hesitate to call that luck, let alone "really, really, really lucky". It sounds like terrific teamwork by engineering, production and management.

        • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:46PM (#24245093) Homepage

          I'd hesitate to call that luck, let alone "really, really, really lucky". It sounds like terrific teamwork by engineering, production and management.

          I'd agree 100%. Intel's R&D group in Israel pulled off a small miracle with their work, and should be highly commended for it. However, from what is publicly known, it seems as if it were almost a sort of "skunk works" project, largely independent of the main R&D efforts of the company. I don't think that there was terribly much being expected from them, and the fact that they were able to deliver an extremely viable product was a fortunate coincidence.

          Intel's main R&D efforts were terribly misguided. It was common knowledge that RAMBUS Itanium, and the P4 line all had serious limitations, and yet Intel continued pushing forward with these products.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Phroggy (441)

            Exactly. Intel got lucky in the sense that this little R&D group in Israel was able to come up with something brilliant, and the company was able to capitalize on it. If the Israeli group hadn't done so, the situation might be much much different.

            That doesn't mean the Israeli R&D group got lucky - they're just brilliant. The company got lucky.

            • by Otter (3800) on Friday July 18, 2008 @02:00PM (#24245305) Journal

              But the Israeli group *did* exist, they *were* given the autonomy to do that work, the management *did* recognize the merits of it and decide to change course, and the production people *did* make it happen! That's not luck! If you don't understand how remarkable all of that is, you've never worked for a huge company.

              What you people all seem to be arguing for, putting all your eggs in one basket and having it work out as you'd planned -- *that* is luck!

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jollyreaper (513215)

                But the Israeli group *did* exist, they *were* given the autonomy to do that work, the management *did* recognize the merits of it and decide to change course, and the production people *did* make it happen! That's not luck! If you don't understand how remarkable all of that is, you've never worked for a huge company.

                The real question is how likely this will be repeated for the next product.

                We don't know how much autonomy this group was granted initially, we don't know how much effort went into this, we don't know what sort of management battles were fought to avoid the smart decision here.

                If Intel has good management, this sort of feat would be easily repeatable and good products will continue to be brought to market. If this smart move turns out to be more of a fluke, if we don't see anything like it again, then it wa

        • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:52PM (#24245173)

          It sounds like terrific teamwork by engineering, production and management.

          Oh, you mean luck!

      • by puto (533470)
        As much of a fan as I have been over the years of AMD the intel core line is nice, even it might be considered a rehash, it still runs cool and quick, and that is what the game is. all about.

        Intel ran with the ball this time.

        There 386 and 486 clones were great chips, and far better than their intel counterparts.

        I remember the Cyrix k5, pretty sucky chip. Then the K6 first runs were hot dog cookers, and the first athlons generated a fair amount of heat as well. I just sunsetted an athlon 1.8 I bought some
      • by corbettw (214229)

        Fortunately for them, they have a massive marketing team and extensive manufacturing facilities, both of which AMD lack.

        OMG! Someone on Slashdot praised a company's marketing team, if only in part, as the reason for their success. Heretic! /sarcasm

      • The real deal is that Intel had some time ago cut back on R&D spending, and AMD made them pay for it.

        Intel realized this, increased R&D spending, and voila - "luck" magically happened.

        Do you think a company with tight R&D funding would have been having ANYONE look at older processors for potential? That's not luck, that's willingness to fund even avenues that might not seem like they have potential.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:08PM (#24244577)

    Better grab those Intel processors while they're cheap, because once AMD goes under, you just know Intel will return to the good old days and jack prices up through the roof.

    Must be nice having no competition in the market.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mmullings (1142559)
      This is what I loved about AMD. When I built a 100+ render farm, I was saving mega money on AMD CPU's. Same bang, less buck. And I strongly believe that AMD is the reason the Intel chips dropped in price so much over the last few years. Wont belong before we buy from Microtel....
  • by damonlab (931917) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:10PM (#24244607)
    I bought and recommended AMD products up until a few years ago. I did that then because they had the fastest / better CPUs on the market at that time. During the last few years I have went with Intel because they have the better products now. If AMD wants my future business, they need to come out with something that beats what Intel has.
    • by John Jamieson (890438) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:22PM (#24244757)

      Sure, but you are part of the 3% that buys leading edge products.(right?) As long as you are in the mainstream BOTH have strengths and weaknesses.

      As long as you are buying a low-mid priced system, AMD competes with intel. If you are a gamer, all that really counts is the Video Card anyway.

      And don't get me started on the Intel Chipsets... remember when they were king? Well, my Core2Duo Centrino laptop chipset has so many bugs... The video performance under Vista and Linux STINKS big time. (WinXP is decent, but not near AMD/ATI's level with the 780g chipset, that chipset rocks )

      AMD is a bit weaker on Laptops now, they have new silicon coming that will change that.

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by avandesande (143899)

        If this was true AMD would still be making money, but the fact is they have to discount their middle range parts below cost to stay competative with Intel.

        Right now AMD cannot compete with Intel.

