Wednesday, September 12th 2018

AMD CEO Speaks with Jim Cramer About the "Secret Sauce" Behind its Giant-Killing Spree

Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money interviewed AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su on the floor of the NYSE remarking her company as the year's biggest tech turnaround stories. The two spoke a variety of topics, including how the company went from a single-digit stock and a loss-making entity to one of the hottest tech-stocks, which threatens both Intel and NVIDIA. Dr. Su placed emphasis on taking long term strategic decisions that bear fruit years down the line.

"We decided to make the right investments. Technology is all about making the right choices, where we're going to invest, and where we're not going to invest...three or four years ago, it was mobile phones, tablets, and IoT that were the sexy things, and we were like 'hey we know that those are good markets, but those are not AMD.' We focused on what we thought the future would hold for us," said Dr. Su. "We are making decisions now that you won't see the outcome of for the next 3-5 years. We're making some good decisions," she added.
AMD Can Stay Competitive Even If Intel Sorts Out Its Foundry Mess
AMD is armed with a deep CPU architecture roadmap going all the way down to "Zen 5," stated Dr. Su. She seems to express pride in some of the investment decisions taken in designing AMD processors, such as the way AMD is building its EPYC chips (a multi-chip module as opposed to a monolithic die that would have eaten up far more resources to design and manufacture alongside a smaller die). Right now AMD only has to manage two dies - a CPU-only die that builds Ryzen and EPYC processors; and a CPU+GPU die for Ryzen with Vega APUs and some of the company's mobile Ryzen SKUs.

There Can Be Many Winners in the GPU Market
Cramer's interview focused on the secrets behind AMD's giant-killing feat against Intel, which is saddled with not just a dated CPU architecture peppered with security holes, but also silicon fabrication foundry issues that are preventing an advance from 14 nanometer. Dr. Su mentioned that AMD does not count on competitors underperforming, and is mindful that the competition is "very strong." Towards the end of the interview, almost like a "one more thing," question, Cramer questioned how AMD's rivalry with NVIDIA is going. Dr. Su's response was crafty.

In the first part of her response to that question, she mentioned that "competition is good for the marketplace and GPUs is a great market, but I've always said that there can be multiple winners in this market." With this, AMD hinted that although its market-share in the discrete gaming GPU market is on the decline, there are areas where the company is winning. AMD rode, although conservatively, the crypto-mining boom over the last year with highly marked-up graphics cards; and is dominating the game console semi-custom SoC market.

AMD is Helping Both Microsoft and Sony with Their Own "Secret Sauce"
Elaborating on AMD's partnerships with competing firms Microsoft and Sony (in the gaming console market), Dr. Su stated that her company is providing semi-custom chips, and is helping both firms develop their own "secret sauce" for their consoles. The partnership with Microsoft spans not just consoles but also Windows and Azure. AMD could be working with Microsoft in future cloud-computing projects driven by its EPYC and Radeon Pro/Instinct products. "Our strength is that we can work with all customers and we can differentiate for each one of them."

You can catch the full video in the source link below. Source: CNBC
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99 Comments on AMD CEO Speaks with Jim Cramer About the "Secret Sauce" Behind its Giant-Killing Spree

#1
RejZoR
I really hope AMD gets their shit together with graphic cards as well. ZEN processors are doing really well. They might not be total Intel killers, but they are very competitive and that's what matters the most.
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#2
notb
Clearly missing "advertorial" tag.
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#3
Solidstate89
Really? Jim Cramer? Was there no stuffed bust of a honey badger lying around that could fill in and do a better job?
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#4
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
"RejZoR said:
I really hope AMD gets their shit together with graphic cards as well. ZEN processors are doing really well. They might not be total Intel killers, but they are very competitive and that's what matters the most.
GPUs are a terrible way to make money. AMD makes more money selling a $150 Ryzen 5 processor than a $300 Radeon RX 500 graphics card, because the actual GPU is probably < 35% of the card's cost, earns fewer dollars-per-transistor than CPUs, and then you have to babysit the GPU for years with monthly driver updates, optimization, and blah blah (which costs money). You also have to throw money at new expensive IP like RTX. With CPUs, you sell the processor without any AIB partner co-branding, and then you forget about it unless something like Spectre happens. Chipset driver updates aren't nearly as regular or critical as GPU drivers.

