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AMD posts record results

Ontario gunning for netbook share, Llano pushed out
Fri Jul 16 2010, 09:35

AMD GAVE out its financial results last night and left a crowd of analysts and pundits congratulating it on a record second quarter. The company, however, was a bit more conservative about the rest of the year and upcoming tech launches - namely Fusion.

The company has been performing exceptionally well, according to AMD CEO Dirk Meyer, in particular in the mobile - up 18 per cent sequentially - and graphics segments of the business. Server? Not so much. The CEO was quite candid about it, as the company once held a smidgin over 25 per cent of the server market and now barely scrapes the 10 per cent mark.

The graphics segment was the only one that despite performing well, was limited by supply constraint - with the company strongman quoting that AMD has shipped to date over 16 million DirectX 11 parts. Actually the graphics revenue, compared to Q2'09 rose to $400 million, from $235 million, a massive 70.2 per cent increase from last year. Something a lack of competition and keeping to the original roadmap surely contributed to.

Total company revenues were $1.65 billion, up 80 million from Q1 and up $370 million from the same time last year.

AMD seems particularly happy with Vision and its effect on the notebook market share that the company has clawed back. There does seem to be a feeling that until it gets Fusion out the door, it is losing a major opportunity in the netbook segment. It seems that Sony VAIOs have come back to the AMD fold, even.

In contrast, the hosts were cautious about the remainder of the year. High expectations usually mean you drop the ball, no matter how well you do. So Meyer discussed a more sensible view of things to come, in particular when it came to Fusion and new GPUs.

On future plans, Meyer committed to sticking to the GPU roadmap. The second generation DX11 parts, that are rumoured to be named after greek myth, should be available before year's end, possibly in time for you to gift yourself at Christmas time.

AMD's Ontario platform, that is, Bobcat APU with DX11, will still make it to market in 2010 and is targeting the low price, low power, small form factor computer. This is where AMD intends to dig for gold, or rather netbook gold. The entire call seemed sunk in a sense of "there's more money to be made elsewhere", being that the netbook market. AMD believes Fusion will unlock netbook-sized devices with a bit more kick for them compared to the fashionable Atom-based platform from rival Intel.

On the other hand there are some yield issues with 32nm that have AMD spinning its wheels, and this has effectively pushed out Llano to the "first quarter of 2011", which Meyer later referred to as "qualitatively delayed by a couple of months". Ontario is built on a 40nm half-node that TSMC has already mastered, so it shouldn't present any problems. Meyer did point out that 32nm is being done at GloFo, but neither fabbing partner has currently mastered that node.

Server-wise, AMD's current Achilles' heel, the launch of Bulldozer in 2011 is expected to raise market share a bit, but we guess the real effect should only be felt later that year.

In summary, our sharp ears tell us that AMD is gunning for netbook market share, hard. It's already carved in stone. GPU business might feel a bit of a pinch from Nvidia's recent GF104 success - which targeted AMD's price/performance spot. Chipsets and CPUs will remain pretty much the same until Q4 of this year when Ontario comes out and we get a feel for what AMD netbooks might be like. µ


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