  • Doomsday? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trayal (592715) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:11PM (#24244623)
    What's with all the doom and gloom predictions and massive stock declines every time one of the 'underdog' companies (AMD, Apple, etc.) has a rough year? These up and down cycles are a natural part of business. AMD still has a lot going for it, and a lot to offer, even if they don't currently hold the technological 'edge' in the x86 market. Given a few years, the picture between Intel and AMD may well switch again - unless too many investors bail out prematurely, of course.
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      unless too many investors bail out prematurely, of course.

      You answered yourself. Such doom/gloom FUD encourages investors to flee, bringing the FUD to fruition. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Intel was connected to a lot of this kind of news.

      • Re:Doomsday? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tyler.willard (944724) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:49PM (#24245135)
        Such doom/gloom FUD encourages investors to flee, bringing the FUD to fruition.

        There is only one case where fleeing investors, and thus dropping stock prices, affects a company: if they need to issue more stock to raise more capital.

        Other than that the stock price doesn't hurt the company since it's already been sold (during the IPO).
    • I was wondering that too.. seems everybody here finds it popular to jump ship at the first sign of bad weather.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      What's with all the doom and gloom predictions and massive stock declines every time one of the 'underdog' companies (AMD, Apple, etc.) has a rough year?

      70%+ of all stock trades are now done by a computer making a decision. These computers aren't trained to look at the long or even medium term. The look at the day to day, week to week trends and trade accordingly. Knowing this, when companies slip up and drop, it can represent buying opportunities. If you think AMD is going to comeback and have another

  • by Junta (36770) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:12PM (#24244631)

    As it stands, it's pretty dire. The question is, can AMD turn around and match the 45nm process with a decent design before the Nehalem generation? I wonder that explicitly because the last bragging point they have is their interprocessor architecture and memory controller, which Nehalem matches. If Intel releases that and the rest of AMD's tech remains as disadvantaged as it is, watch for some of the 4-socket and above space that AMD still has some sway in move to Intel.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:16PM (#24244675) Journal

      My feeling at this point is that AMD is hosed. About the only thing we can hope for is that regulators block Intel from buying them when it finally becomes clear that the show is over. Any other big multigazillion dollar companies with a few billion to spend who want a chip manufacturer? I'd say IBM, but their interests seem to be elsewhere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PhysicsPhil (880677)

        Any other big multigazillion dollar companies with a few billion to spend who want a chip manufacturer? I'd say IBM, but their interests seem to be elsewhere.

        If AMD goes under, I'd bet the Chinese would take a crack at it. Being in such an important industry, government support for a multi-year development effort isn't out of the question.

      • by Junta (36770) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:27PM (#24244829)

        Though I doubt it would ever happen.

        IBM buys AMD, uses circumstances to:
        -Advance the fab capabilities of AMD generally (hopefully invest to actually keep up with Intel instead of lagging by a year or so)
        -Release a Cell processor variant, replacing the PPC core with an x86 core.

        It seems far fetched, but at the same time, the #1 supercomputer is already an AMD/Cell hybrid (two Cell processor packages for every AMD package). However, I wouldn't anticipate that core being any more performance than the PPC core, just a different instruction set. It *could* really cause some grief for intel if it caught on though. The ability to run Windows and games like normal (maybe with a penalty), but SPU enabled software could really make for some amazing media manipulation and incredible games.

      • Microsoft?
  • AMD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:14PM (#24244655)

    I love my AMD systems. What the hell? How can you have a GREAT product, market share, and blow it as often as AMD has.

    I hope they can come back. ATI was such a mistake, EVERYONE knew it was, I shake my head at what passes for management or vision these days.

    You just know the guys that destroy good companies get many millions of dollars while the stock holders get shafted and the stake holders get ignored.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Amouth (879122)

      i agree buying ATI was amistake for AMD - i never in my mind would have seen that comming..

      if nothing i would see AMD buying nVidia and Intel buying ATI. that to me seems like a better match up.

      now Intel woln't use ATI chips on boards as that is supporting their competitor - so they forced Intel into competing the graphics market - which i will say they seem to be doing quite well with.

      while i like ATI (alwasy have like their cards compared to nVidia - i liked that ATI designed and built the cards them sel

    • Re:AMD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Björn (4836) on Friday July 18, 2008 @02:00PM (#24245303)

      ATI was such a mistake

      If the future is an integration of CPU and GPU, ATI might have been a necessary, if expensive, purchase for AMD. Also note that what AMD got was not just the ATI graphic cards, but also the chipsets. The support chipsets were always AMD's week spot.

  • by afabbro (33948) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:19PM (#24244717) Homepage

    ...I'd try to think where I'd last seen it and look there.