I guess what AMD is trying to do now is make a ton of money (or market cap), and make a big investment in a brand new GPU architecture (i.e. not a GCN evolution), after it achieves sufficient financial cushion. Until then it will be a pest for NVIDIA.
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#5
las
Meanwhile AMD completely lost the GPU market after GPU mining dried out

"btarunr said:
GPUs are a terrible way to make money.
Not sure Nvidia agrees on that
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#6
Fouquin
"btarunr said:
With CPUs, you sell the processor without any AIB partner co-branding, and then you forget about it unless something like Spectre happens. Chipset driver updates aren't nearly as regular or critical as GPU drivers.
AMD does have AGESA which, by the looks of the available UEFI updates for X370 platforms, is updated practically every single month. Not insignificant, but you are correct it is likely a much smaller effort than GPU drivers and utilities.
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#7
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
"las said:
Not sure Nvidia agrees on that
If NVIDIA had an x86 license, it would have dumped GPU-making completely.
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#8
RejZoR
Still, market is a market and if you have a complete ecosystem you can offer, you'll be doing great (which is whsy Intel is doing great despite many setbacks through time). If AMD didn't have CPU division, they'd be in massive trouble with GPU part having huge problems. And same goes vice versa during the Bulldozer era when Radeon division was doing great. Without it, AMD would be in huge trouble. The fact they offer both CPU and GPU also secured their position on consoles and many other embedded systems. Because integrators just walk to a single company and have things sorted out, opposed to dealing with minimum of two external partners. It just all adds up and while NVIDIA may be doing great, they'll come to a point when they'll have huge problems because of this. Not now, not in 5 years and maybe not in 10 years, but unless they really think things through right, they will get to that point. And it's going to suck for them.
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#9
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
"Fouquin said:
AMD does have AGESA which, by the looks of the available UEFI updates for X370 platforms, is updated practically every single month.
AGESA updates are extremely insignificant and low-cost compared to GPU driver updates. You don't update your motherboard BIOS every month (and not every BIOS update packs an AGESA update).
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#10
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
"las said:
Meanwhile AMD completely lost the GPU market
Not so... Their GPUs are used in the newer Xbox's and playstations. They havent lost the GPU market at all. They are just more lowkey about it.
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#11
Fouquin
"btarunr said:
AGESA updates are extremely insignificant and low-cost compared to GPU driver updates.
AGESA is significant in utility as every AMD platform in the last decade requires it, but the manpower attributed to its production is probably insignificant, yes.

"btarunr said:
You don't update your motherboard BIOS every month (and not every BIOS update packs an AGESA update).
No disagreement with that statement, however, the frequency with which the end user updates their UEFI has no bearing on the frequency of updates available, yes? AMD does not run by your clock, is essentially what I'm saying.

It does appear as though AGESA is a 'take it if you please' kind of thing for motherboard vendors. I've noticed that not all vendors offer the absolute latest release, while some seem to offer just about every single release.
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#12
las
"btarunr said:
If NVIDIA had an x86 license, it would have dumped GPU-making completely.
Well they have ARM licence, still didn't make much.

"FreedomEclipse said:
Not so... Their GPUs are used in the newer Xbox's and playstations. They havent lost the GPU market at all. They are just more lowkey about it.
Sony and Microsoft pays peanuts for those low end custom APU's. AMD is not the winner here. I'm obviously talking about PC GPU marketshare.
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#13
Fouquin
"las said:
Well they have ARM licence, still didn't make much
They wasted it on Tegra, which Nintendo then put in the Switch and converted to 19,670,000 units sold globally.

Oh. Hang on a sec...
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#14
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
"Fouquin said:
but the manpower attributed to its production is probably insignificant, yes.
Extremely insignificant. AMD probably has 6-8 engineers developing and testing AGESA, who aren't even doing that full-time. On the other hand, it takes dozens of engineers, endless back-and-forth with game devs, and a Russia-based testing/optimization team with dozens more people to keep the "Game Ready" cycle working. Millions of dollars per driver update, and hundreds of millions spent over the GPU's lifecycle.

This is why I think AMD will only invest in a new big GPU if that GPU can crush NVIDIA's big GPU. Until then it will stick to lower segments (bigger market), or semi-custom work. Investment into said big GPU will only happen when AMD has a ton of disposable income from selling CPUs.

If Lisa Su is as smart as I hope she is, she will spin-off Radeon as a separate company once she's confident AMD has a CPU market leadership that is sustainable.
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#15
las
"Fouquin said:
They wasted it on Tegra, which Nintendo then put in the Switch and converted to 19,670,000 units sold globally.

