Friday, November 14, 2008

I listened to parts of AMD's Financial Analyst Day (gotta keep up with our competitors). First off, I have to say Rick Bergman's attempt to get a majority share of the graphics business by lumping in consoles was lame to the nth degree. Neither ATI nor NVIDIA controls or drives the sales of consoles. Also, those are contract designs from years ago that aren't even competitive with today's parts.

Other than that, as a former AMDer, I found Dirk's pitch on AMD's reason to play in the market, well uninspiring. It came down to: well the market needs an alternative to Intel, it might as well be us. How inspiring it is to say you're tired of losing money, or your soon to ex-CFO saying there was finally a change to cash flow positive for the first time under his watch. The message was not about leadership, but about competence. AMD wants to be a competent x86 microprocessor supplier. Good for them, I guess. The days of talking about 30% market share and kicking Intel's butt are over.

I guess the only sign of competitive juices is their competition with NVIDIA. They caught NVIDIA flat footed with an unconventional strategy. Remember how that played out with Intel? First AMD got the upper hand on Intel with Athlon64/Opteron, then got cocky, didn't bring anything new, and then got creamed by Conroe. It could happen again. AMD has not been able to sustain leadership - it moves in short spurts of real innovation, followed by years of mediocrity. I think AMD lost of some of the engineers willing to take risks - it became a customer driven company and lost the ability to inspire passion.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I was reading AMD's Pat Moorehead's blog post on mini-notebooks (Netbooks in Intel-speak; research companies are using the mini-notebook name). Pat's become Mr. Gadget for AMD, which is funny considering AMD is not really in the gadget business.

Back to mini-notes - Pat divides the use model into two types: at home and away from home. Pat's ideal "at-home" mini-note is really just a small notebook like a MacBook Air. The "away-from-home" mini-note is also overkill. I kinda agree with the 1024x768 display, but actually I'd like 1280x768 like my dear departed Crusoe-based Fujitsu P2110 (I still have the parts; I tried to figure out why it died, but couldn't diagnose the reason it wouldn't power up for more than a second or two). I like having a solid state drive because it make the mini-note more rugged to use - like a remote control or a handheld game console. If the content is going to be stored in the cloud or my home network storage - I don't need a large drive. I would like the same amount as an iPOD Touch - 16-32GB. To get to the aggressive price point- there are compromises that must be made. But it clear that consumers won't pay a premium for small size.

Looking over at my gadget collection, you can see that I own the original ASUS Eee PC 701 with the Linux OS and have used it. It's just to difficult to use on a regular basis. I'm planning to keep our wine list on it and it's still useful for casual browsing or chat.

I'm holding out for a mini-note with NVIDIA graphics :-)
On the eve of AMD's Financial Analyst Day, did anyone find it odd that Intel decided to release its lower guidance? If that doesn't scare the bejesus out of the financial analysts, I don't know what will. That's just plain mean (of Intel).