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.

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