    In this case, AMD should be looking at 2005.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:21PM (#24244745)
    The way they mis-managed their semi-conductor division pretty much made that the kiss of death. Great technology and good folks there at both AMD and Motorola, but folks that use to be Motorola Management might as well run around in a bunch of robes chanting for their ability to screw things up.
  • Timing is everything (Score:5, Informative)

    by buddhaunderthetree (318870) on Friday July 18, 2008 @01:25PM (#24244807)

    Hmmm, perhaps just a coincidence but the EU has just expanded it's anti-trust investigation into Intel.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080716-report-eu-to-expand-intel-antitrust-investigation.html [arstechnica.com]

  • by kitsunewarlock (971818) on Friday July 18, 2008 @02:21PM (#24245557) Journal
    There always in the last place there is to look.
  • by jdb2 (800046) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @02:40PM (#24245799) Journal
    Back in 2003, when rumors were circulating about an AMD "K9" processor, everyone thought that a new, revolutionary, designed from the ground up processor architecture was in the works. Actually, it was. AMD was designing an *8-issue superscalar OoOE* 64-bit x86 processor. Basically the Alpha EV8 reincarnated in the form of an x86 chip. ( remember that AMD inherited a substantial portion of the Alpha design team after DEC was swalloed up by Compaq )

    Unfortunately, as usual, management could only see 6-months ahead and the chip was canceled in favour of a 64-bit processor that was cheaper and easier to design and consequently would increase short-term revenue.

    The processor that was hailed as a "revolutionary" x86 design, the Opteron, was, in fact, *directly* based off of the *K7* design. It was basically a K7 with a beefed up datapath, support for SSE2 and other miscellany, an on-board memory controller, and a high speed serial point-to-point interconnect as a replacement for the front side bus ( Hypertransport ) bolted on.

    Now, you would think that the new Barcelona architecture was a great innovation, but not so much. It, like the Opteron, is a heavily leveraged design based off of the previous processor generation, namely the K8.

    To get to the point, the fact is that AMD never truly created a new processor architecture -- they never truly innovated beyond bolting new crap onto old designs. In fact, the basic architecture of AMD's latest design, when you boil it down, is the same as the *K7*. Barcelona is just a ( very ) beefed up K7.

    When you keep designing architectures like this you eventually hit a wall and start to stagnate due to the law of diminishing returns. So, while AMD basically did nothing essentially new with their architecture over the years, it gave Intel ample time to design, *from the ground up*, 5 new processor architectures : The Pentium-M, Core, Core 2, Nehalem, and Atom.

    AMD's worst mistake was the cancellation of the Alpha EV8 inspired "K9" in 2003. Now they are paying for it.

    jdb2

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KZigurs (638781)

      You probably mean one - pentium-m. Core and core 2 is direct spinoffs of it, atom is a beefed up/scaled down modern pentium III.

    • by AnObfuscator (812343) <onering@NosPaM.phys.ufl.edu> on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:45PM (#24248295) Homepage

      Back in 2003, when rumors were circulating about an AMD "K9" processor, everyone thought that a new, revolutionary, designed from the ground up processor architecture was in the works. Actually, it was. AMD was designing an *8-issue superscalar OoOE* 64-bit x86 processor. Basically the Alpha EV8 reincarnated in the form of an x86 chip. ( remember that AMD inherited a substantial portion of the Alpha design team after DEC was swalloed up by Compaq )

      Unfortunately, as usual, management could only see 6-months ahead and the chip was canceled in favour of a 64-bit processor that was cheaper and easier to design and consequently would increase short-term revenue.

      No, they canceled it because it was over-ambitious and couldn't work. The thermals of the design were impossible to manage, and the frequency scaling was predicted to be horrible.

      No halfway-successful CPU company thinks "6 months down the road" like you claim. CPUs take years to design, tape-out, and manufacture, and CPU company management knows this.

      The processor that was hailed as a "revolutionary" x86 design, the Opteron, was, in fact, *directly* based off of the *K7* design. It was basically a K7 with a beefed up datapath, support for SSE2 and other miscellany, an on-board memory controller, and a high speed serial point-to-point interconnect as a replacement for the front side bus ( Hypertransport ) bolted on.

      ... not to mention AMD64, a new ISA based on x86 -- something Intel wrote off as "impossible". It includes 2x the number of GPRs (from 8 to 16), and eliminates tons of legacy cruft instructions from x86.

      The "mode switching" behavior that allows K8 to switch between 32bit and 64bit modes on the fly is pretty impressive, as well.

      So, while AMD basically did nothing essentially new with their architecture over the years, it gave Intel ample time to design, *from the ground up*, 5 new processor architectures : The Pentium-M, Core, Core 2, Nehalem, and Atom.

      AMD's worst mistake was the cancellation of the Alpha EV8 inspired "K9" in 2003. Now they are paying for it.

      jdb2

      What the fuck? Pentium-M, Core, Core 2, etc are not "revolutionary, from the ground up" architectures. In fact, the basic architecture, when you boil it down, is nothing more than a "very beefed up" P6 -- AKA Pentium Pro -- which predates even K7.

      I don't disagree that K9 is a disappointing warm-over of K8, but truely "new" cpu architectures don't come around all that often. Power6 is "beefed up" Power5, which is "beefed up" Power4, etc. A good architecture can last a very long time, and it's wasteful and dangerous to throw out a proven design for an unproven "new" design -- see NetBurst for an excellent example.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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