Wednesday, June 26th 2019

Intel Internal Memo Reveals that even Intel is Impressed by AMD's Progress

Today an article was posted on Intel's internal employee-only portal called "Circuit News". The post, titled "AMD competitive profile: Where we go toe-to-toe, why they are resurgent, which chips of ours beat theirs" goes into detail about the recent history of AMD and how the company achieved its tremendous growth in recent years. Further, Intel talks about where they see the biggest challenges with AMD's new products, and what the company's "secret sauce" is to fight against these improvements.
The full article follows:

Introduction
We are now entering the latest chapter of the tech industry's single longest-running business rivalry. Intel and AMD have been competing for many of the same chip customers for more than 50 years.

Both firms were launched within just a few miles and a few months of each other in Silicon Valley in July 1968 (Intel) and May 1969 (AMD).

Although over the last five decades Intel has grown to more than 10 times the size of AMD - $70.1 billion versus $6.48 billion in the most recently reported annual revenues - the two companies are now competing fiercely across several market segments.

By most accounts, the competitive threat to Intel from AMD is the greatest it has been in years.

At the same time, CEO Bob Swan reminded employees just last week that "our ambitions are as big as they've ever been." In his June One Take video, Bob said that that our transformation to a "customer obsessed" company will serve us especially well as we "deliver the best partnerships" in the industry to confront a variety competitive threats.

This is the context in which the latest AMD vs Intel struggle is playing out.

Following AMD's recent product announcements at Computex and the E3 gaming conference, this profile - the latest in a Circuit News series on Intel's major competitors such as TSMC - examines AMD and the challenges that company is posing to some of our businesses.
Why AMD is now a formidable competitor
AMD is getting bigger. The company's most recent annual report notes that 2018 marked the firm's "second straight year of greater than 20% annual revenue growth," in large part due to its newest Ryzen products for desktop, and EPYC for enterprise, cloud, and datacenter.

As Intel's major CPU competitor focuses on Intel's enviable share across several market segments, AMD is attracting increasing interest on Wall Street. It was the best-performing stock on the S&P 500 in 2018, and to date this year the stock price has risen significantly.

What accounts for AMD's resurgence as a formidable Intel competitor? In part, it may be the company's strategic re-focus on premium high-performance products for the desktop, datacenter, and server market segments. (Dive deeper on this and related questions in the Q&A below with Intel competitive expert Steve Collins.)

Key AMD competitive threats are from high-end products
At a high level, the experts on Intel's Performance, Power and Competitive Analysis team say that the competitive threats that AMD poses to Intel can be summarized as follows:
  • AMD offers high performance CPUs, posing direct competition to Intel in both our core client and datacenter CPU businesses. With our announced ambitions to bring new discrete graphics to market, we are bringing new competition to both AMD's and NVIDIA's graphics businesses.
  • AMD has recently been gaining some traction in winning public cloud offerings. And competition from AMD is shaping up to be especially tough in high performance computing. HPC performance is usually driven by the number of cores and the number of memory channels (or memory bandwidth). Intel is challenged on both fronts.
  • AMD's upcoming next-generation Zen-core products, codenamed Rome for servers and Matisse for desktop, will intensify our desktop and especially server competition. The latter is likely to be the most intense in about a decade. At Computex, AMD announced that Matisse, the company's 3rd Gen Ryzen 3000 series processors, would be available starting July 7. (See "Related links" section below for details on Intel's Computex news relating to our gaming and client competitiveness.)
  • Outside of desktop and servers, Intel's competitive position in notebooks and business PCs is stronger as customers value specific aspects such as productivity performance, battery life, and overall manageability where Intel has clear advantages versus the competition.
  • By leveraging TSMC's 7nm manufacturing - AMD no longer manufactures its own chips - AMD can drive higher core counts and higher performance than it could previously with Global Foundries as its in-house manufacturer. These 7nm products will amplify the near-term competitive challenge from AMD. At Computex, Intel launched our own 10nm "Ice Lake" products - 10th Gen Intel Core - to strongly positive reviews.
Challenging period ahead
What is Intel's positioning regarding these multiple competitive threats? Today and into the near future, says Intel's AMD competitive expert Steve Collins, "we will be facing tough competitive challenges."

