AMD working to be tech's 3rd big comeback

Written by Edward Chester

April 5, 2013 // 4:02 p.m.

Tags: #amd #apple #comeback #ibm #roy-taylor

Roy Taylor, corporate vice president worldwide component channel sales for AMD, has claimed AMD may be the 3rd big comeback in the history of tech.

Taylor, who recently left his long-time role at major AMD rival Nvidia, told Bit-Tech how he sees AMD following in the footsteps of IBM and Apple, rising to eventually become a much more powerful player in the technology sector over the next few years.

While AMD hasn't seen the sort of rapid decline in recent years that the likes of BlackBerry have suffered, it has long struggled to recover from its downturn in fortunes following the introduction of rival Intel's Core architecture back in 2006, despite some success with its GPU division - formerly ATI.

But, thinks Taylor, with the company's new generation of APUs (a CPU and GPU combined on one chip), it is well set for the future. A large part of this will be driven by AMD having secured deals with Nintendo and Sony to have its APUs in the Wii U and PS4 (and it's long rumoured the upcoming new Xbox will also feature an AMD chip). With these processors in place there is significant incentive for developers to work hard on making their games and apps run well on AMD hardware, which in turn may drive uptake of AMD APUs, CPUs and GPUs in other sectors of the market.

Also AMD is keen to point out its Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) strategy will make a significant impact when it arrives at the tail end of this year. HSA takes the concept of a fast serial processor (the traditional CPU) and a fast parallel processor (the traditional GPU) being merged on one chip (as on an APU) and moves it to the next level. The two blocks share the same memory, making for much more efficient use of both time (so the processor is faster) and power: in a recent white paper the company claimed a 2.3x performance increase and a 2.4x power reduction over an equivalent traditional APU. HSA should also be easier to program because of this simpler interaction.

To push home its point about APUs, AMD considers itself not a sole player in the APU market but that all manufacturers that produce processors that include a CPU and a GPU element are producing APUs too. In other words, Intel is in the APU game as well. When considered in this light, and taking into account the number of programs that now benefit from parallel processing, AMD considers its chips to be the superior investment.

The picture isn't as clear as this, though, as the APU approach is only applicable to those systems that don't require the extra horsepower of a separate GPU. So for performance PCs, the tactic is still very much one of getting the fastest separate CPU and GPU. Likewise, AMD has long struggled to compete when it comes to power consumption on its APUs so hasn't yet been able to gain a significant foothold in the ever growing laptop market. No doubt it is here that the upcoming HSA processors will have to make the largest impact for Roy Taylors predictions to come true.

Will Taylor's predictions come true? Will AMD hit the big time over the coming years? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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