AMD and Intel – A Tale of Two Companies

AMD and Intel are making big splashes in media yet again but this time it seems like the shoe is on the other foot. What does that mean? Read on to find out.

On March 2, AMD released Ryzen out into the wild. That's right. The Zen architecture is finally available to desktop users! The Ryzen CPU is based on AMD's first new architecture in over 5 years. This the culmination of their hard work in the console industry which helped steer the world of video game development towards a new paradigm in engine building.

AMD also recently assured everyone that Vega, would be released sometime late in the second quarter of this year. RX Vega is AMD's first new GPU in over five years and the early demonstrations are mind blowing.

AMD: Crazy Like a Fox

As I have reported before on our Free Range Geeks Podcast, AMD has been working hard in the trenches these last five years designing their empire. They started providing CPUs for Xbox and Playstations around 2012 and, at that time, they were chided for their decision. As it was reported in the industry mags, Nvidia "gave" the PS4 to AMD because the profit margins were terrible. Actually, Nvidia didn't have the room to take the financial risk. AMD did and they managed their risk very well.

Today we have DirectX 12 and Vulkan to show for it. This is also the reason that there are 82 motherboards in the works for the new AM4 sockets required for Ryzen. AMD is also expecting a Q2 launch of Naples, their updated server platform. This may be why new orders for Intel enterprise CPUs are currently down. And, if all that wasn't enough, they are working on a late 2017 launch for Raven Ridge which is their Zen APU. Raven Ridge is targeted at high-end notebooks.

So, those who once thought that AMD was acting like their crazy old Aunt Edna, are beginning to understand their brilliant plan. Now, the question is: will Intel continue to sit on their laurels or will they try to make an equally impressive move of their own?

Intel and The Atom C2000 Crisis

Hard to say, really. They are trying to make inroads to the Internet of Things (IoT)...banking on current models that show PC purchases falling to the IoT. However, the Atom C2000 processor family is not a good first foot. This chip line contains a clock flaw that is bricking network and storage devices without warning. Early on, Intel used its clout to enforce nondisclosure agreements with the companies that suffered the most from this fiasco (including Cisco, Netgate, and others); however, in January of this year they began to speak publicly about the issue and they have set aside funds to deal with damages. This is putting additional strain on the company after their poor purchase choice of McAfee.

In 2010, they purchased McAfee for $7.68 billion only to turn around in late 2016 and sell a majority share of the company to TPG Capital for $4.2 billion. So, they may still rise out of the ashes. They are usually pretty good at learning from their mistakes. They recently fired 11% of their workers in a strategy to slim down debt and they are hoping that their partnership with TPG will help them gain a foothold in the much needed security net for the IoT.

What's Next for AMD and Intel?

It will be interesting watching where AMD and Intel will go next. Each time it looks like either is down for the count, they have a Rocky-like comeback. One thing is for sure, we won't soon see the end of the end of the AMD and Intel debates about who is greater.


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