These are a few key points on how Intel's products compare to AMD's, points that Intel will be underscoring in the challenging period ahead.
  • Intel 9th Gen Core processors are likely to lead AMD's Ryzen-based products on lightly threaded productivity benchmarks as well as many gaming benchmarks. For multi-threaded workloads, such as heavy content creation workloads, AMD's Matisse is expected to lead.
  • In the longstanding industry debate over benchmarks - whose to use? - Cinebench is often used by AMD, since it favors high core/thread count and represents one of the best-case benchmarks for AMD. Intel believes that Cinebench is not a representative benchmark for general platform evaluations and real life workloads. Intel continues to work with press on using real applications for evaluating performance, to produce pieces such as this one from PCPerspective.
  • In general, Intel's mainstream Xeon server products will be challenged on throughput-oriented benchmarks that scale well with core count. Architecturally, AMD's Rome product for servers is improved over 1st generation EPYC, but Xeon is still expected to have cache and memory latency advantages. For this reason, Intel still expects Xeon to be competitive on applications that require fast response times and are sensitive to memory latencies like database, analytics, web serving, and so on.
Intel's secret sauce
Intel's secret sauce is not a single ingredient. Rather, it is the six pillars of innovation - process, architecture, memory, interconnect, security, and software - that the company laid out at last year's Intel Architecture Day. Intel is uniquely positioned, given our assets, to to deliver leadership products leveraging these six pillars.

Our competitive experts believe that Intel's ambition to achieve long-term leadership will hinge on successful execution to these six pillars.

Software, one of the six pillars, has long been an unheralded Intel advantage. A key piece of our company's competitive strategy is to highlight our software smarts vis-à-vis AMD. Intel-designed software or software code contributions - which can touch everything from the Linux kernel to Adobe Lightroom - can capitalize on unique features in Intel architecture.

These often under-the-hood software assets differentiate Intel from AMD and can deliver a better experience to end users and customers. One metric of Intel's software strength: Our company's 15,000 software developers. That number is more than all of AMD's employees.

A final but essential point that Intel's competitive team underscores is that Intel versus AMD is not just a chip-to-chip matchup. Intel's unique strengths lie in the unequalled breadth of our overall portfolio across business, mobile, desktop, gaming-as well as platform advantages including Optane memory, WiFi, Thunderbolt, Turbo Boost 2.0, and other technologies.

A high-profile example of Intel's focus on platforms is Project Athena, a multi-year innovation program that aims to deliver a new class of advanced laptops. Another key Intel advantage is all the built-in acceleration for emerging workloads such as networking and AI. Features like Intel Deep Learning Boost, along with all the software and framework optimizations, create clear differentiation versus AMD.

Steve Collins Q&A: Why AMD is resurgent, and what we must do next
To provide additional color and context on the Intel-AMD competitive environment, we talked recently with Steven Collins. He is the Director of the Data-centric Competitive Assessment group on our company's Performance, Power and Competitive Analysis team.