Oh. Hang on a sec...
Not really. Nvidia had tons of tegra chips lyind around, and convinced Nintendo to use them for Switch. Which is slow AF and barely does 720p 30 fps stable. Docked is 15-30 fps using "up to" 1080p.
Nvidia barely made profit on Tegra (considering R&D costs). 20 millions chips is not that much btw. 1/4 of PS4 total sales.
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#16
StrayKAT
"Solidstate89 said:
Really? Jim Cramer? Was there no stuffed bust of a honey badger lying around that could fill in and do a better job?
I'm a Maria Bartiromo fan myself.

Not alwys for business news reasons. :p

It's really strange to such glowing positivity about Zen, but negativity about Vega. It's not that even bad! * Says the oddball Intel user with Vega*
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#17
las
"StrayKAT said:
I'm a Maria Bartiromo fan myself.

Not alwys for business news reasons. :p

It's really strange to such glowing positivity about Zen, but negativity about Vega. It's not that even bad! * Says the oddball Intel user with Vega*
Performance per watt, yes Vega is really bad.

7nm should solve some of this.
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#18
StrayKAT
"las said:
Performance per watt, yes Vega is really bad.

7nm should solve some of this.
OK, I understand that. But it's not a metric I pay much attention to.. since I'm almost exclusively using desktops now. And have plenty of wattage to spare. Still haven't even undervolted my Vega. :D
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#19
R0H1T
"StrayKAT said:
I'm a Maria Bartiromo fan myself.

Not alwys for business news reasons. :p

It's really strange to such glowing positivity about Zen, but negativity about Vega. It's not that even bad! * Says the oddball Intel user with Vega*
Unfortunately she's with Fox'n Friends atm & peddling their propaganda/agenda :mad:
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#20
StrayKAT
"R0H1T said:
Unfortunately she's with Fox'n Friends atm & peddling their propaganda/agenda :mad:
Propaganda is hardly what I'd associate her with. I like business news in general because at the end of the day, they mostly care about numbers and performance. Doesn't matter what channel, fortunately. And all of them happen to be roughly the same, at least on that bottom line.
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#21
las
"StrayKAT said:
OK, I understand that. But it's not a metric I pay much attention to.. since I'm almost exclusively using desktops now. And have plenty of wattage to spare. Still haven't even undervolted my Vega. :D
Generally Vega 64/56 performance is "fine" but watt usage is a problem for some since it heats up the entire PC and room. If you live in a cold place maybe it's a good thing :p

Vega 64 is around GTX 1080 performance I think. So it's decent.
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#22
R0H1T
"las said:
Generally Vega 64/56 performance is "fine" but watt usage is a problem for some since it heats up the entire PC and room. If you live in a cold place maybe it's a good thing :p

Vega 64 is around GTX 1080 performance I think. So it's decent.
Would be really interesting to see how RTX affects perf/W with all the Jigarays.
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#23
StrayKAT
"las said:
Generally Vega 64/56 performance is "fine" but watt usage is a problem for some since it heats up the entire PC and room. If you live in a cold place maybe it's a good thing :p

Vega 64 is around GTX 1080 performance I think. So it's decent.
Unfortunately, I'm in the desert in Texas :\ I hate the weather here.. but the room the PC is in has a wall unit AC keeping things pretty chill most of the time.
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#24
TheinsanegamerN
"las said:
Generally Vega 64/56 performance is "fine" but watt usage is a problem for some since it heats up the entire PC and room. If you live in a cold place maybe it's a good thing :p

Vega 64 is around GTX 1080 performance I think. So it's decent.
Vega 64 SHOULD be around 1080 performance. IME, the vega 64 can vary wildly. In some games it's a bit faster and other times it barely reaches the 1070.

There is also the issue of drivers. 18.5.1 was a great driver, but all the 18.6, 18.7, and 18.8 drivers have been hot garbage, with blackscreen crashes and outright system freezes reported by many users (myself included).

I want AMD to succeed, I just bought a ryzen 1700 and am eagerly awaiting zen 2, but AMD has the consistent problem of after-sale support, and once they prioritize one part (CPUs) they let the other parts (GPU, driver teams) wither on the vine.
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#25
Vya Domus
"btarunr said:
she will spin-off Radeon as a separate company once she's confident AMD has a CPU market leadership that is sustainable.
I hope not, that's a terrible idea. An independent GPU vendor would not survive with the current market conditions going up against Nvidia. If they ever manage to get back a lot of market share in the consumer PC space, I hope Lisa or whoever will be in charge then is smart enough to hold onto their GPU division.

This notion that their GPU division is a liability to AMD is just plain wrong. If anything it was the only reliable source of revenue ever since they acquired it.
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