SAN FRANCISCO: CHIP DESIGNER AMD said it will work with server vendors to sell its Radeon Sky graphics cards rather than take Nvidia's route and flog a whole system.
Two weeks ago Nvidia announced its Grid VCA server, which is the first server the chip designer will sell directly to customers with a software licensing agreement. While AMD launched its Radeon Sky cards that compete in a similar market, the firm has told The INQUIRER it has no plans to sell a complete server, saying competing with customers "is a dangerous road".
David Cummings, senior director and GM of Professional Graphics at AMD said that working with server vendors is part of the company's business model, adding that unless it can add something unique by building complete systems there is no need for it compete with partners.
Cummings said, "It's our business philosophy, we believe we have a very key component but unless we are offering a unique added value it doesn't make sense. For us to put that together, we are not going to do it better than a partner will do it.
"We are trying to help our partners get more business and make more money than just selling our own products. I think if you start competing with your own customers I think that is a dangerous road to go down."
According to Cummings, selling graphics cards will allow AMD to work with customers that "roll their own" servers, something that has become increasingly popular after firms such as Google and later Facebook have shown it can reduce overall costs.
Cummings said, "We work with a range of partners in servers so whether it is ODMs or system integrators, we are very much customer driver, so we are not looking to define, the competitors have a predefined box they are selling directly, even defining what the price is.
"We are taking the opposite approach, we are working closely with the software partners, the 'hardware builders'. In some cases the cloud gaming companies are doing the whole thing, they are sourcing graphics cards then getting someone to build the system. We have our projects, either on the consumer side or the professional side that we work with OEMs and server system integrators."
Cummings also ruled out being able to buy Radeon Sky cards from retail outlets, saying the cards are primarily aimed at server vendors. "It's a well defined target market and there is a certain number of people that are playing in this space. It's not an off-the-shelf retail card, it doesn't make sense there. It's aimed at mainly the server guys that it is aimed at."
Nvidia's Grid VCA appliance is a significant departure from the firm's usual way of doing business and it will be interesting to see how much traction Nvidia manages to get with a relatively locked down machine. While AMD's Radeon Sky is being pitched at the cloud rendering market, there is nothing stopping the card from being used to render professional applications, meaning AMD's decision to work with vendors rather than sell its own kit could see it win business from its long-time graphics rival. µ
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