Q. Why does it matter that AMD is going to TSMC for manufacturing?
  • It means that they have the flexibility to use whatever process technology they want, whatever process is best for their products. TSMC offers an advantage in terms of process node advancements. [See the Circuit News competitive profile on TSMC.] They're using their 7 nm process, and with that they get a per-core frequency bump and lower power, which means they can scale to more cores per processor.
  • On top of that, AMD made improvements in their 2nd generation Zen core and their disaggregated chiplet-based architecture scales cores efficiently. Therefore, on workloads that are heavily threaded, including heavy content creation and most server workloads, they'll get great performance results. And on price, we expect their pricing to be significantly below ours. So they'll likely get good performance-per-dollar. That's what they're going to compete on, and that's the risk to Intel.
Q. So that raises the obvious point: How do we respond when people say "Wow, AMD is charging a lot less for their products than Intel."
  • It's not well understood that Intel actually offers the market a larger selection of product pricing. While the press often likes to focus on Intel's top price points being higher than AMD's top price, few people recognize that Intel also offers lower entry pricing than AMD. So Intel offers more price point choices to our customers.
  • Additionally, I would say users don't buy a chip. They buy a system. They buy a whole solution that includes software enabling, vendor enabling, validation, technical support, manageability, out-of-box experience, supplier sustained consistency, and more. So, yes, while an OEM or ODM might buy a chip, the end user doesn't generally buy only a chip. We believe that our product pricing vis-à-vis AMD reflects the great deal of added value that specifically comes from buying Intel with our decades of unmatched investments in validation, software, and security.
  • Especially for enterprise customers, acquisition cost is just one part of the total cost of ownership. Customers using an alternative solution may need additional validation, optimization, debugging, and certifications - all normal cost adders when introducing a new solution in an IT environment. Additionally, some software is licensed per core and therefore more cores from the AMD solution results in higher licensing costs.
  • Performance challenges absolutely exist, but we will continue to position our value and our advantages. Some innovations we bring to the table that deliver customer value may not always result in higher performance benchmark scores, or the value of the innovation goes beyond standard benchmark results. We price to what our customers value.
  • Intel is a premium brand. At times, and on some workloads, we might dip below on performance, like the second half of this year. At other times, and on other workloads, we are 3x or more the performance. Our pricing will continue to reflect the value we deliver to our customers.
Q. What accounts for AMD's competitive resurgence? Did TSMC turn AMD into our biggest competitor, or is it AMD's focus on higher-end desktop and server parts?
  • From 2006 to 2017, AMD had positive net income only three of the twelve years. I'm not sure we can point to a single thing that turned AMD around. But I do think it's was absolutely rooted in the strategic changes AMD initiated in 2015/2016 that narrowed and simplified their focus. AMD shifted to focus on higher margin or premium segments, specifically high-end client, datacenter, graphics for gaming. And they continued their investment in their semi-custom and console business.
  • Rather than going after lower-margin, low-end products, they refocused on how to win higher-margin business. AMD added much-needed clarity since they were previously distracted by markets that didn't align with their strengths. They simplified their investments and roadmap and started leveraging best-in-class foundries. Most importantly, they executed to that strategy. Having a clear focus and direction helps enable great execution.
  • I also believe AMD's comeback was a result of being very product-centric. A top priority for AMD was building great products - high-performance compute and graphics solutions - from definition to development to delivery.
Q. How do you think we should be looking overall at the Intel-AMD competitive picture right now?
  • Well, first, it's clearly a challenging time. We have significant competitive challenges to navigate. That said, I think we have a great strategy and a great roadmap.
  • While it has been a number of years since we've faced a similar competitive environment (in the early 2000s with 1 GHz barrier, integrated memory controller, 64-bit, and so on) Intel has risen to every situation and almost always emerged better and stronger.
  • Our focus needs to be on getting our execution in shape as soon as possible. We're in a competitive time partly because of our execution issues, whether that's related to our process technology node, or to our products that intercept those nodes. So I think that execution to our roadmap and strategy will help tremendously.
  • Beyond product execution, we need to lean on our software expertise and strength and amplify our software differentiation - now more than ever.
  • Finally, in competitive times, overall marketing, ensuring our customers understand our differentiated value proposition, along with customer obsession, are critical. Now more than ever, we need to lean into our sales and marketing teams to help carry us through these product challenges.
Q. And your last point touches on our cultural transformation, too.
  • Yes. AMD's next gen 7nm-based products amplify our competitive challenges. While it has been a number of years since we've faced similar competition, Intel has risen to every situation and almost always emerged better and stronger. Are we acting as One Intel or are we stepping on each other's toes? Are we facing our challenges with truth and transparency?
  • Are we listening to our customers and designing the right things in the first place? I think it all goes back to these things. As we succeed at these cultural transformations, I believe our overall competitiveness will improve too.
  • I'd encourage all employees to browse the Intel resources at the bottom of this story, especially competition.intel.com. This is where, for example, we will publish data on AMD's upcoming Zen 2-based systems.
  • Finally, I would say that even in the face of strong competitive challenges, when all 107,000 of us behave as One Intel, as CEO Bob Swan has said, we are unstoppable.
Source: Hardwareluxx
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128 Comments on Intel Internal Memo Reveals that even Intel is Impressed by AMD's Progress

