Wednesday, November 30th 2011
Further to our article yesterday, that AMD was to give up competing with Intel, they have now made a statement which semi-clarifies their future strategy. AMD told The Verge, that they are still committed to x86, but have decided to concentrate on low power, emerging markets and the cloud:
AMD is a leader in x86 microprocessor design, and we remain committed to the x86 market. Our strategy is to accelerate our growth by taking advantage of our design capabilities to deliver a breadth of products that best align with broader industry shifts toward low power, emerging markets and the cloud.This sounds very much like they are giving up competing with Intel in the high-end x86 CPU market, but will instead compete with the likes of ARM, NVIDIA, TI and Intel in the low power market. It doesn't seem like a good strategy however, not least because getting the power use levels of an x86 CPU right down to ARM levels and still have some semblance of performance seems to be an unachievable aim, as Intel has already found out. The problem is that the ancient and complex x86 instruction set dating from the late 1970s, requires complex decode logic and a bigger chip (more transistors) to implement. It also isn't very fast, which is why all the various "turbocharging" technologies and enhancements have had to be applied to it over the years to bring us the fast CPUs we see today. These are all very expensive on transistor budget, power and require a high clock speed. The fact that all modern x86 CPUs are actually hybrid x86 (32-bit) & x64 (64-bit) machines adds an order of magnitude to the problem, as they're almost two CPUs in one. Time will tell whether AMD were right to go down this road.