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

#26
Fabel
dj-electric, post: 4070307, member: 87186"
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:


Their new 10nm lithography is actually quite nice.


ICL is incredibly efficient.


Built-in Thunderbolt 3 controller, large cache, iGPU that competes with Ryzen 3700U's one, on-MCM PCH controller with FIVR fed power.


Similar here on 25W


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
Their 10nm is almost non existent by now, and way inferior to their arguably awesome 14++, I will be pretty surprised if in its current incarnation it is able to match clocks, so yeah pretty well suited for mobile, where they are still leading. And of course at low clocks it is easy to stay efficient.

But Innovation? TB?! Really? oh please they failed miserably on TB and had to open source to salvage it in USB4, and playing catch up in the iGPU isn't innovating either..

Yeah they are pushing partners to try to keep AMD out of the mobile segment, but not by the means of innovation. Intel Athena blah blah blah

IMHO no real innovation.

Funny enough AMD powered notebooks are better balanced in terms of CPU/GPU power at least for gaming workloads. All those i7 with low end discrete GPUs are pretty ridiculous, when an i5 with a better discrete GPU can do the job... and then game. But of course that does not benefit their bottom line.
Posted on Reply
#27
yakk
Memo to refocus their employees and talk to the press at the same time I guess. Kinda reads like Intel acknowledges they were out engineered.

Also... Funny having the pcperspective website called out by name... wonder why? ;)
Posted on Reply
#28
GinoLatino
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.
The first one... English isn't my first language too, but I understood what he meant.
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#29
Digital Dreams
Mamya3084, post: 4070240, member: 186201"
It's pretty good wording. If I worked there I wouldn't be worried about AMD at all.
:rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#30
bug
If you remove all the BS in there, all that's left is: go Zen2, there's no point in waiting for Ice Lake. That's sad, Intel. That's sad.
Posted on Reply
#31
Steevo
They should check the security pillar. I think it's made of jello.
Posted on Reply
#32
human_error
Fabel, post: 4070245, member: 188557"
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.
To be fair it reads like the internal posts we see where I work (another very large global tech company) - lots of marketing speak as sales tend to read these and paraphrase the responses to customers where needed. The materials here will be re-used in competitive playbooks for sales as well. It's also necessary to acknowledge the threat so that employees know that the business is aware of the problem and looking at how to fight back. The employee responses I usually see internally are either people looking to suck up to whichever exec had their name on the post (which will have been ghost written), or disgruntled employees looking for somewhere to vent.

Intel know they're weak in the CPUs themselves so need to make sure that everyone knows the other value props they go to customers with (valid or not). If they didn't communicate these messages internally then they may as well give up as these messages will be repeated internally to people who don't bother reading these blogs, some of whom will be customer facing to some extent.
Posted on Reply
#33
DeathtoGnomes
dorsetknob, post: 4070251, member: 8331"
Between the lines reading :)
" Short Term Buy AMD Shares.
long term Buy more AMD Shares"
:roll::roll::roll:

Thats a "secure" bet!
Posted on Reply
#34
EarthDog
Steevo, post: 4070380, member: 19251"
They should check the security pillar. I think it's made of jello.
There are pills for that. :p
Posted on Reply
#36
trparky
TheLostSwede, post: 4070258, member: 3382"
They didn't become complacent in that sense, but rather, they believed they were so far ahead
This is what happens when a company drinks so much of their own Kool-Aid that they get drunk on it, they lose focus and direction and most importantly they lose sight of what the market and their customers want.
Fabel, post: 4070327, member: 188557"
Their 10nm is almost non existent by now, and way inferior to their arguably awesome 14++
Except for the fact that their 14nm+++ (++++++++++++) runs as hot as the surface of the sun when you pack more cores onboard.

Sure, when you're dealing with only four cores it's not so bad but once you ramp up to six and eight cores the thermals quickly get out of hand. Look at the 8700K, it runs as hot as a mofo (partly due to the paste TIM that they use) but even the 9900K run hot too when being put under load. This isn't exactly spelling out a win here for Intel, they desperately need 10nm and their load temperatures show it. Too bad they failed pretty damn hard when it comes to 10nm, they should have been able to do it. Like @birdie said, they have all the money in the world and some of the best engineers in the world; how the fuck did they fail so hard at this?
Fabel, post: 4070327, member: 188557"
Funny enough AMD powered notebooks are better balanced in terms of CPU/GPU power at least for gaming workloads. All those i7 with low end discrete GPUs are pretty ridiculous, when an i5 with a better discrete GPU can do the job... and then game. But of course that does not benefit their bottom line.
Linus talked about this, I'd have to find the YouTube video though.
Posted on Reply
#37
zlobby
They lost me on their 5th pillar - 'security'. ROFL

Not that their process is any better either...
Posted on Reply
#38
Slizzo
Did you guys see this part?
Brian said:


I'm on P2CA team supporting our DCG business. I can't speak knowledgeably about our perception in the client enthusiast world. In the data center we're perceived positively as taking security seriously. Second Generation Xeon Scalable processors include hardware fixes for existing side-channel vulnerabilities. And based on my experience working on the L1TF response, we have a world class team in IPAS [editor: Intel Product Assurance and Security] that proactively works with customers ahead of citing disclosures to ensure they understand the situation and have a viable mitigation strategy.
Brian appears to have is head so far up his own ass he can't see the forest for the trees.