#1
Mamya3084
Is this the memo the sales team need to imprint in there brain when they start hitting the data centers and oems to sign new sales contracts?

It's pretty good wording. If I worked there I wouldn't be worried about AMD at all.
Posted on Reply
#2
birdie
What a long post to say, "We've completely fücked up the transition to 10nm, it is backfiring in a major way and we don't know how to compete with vastly superior AMD offerings but we believe our old partners will still keep on choosing our solutions because we deem ourselves "premium" and in some rare workflows we are faster".

WTF, Intel? You've had five fücking years to hone the 10nm node. You very well understood all the way that it didn't work. Why didn't you renege on it and try something completely different? Why do TSMC and Samsung seemingly have no issues with their comparable 7nm nodes (considering the volume of 7nm products including Vega VII and Ryzen 3)? You had all the money in the world to develop and offer the 10nm node years before TSMC/Samsung. And you still haven't caught up.
Posted on Reply
#3
Fabel
This totally wan't intended to be leaked from the let go of course, but what is it, the script for an infomercial?

While giving some credit to AMD, and I think some unnamed recognition to Lisa Su, they are totally disconnected from reality if they really think this thing paints their new reality.
Posted on Reply
#4
HwGeek
IMO AMD couldn't even dream on such great circumstances when they were working on Zen2, They thought they will compete with 10nm parts with better IPC as Intel's showed so they thought it will be the same situation like first Gen EPYC 32C vs Xeon 8180 and Ryzen 2700X VS 9900K, but now they see that there is no competition from Intel since it's 10nm parts are delayed again and show less frequency.

So looks like Intel themselves made Zen2.0 such a winner product.
And you you consider the number of employs Intel has over AMD- it's just makes Intel look even worse.
Posted on Reply
#5
64K
The only way that I can figure Intel is that they got complacent being on top for so long. Tech progression stagnated and they were for a long while selling 4 core 8 thread CPUs for what they should have been selling 6 core 12 thread CPUs for. It's the same lesson over and over again. When there is a lack of competition then the company on top charges more for less value and tech stagnates.
Posted on Reply
#6
dorsetknob
"YOUR RMA REQUEST IS CON-REFUSED"
Between the lines reading :)
" Short Term Buy AMD Shares.
long term Buy more AMD Shares"
Posted on Reply
#7
Crackong
That's is some really tidy "Shouldn't be leaked Internal Memo" :)
Posted on Reply
#8
oxidized
birdie, post: 4070242, member: 131299"
What a long post to say, "We've completely fücked up the transition to 10nm, it is backfiring in a major way and we don't know how to compete with vastly superior AMD offerings but we believe our old partners will still keep on choosing our solutions because we deem ourselves "premium" and in some rare workflows we are faster".

WTF, Intel? You've had five fücking years to hone the 10nm node. You very well understood all the way that it didn't work. Why didn't you renege on it and try something completely different? Why do TSMC and Samsung seemingly have no issues with their comparable 7nm nodes (considering the volume of 7nm products including Vega VII and Ryzen 3)? You had all the money in the world to develop and offer the 10nm node years before TSMC/Samsung. And you still haven't caught up.
Vastly superior

:roll:
Posted on Reply
#9
TheLostSwede
birdie, post: 4070242, member: 131299"
What a long post to say, "We've completely fücked up the transition to 10nm, it is backfiring in a major way and we don't know how to compete with vastly superior AMD offerings but we believe our old partners will still keep on choosing our solutions because we deem ourselves "premium" and in some rare workflows we are faster".

