[A NOTE FROM HARRY: Here's the inaugural edition of a new feature: Technologizer Q&A. We'll give you the opportunity to pose questions to interesting technology companies. First up is chipmaker AMD--many thanks to VP of Advanced Marketing Pat Moorhead for answering these queries.
Got nominations for other companies you'd like answers from? Let me know--I'm lining up subjects for future installments.]
Fernando Garcia asks:
I have always asked the following question. Why is it that AMD will not step up advertising? A good 70% of the consumer public,still does not know what AMD is. I used to work for Best Buy and on the average day, one out of eight persons I would speak to knew what AMD was. Whenever I asked a customer about processors automatically they would say Intel.
Simply taking out more advertising does not guarantee a product’s success. I think the best way to answer that is AMD chooses to focus differently. We first focus on making our customers and their channel partners successful by investing in them, not leveraging off their brandsby sandwiching them between AMD logos. We want to invest in our customers’ success. For those people who are specifically focused on the “processor,” we have very high awareness and market directly to end user groups. These include but are not limited to enthusiasts, gamers, DIYers, Fortune 1000 and government decision makers, etc.
Ron Harris asks:
Does or will AMD offer a chipset for the competition’s Core i7 processors?
We offer ATI Radeon HD GPUs for the Core i7 but not chipsets.
Justin Abrantes asks:
Why did AMD decided to manufacture quad cores under the name of Athlon? The same way with dual-core Phenoms–will that be more confusing for non-AMD users?
We did this to simplify, not confuse. AMD Phenom processors generally have more features than AMD Athlon processors. So generally, Phenom>Athlon. X2, X3, and X4 just indicate the CPU core count.
Bill Pytlovany asks:
What’s the status of the new GlobalFoundries’ chip fab plant planned to be built in upstate (Malta) NY?
I have an inquiry into GF folks, but in the meantime here are the most recent details. Our understanding is that GP plans to break ground this summer on a new 4.2B plant in Malta, NY, with production scheduled for 2012. It’s too early to specify exactly what products will be manufactured there but we understand it will be a mix of AMD and non-AMD products. Of course, since AMD and GF are separate companies, we recommend you contact GF directly for further information.
Toby Hudon asks:
Where’s the 4770X2? Any chance of a sub-9″ board for one to fit in those cramped HTPC cases?
A dual ASIC board utilizing the ATI Radeon HD 4770 chip is a great concept idea. This would be up to our partners to bring to market. I would suggest a single GPU solution for an HTPC to help minimize heat and power and maximize performance per watt.
Toby also asks:
Where’s OpenCL? Nvidia has some kind of super secret beta developer club you can try and beg your way into, but AMD is silent even though they were showing demos on CPUs and Havok on GPUs at shows already. When can we get a compiler and libraries?
AMD has been and continues to be a leader in adopting and supporting open standards, OpenCL is a very important open standard that we are heavily invested in and expect to have more details available publically shortly
Cliff Forster asks:
AMD has recently reported a gain in market share. To what would you mostly attribute this positive upswing? Social Media strategy paying off? Perhaps the Intel EU press was very damaging to big blue? Recognition of the true dollar for dollar value position in a weak economy? Specific innovations that have improved AMD’s product offering? If you had to pick something specific that is propelling the increase in share, what would you say it is, and how do you continue to ride this positive trend?
We are in a quiet period and cannot specifically comment on market share, unfortunately. But we can restate that we believe AMD platforms offer maximum value at every price point.
What’s going to happen to Hybrid-CrossFireX? As a gamer caring about the environment (AND my energy bill), I would very much like to use a high-end card like the HD4890 in combination with an Intrgrated Graphics Processor. This way the discrete chip is only used for games while the IGP does the typical desktop usage, thus saving power. Regrettably Hybrid-CrossFireX is currently only available for a limited number of HD3xxx chips. Are there plans to renew the technology?
AMD has led the market with innovative features like ATI Hybrid CrossFireX technology. Again, we’re in quiet period and can’t comment on specific plans, but innovating platform level features remains an AMD priority.
Mark Davis asks:
In the last 2 years I believe Intel has adopted a ‘Tick-Tock’ engineering schedule, in one time frame putting out a new product, then in another a refresh and then back to a new product. What kind of engineering schedule does AMD follow? And are we most likely to see a new micro-architecture for Bulldozer?
AMD and Intel have similar engineering schedules; it’s natural given the competitive environment. AMD is near fully ramped on 45nm process, roughly around the same time as Intel got fully ramped. So it is a misconception to think Intel is years ahead of AMD in terms of manufacturing technologies. Our technology partner GlobalFoundries has indicated that it will shortly breaking ground on a state-of-the-art 20nm fab facility in New York State. When this facility is finished some time in 2012, it is expected to be the most technologically advanced manufacturing facility in the world.
Mark also asks:
Why does it seem like ATI’s game developer relations are so lackluster compared to Nvidia’s? For example on most game boxes I see n Nvidia The Way It’s Meant to Be Played ad versus an AMD ad. Are there any plans to change this?
Let’s avoid confusing Developer Relations with marketing. TWIMTBP is a marketing/co-marketing program that negotiates game asset usage and NV logo placement; AMD has a program like this as well but it has not as big a focus for AMD as TWIMTBP seems to be for Nvidia. Check out Battleforge for example. As for Dev Relations, this is an engineering relationship between the dev and our engineers to optimize new games to help achieve the best customer experience. We are highly invested in this program with a very wide breadth of game and application developers.
I would like to know what processors AMD is working on that are not targeted at desktops/laptops? Do they have a response for the Atom? What about cell phone CPUs/GPUs?
We are constantly analyzing new potential markets. For example, along with our technology partner HP, AMD helped create the “Ultrathin” mobile market with the introduction of the HP Pavilion dv2. We have no plans to specifically target the mobile phone market. Our roadmaps target server, notebook and desktop platforms are available in myriad form factors. And of course, the top two selling game consoles in the world are powered by AMD graphics processors, so the console market is important to AMD.
Wayne Smith asks:
Recently I had to replace my processor (Athlon dual core 64 5200+) which was rated at 2.6-GHhz with 1024MB L2 cache. The replacement processor (same 5200+) is rated at 2.7-GHz with 512 L2 Cache. Is there any difference in performance between the two processors?
The AMD Athlon X2 5200 processor comes with 2MB total cache (1MB per core) or 1MB total cache (512KB per core). There is no meaningful performance difference.
I am a longtime AMD fan and I have not bought a computer if it did not have an AMD CPU in it. Of course now I build my own still using AMD and I just was thinking that when you went from single core to dual-core and also again from 32-bit to 64-bit, that the experts thought that the performance might nearly double but that was never the case. It seems to me that you come out with CPUs that have the bare minimum number of pins to support the technology while Intel seems to be a hundred or more pin counts ahead of you. With that said, how does the pin count affect the efficiency of the CPU? And have you considered significantly adding the number of pins, since you did not when you converted from single core to multi-core?
Pincount is related to the system architecture the processor supports. With AMD processors, the evolution from single channel memory support with Socket 754 to dual channel 939 support was the major pincount increment, Subsequently, the migration from DDR to DDR2 and now DDR3 are associated with changes in pin assignments as our processors feature an integrated memory controller. These are the main drivers of changes in pin count and socket configuration over time. Pin count does not have a direct bearing on CPU frequency, but AMD continues to refine our socket and our architecture to deliver optimal performance.