Sunday, October 20, 2013

Commentary on Ashraf Eassa's Tragedy

Mr. Eassa at SA wrote the this sentimental piece:

And below is my response:

AMD failure to dethrone Intel last time was not solely due to its own fault. AMD's success was then based on major innovation in CPU, namely AMD64 coupled with HyperTransport, IMC and multi-core.

The problem was, Intel secretly copied the AMD64 instruction set into its Netburst architecture. Intel's illegal monopoly also thwarted AMD's market effort. Many companies had been paid by Intel not to use AMD. This gave Intel the time to copycat AMD in all aspects. Intel even used multi-chip shared on an FSB to fake multi-core. Although Intel later had to pay billions of dollars for its illegal moves, the damage to AMD was done.

This time is different.

AMD is integrating three pieces of intellectual property: AMD64, GPGPU and Fabric. 

AMD64+GPGPU leads to PS4, XBox One and more visual computing client deals.

AMD64+Fabric will grab a major chunk of the cloud data center.

Yet another weapon AMD has is the ability to do ARM64. 
ARM64+GPGPU and ARM64+Fabric will be equally potent.

According to some rumors, the next gen AMD chips will have Fabric built-in.

The new AMD is about system level integration on a single piece of silicon. 

Where does Intel stand?

In the APU front, Intel tries to copycat AMD by integrating 3rd party graphics with its x86 cores, but its reliance on third party technology is a major obstacle to its journey to the other bank where AMD is leaping ahead. A plausible proposal for PS4 and XB1 would be an Intel CPU+Nvidia GPU, but both Sony and Microsoft chose the 8-core Jaguar. Microsoft and SONY chose AMD not because they loved Intel less, but because they loved AMD technology more.

With its heavy investment, Intel has always been ahead on FAB process. But that advantage has not stopped ARM from taking over the mobile world nor provided Intel significant performance or efficiency lead over the 28nm process used by the rest of the chip industry. According to Intel, 14nm is going to provide a 30% boost to power efficiency, but that's hardly earth shattering.

More importantly, Intel lacks system level integration.

Friday, October 18, 2013

AMD's transitioning to profitability and beyond

PC will continue to decline.

30% of AMD's revenue now comes from SOCs.

50% of AMD's business will be in new high growth product segments.

More SOC deals to come besides XBox One and PS4.

More Cloud server deals to come.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Intel is a one-trick pony and is very afraid

According to this report,    after the AMD-Verizon Cloud deal, Intel "call[ed] in some of their pro-Intel media to write ..  FUD piece" against AMD.

 Intel is very afraid.


A convergence is going on in chips, but Intel is a one trick pony caught off guard. Intel is missing two major paradigm shifts. One on the client, and one on the server.

On the client front, Microsoft and SONY chose AMD not because they love Intel less, but because only AMD has the solution.

Intelers can brag that their Haswell chips are faster than the 8-core Jaguar in serialized compute load. That is probably true.

But "so what?" is the response from the engineering departments of Microsoft and SONY.

The future is about Visual and Parallel Computing on a single die. No Intel chip can match the 5TFLOPs commanded by GCN 2.0. And with HSA and OpenCL, applications can fully exploit the massive prowess of the APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). 

The situation is hopeless for both Intel and Nvidia.

Stranded in the intellectual property wasteland of GPGPU world, Intel has only one possible way out: getting help from Nvidia.

But even assuming that haughty Mr. Huang agrees to take over Intel's helm, an Intel +Nvidia combination will be too little too late. If you look at the recent benchmarks of AMD GCN 2.0 and Nvidia GTX 7xx, you note that the AMD chips is 2x faster than Nvidia in compute. That is a huge gap and that gap is enlarging.

On the server front, Intel is also missing a major piece of intellectual know-how. The SeaMicro Fabric is indeed revolutionary. The interconnects predating AMD Fabric bridged CPUs and memory banks, and the cloud was based on software virtualization of CPUs.

But the AMD Fabric changed the game, it virtualizes networks and hard drives in hardware, and share them among CPUs. Such technology should be the prerequisite for real cloud computing. 

The employment of Fabric technology will soon be written into the definition of Cloud Compute. Real cloud has fabric. Cloud without Fabric is an emperor with no clothes.

Now you understand, AMD has Intellectual Property assets in (1) CPU; (2) GPGPU; (3) Cloud Fabric, and Intel only has 1.

AMD has the complete set of DNA to father all kinds of custom products. Eager partners, such as SONY, Microsoft and Verizon, all contributed their own genes into their own brain children. And people generally love their own children more than adoptive kids.

Intel may tried to copycat the AMD model, but there is a problem: its only relative strength is in linear computing.

Intel is thus a one-trick pony, and it is afraid.


Monday, October 07, 2013

AMD is smart to let vendors design their own machines

People are usually more emotionally attached to their biological children than adopted kids.

AMD is fathering a lot of brain children, XBox One, PS4, and now Verizon Cloud compute. The most notable pattern is that AMD provides the core genes, but lets its customer design the final product.

Both XBox One and PS4 have the same core AMD intellectual traits, but they differ quite a bit in the selections. Microsoft and Sony injected their own genes into the boxes.

Verizon did not just buy finished AMD micro-servers, it co-designed the system with AMD with hardware modification to suit its software needs.

I predict that AMD's smart strategy will be copycatted by Intel soon.