WTF, Intel? You've had five fücking years to hone the 10nm node. You very well understood all the way that it didn't work. Why didn't you renege on it and try something completely different? Why do TSMC and Samsung seemingly have no issues with their comparable 7nm nodes (considering the volume of 7nm products including Vega VII and Ryzen 3)? You had all the money in the world to develop and offer the 10nm node years before TSMC/Samsung. And you still haven't caught up.
That's now how you conjugate it, it's https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/german-english/ficken

64K, post: 4070249, member: 148270"
The only way that I can figure Intel is that they got complacent being on top for so long. Tech progression stagnated and they were for a long while selling 4 core 8 thread CPUs for what they should have been selling 6 core 12 thread CPUs for. It's the same lesson over and over again. When there is a lack of competition then the company on top charges more for less value and tech stagnates.
Well, yes and no. They didn't become complacent in that sense, but rather, they believed they were so far ahead, so even though their first 10nm process was a mess, they thought they would have time to fix it, but alas... Hence why they started a second 10nm process, as we know. On top of that, they decided to focus on a million other things, like FPGAs, AI co-processors, GPUs, wireless data modems (3G/4G, but clearly 5G was another mess), IoT (another huge failure), mobile phone SoCs (failure), photonics and what not. This means that they somewhat lost focus on the CPU business, as it was only part of what Intel made. Then they got a huge order for 4G models (and an expected order for 5G modems) from Apple, due to them falling out with Qualcomm and this ate up a lot of their production capacity. In other words, it's not so much being complacent, as having too many different businesses that don't quite fit and which used up a lot of resources. If you take a good look, it's not hard to see why Intel are in their current position. Yes, some of their "new" businesses have helped them make more money, but at the same time, they've lost focus on the good old x86 CPU.
Posted on Reply
#10
voltage
maybe providing amd IP to Intels X86 many years ago wasn't such a smart long term move after all?
Posted on Reply
#11
XiGMAKiD
birdie, post: 4070242, member: 131299"
What a long post to say, "We've completely fücked up the transition to 10nm...
This :shadedshu:
Posted on Reply
#12
kings
HwGeek, post: 4070248, member: 185585"
IMO AMD couldn't even dream on such great circumstances when they were working on Zen2, They thought they will compete with 10nm parts with better IPC as Intel's showed so they thought it will be the same situation like first Gen EPYC 32C vs Xeon 8180 and Ryzen 2700X VS 9900K, but now they see that there is no competition from Intel since it's 10nm parts are delayed again and show less frequency.

So looks like Intel themselves made Zen2.0 such a winner product.
And you you consider the number of employs Intel has over AMD- it's just makes Intel look even worse.
Intel will compete just fine, they have CPUs to cover all the market. Sure, AMD will have more cores in the high-end, but this does not always translate into higher performance for some tasks and the majority of consumers don´t buy CPUs with more than 6/8 cores.

To say that AMD has no competition from Intel, it's like saying that Nvidia has no competition from AMD, which is wrong. They just don´t have the supremacy like the past 10 years or pré-Ryzen era!