The fact that in the data center the customers are evaluating and buying AMD instead after being Intel shops for so long speaks to them not being confident in Intel's security and performance per dollar.
Posted on Reply
#39
HD64G
This memo proves something that most of us didn't suspect: The Intel fanboys are worse than Intel empoyees in their blindness for the reality CPU market is facing. So, the next reply to any Intel fanboy should be: "You are worse than an Intel employee and although they have a serious reason to protect their company they see clearer than you"
Posted on Reply
#40
Tassadar_
zlobby, post: 4070395, member: 172939"
They lost me on their 5th pillar - 'security'. ROFL

Not that their process is any better either...
You didn't understood. As I posted before, Intel has a great sense of humour and this...

buying Intel with our decades of unmatched investments in validation, software, and security.

this is an hilarious comment that proves that Intel can laught about himself.

decades of unmatched investments ---> A decade selling the same quad cores spending near to zero on research and development, only reducing manufacturing process to reduce manufacturing cost and increase profit. Of course, changing the motherboard compatibility every year of two maximum (a great way to demonstrate that they're a company "focused on the customer satisfaction").

software
--> Do you know what "great software" are they talking about? (I don't) Does this software make their plattform better than the AMD?

security: you see? they're clearly joking.

Regards
Posted on Reply
#41
bug
HD64G, post: 4070408, member: 95052"
This memo proves something that most of us didn't suspect: The Intel fanboys are worse than Intel empoyees in their blindness for the reality CPU market is facing. So, the next reply to any Intel fanboy should be: "You are worse than an Intel employee and although they have a serious reason to protect their company they see clearer than you"
You think you can rank fanboys and conclude Intel's are worse/better than AMD's, Nvidia's, Apple's or whoever's?
Posted on Reply
#42
laszlo
seems intel employees build for themselves amd pc's lol
Posted on Reply
#43
bug
laszlo, post: 4070426, member: 6256"
seems intel employees build for themselves amd pc's lol
It's been like this back in Netburst's days. It took Intel a few years to ready their answer. In the meantime, AMD was able to move Athlon -> AthlonXP -> Athlon64 -> Athlon 64 X2/X4. And Intel didn't have any fab woes during that time, so you do the math.
Posted on Reply
#44
john_
Additionally, some software is licensed per core and therefore more cores from the AMD solution results in higher licensing costs.
Wow! Really? Is this a real argument?
Single core CPUs for servers NOW, to lower licensing costs!
Posted on Reply
#45
EarthDog
john_, post: 4070444, member: 137560"
Wow! Really? Is this a real argument?
Single core CPUs for servers NOW, to lower licensing costs!
Yes. It is and can be a good one depending on use cases. It can EASILY blow the monetary savings of the cpu (core vs core and thread vs thread) right out the door. Over buying on cores and threads in a DC environment can be quite detrimental to the bottom line on many fronts.
Posted on Reply
#46
trparky
The easy way of getting around that is to limit the visible cores inside the virtual machine where the licensing cost limited software is running.
EarthDog, post: 4070455, member: 79836"
Over buying on cores and threads in a DC environment can be quite detrimental to the bottom line on many fronts.
I don't see it that way, I see it as a way to pack more computing power into less space and remember, space (specifically, rack space) is limited in a data center. More cores and more threads means you can run more virtual machines while consuming less rack space.
Posted on Reply
#47
Zareek
If this is real, this is really good for Zen 2. Intel is internally preparing to stop the bleeding before the bleeding has even started. Like I said with the price cut rumors, this is so good for us the buying public. We can expect at least a few years of innovation and competition! I still find it disturbing that Intel needs AMD to push them along.
Posted on Reply
#48
EarthDog
trparky, post: 4070465, member: 170376"
I don't see it that way, I see it as a way to pack more computing power into less space and remember, space (specifically, rack space) is limited in a data center. More cores and more threads means you can run more virtual machines while consuming less rack space.
To those not in the data center/capacity planning/licensing side of things, we can see how one can jump to your conclusion.
Posted on Reply
#49
trparky
Zareek, post: 4070466, member: 187034"
this is so good for us the buying public
Now if only they can get their thermals under control because many of Intel's enthusiast chips run very damn hot. This is where 10nm is desperately needed.
Zareek, post: 4070466, member: 187034"
I still find it disturbing that Intel needs AMD to push them along.
This has always been the case with companies that have sat on the golden throne for too long, they get drunk on their own Kool-Aid. It's happened across dozens of industries, not just the computing industry.

EarthDog, post: 4070470, member: 79836"
To those not in the data center/capacity planning/licensing side of things, we can see how one can jump to your conclusion.
Again, as I said previously, you can limit the number of cores that the software sees inside the virtual machine. For instance, if you only have an MSSQL server license for six cores then limit the virtual machine to six cores and be done. There are ways around software licensing issues while thinking intelligently about how to pack as much computing power as possible in as little space as necessary. More servers equal more required physical space, power usage, cooling, and other added costs. If you can reduce that you can spend the saved money on other parts of your business.
Posted on Reply
#50
HD64G
bug, post: 4070424, member: 157434"
You think you can rank fanboys and conclude Intel's are worse/better than AMD's, Nvidia's, Apple's or whoever's?
Thing is that even the employees are much fairer in their judgements, a thing that we haven't seen even in PC industry. And I think that is worth noted. Aren't you impressed at all I suppose?
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