But overall, this is going to be good to help AMD distance itself from the impression many people have that they are "a second tier brand".
Posted on Reply
#13
HwGeek
"AMD has no competition from Intel " in terms of the planned competitive products at 10nm from Intel, current 14nm+++++ wasn't ment to compete with new 7nm Zen2.0/3.0 at 2020.
They can compete yes, but that wasn't the plan.
Posted on Reply
#14
TheLostSwede
All the replies makes it very clear that Intel loves acronyms...
Posted on Reply
#15
wizyy
I don't know.. all this looks fishy to me.
Like one person typed it all, including employee responses.
Posted on Reply
#16
dj-electric
TheLostSwede, post: 4070282, member: 3382"
All the replies makes it very clear that Intel loves acronyms...
ikr? nvm, CPU's fubar atm. tyvm AMD
Posted on Reply
#17
oxidized
Employees responses do in fact look very stupid and weird, not really sure whether to trust this or not.
Posted on Reply
#18
Fabel
No longer leading in process.
An architecture stagnant and not very efficient.
Not leading in innovation (chiplets, IO die...).
Lower core/Thread count.
Losing the advantage they had in IPC.
Higher price per core.

They just keep the MHz crown... by now.

AMD was barely able to compete with Intel, and suddenly is Intel who can't compete with AMD the way they used and liked to.

While in datacenter added value services are important in desktop it is mostly about the the performance/$ and how your products are perceived for gaming.
The mindset that allowed them to charge more for the same just because Intel has been almost completely eroded in a couple years.

Some kids didn't even know there was a second CPU manufacturer, those same kids now are looking for Zen2.
Posted on Reply
#19
Deathy
voltage, post: 4070265, member: 173691"
maybe providing amd IP to Intels X86 many years ago wasn't such a smart long term move after all?
When I read posts like this I sometimes wonder if English being my second language is the cause of me not understanding them or if the poster is just talking gibberish.
Posted on Reply
#20
TheLostSwede
Deathy, post: 4070303, member: 181802"
When I read posts like this I sometimes wonder if English being my second language is the cause of me not understanding them or if the poster is just talking gibberish.
I think what he's on about was when things went 64-bit, or something...
AMD cross licensed AMD64 with Intel, so they could go on making x86 compatible CPUs.
Posted on Reply
#21
dj-electric
I'm going to be the devil's advocate here. This is regarding ICL mobile for now.
Most of these? Positive indeed for the desktop market. That said, for mobile starting very soon:

Fabel, post: 4070295, member: 188557"
No longer leading in process.
Their new 10nm lithography is actually quite nice.

Fabel, post: 4070295, member: 188557"
An architecture stagnant and not very efficient.
ICL is incredibly efficient.

Fabel, post: 4070295, member: 188557"
Not leading in innovation (chiplets, IO die...).
Built-in Thunderbolt 3 controller, large cache, iGPU that competes with Ryzen 3700U's one, on-MCM PCH controller with FIVR fed power.

Fabel, post: 4070295, member: 188557"
Lower core/Thread count.
Similar here on 25W

Fabel, post: 4070295, member: 188557"
Losing the advantage they had in IPC.
They did no quite lose it yet with ICL

Again, on desktop and server - mostly agree with what you said. This is something they are going to have to take their sweet time on for many months on now to make a comeback
Posted on Reply
#22
TheEmptyCrazyHead
We believe that our product pricing vis-à-vis AMD reflects the great deal of added value that specifically comes from buying Intel with our decades of unmatched investments in validation, software, and security.
I really like the security part.
Posted on Reply
#23
XiGMAKiD
Deathy, post: 4070303, member: 181802"
When I read posts like this I sometimes wonder if English being my second language is the cause of me not understanding them or if the poster is just talking gibberish.
I think it's about Intel licensing x86 to AMD
Posted on Reply
#24
theoneandonlymrk
At least it's clear all at Intel Are aware of their challenges eh.
Posted on Reply
#25
Tassadar_
Additionally, I would say users don't buy a chip. They buy a system. They buy a whole solution that includes software enabling, vendor enabling, validation, technical support, manageability, out-of-box experience, supplier sustained consistency, and more. So, yes, while an OEM or ODM might buy a chip, the end user doesn't generally buy only a chip. We believe that our product pricing vis-à-vis AMD reflects the great deal of added value that specifically comes from buying Intel with our decades of unmatched investments in validation, software, and security

Posted on Reply
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