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back to article AMD: 'At heart, we're a design company'

Calling AMD a chipmaker is no longer accurate. The proper term is chip designer and seller. Today was Advanced Micro Devices first day of business without its chip foundry. In the short term, little will change between AMD, the chip designer, and the Foundry Company, the chip fabrication outfit the company has spun out. But …

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Microprocessor inventor

"Back in the early days of the microprocessor (which was invented by Intel when it created the 4004 chip in 1971)..."

I believe a strong argument could be made that the Texas Instruments TMS1000 was the first microprocessor. See patent 3,757,306. That argument would be bolstered by the fact that when Intel and TI signed cross-licensing agreements on microprocessors in 1971 and again in 1976, Intel paid royalties to TI for use of its patents.

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Not linked? DOH!

If design and fabs are not linked, then please tell me how Intel has for so long dominated the microprocessor market primarily by being first to market with new chip fab tech, rather than innovative microprocessor design? Put bluntly, the main reason AMD have been chasing Intel is that the later nearly always gets to the next generation of chip fab sizes first, updates an aging design to use the extra transistors by adding more cache or some more instruction decode logic where appropriate, and then beats the pants off AMD while AMD is stuck a generation behind for 6-18 months.

And spinning off AMD's chip fab to an investment company will catch them up to Intel's fab development - how? If you say money, then you have to admit that any investment fund will want that money back, plus a healthy profit margin - meaning higher prices for AMD customers, while at best matching Intel's chips - and that's at best. That surrenders the pricing advantage AMD has always had against Intel then - have they forgotten that being #2 means you are supposed to try harder?

I can see it being a play to weather the economic storm, perhaps - but I don't for the life of me see how this benefits AMD's customers longer-term.

Time to start perusing i7 mobos I guess...

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I for one

salute our new Arab silicon overlords!

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Pirate

A Ratner Moment

"says Dessau. "But markets change. Real men work in ecosystems, and it is always better to spend someone else's money than your own.""

Oh dear. That must be the dumbest and most revealing of things that anyone can ever have said. And quite what ATIC/the Foundry Company will make of it will be something which may now be of concern to AMD/Dessau.

It smacks of the typical Sub-Prime Mental Toxicity which is completely destroying the US based Capitalist System ....... and which we are expecting will be Changed [as per elected Presidential mandate?] Sadly is that yet to make any appearance thus guaranteeing further debilitating losses and exposure of National Intelligence "secrets"....... which will be even more revealing.

Maybe Mr Bean/Flash Gordon will sort things out on his Jolly Jaunt this week to the Newbie? Although his Sustained Record of Failure is not a Promising Sign. In fact that appears to be his Modus Operandi ..... Promise the Stars and dDeliver Sweet and Sour FA in a Cabinet of No Talents.

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The 4004 processor

Intel did not in fact invent the 4004 processor. A Japanese company called Busicom who were once upon a time makers of typewriters, made a design for a calculator and approached Intel to build it for them. One of Intel's engineers- Ted Hoff, modified their design- which had 8 seperate components, into a single component based on 2108 mini-transistors and a number of virtual gates- and persuaded Busicom that his modification was a better match to their requirements for building (a desk calculator). The first chip was built to Hoff's specifications by Intel in 1969, and the design was later sold to Intel, by Busicom, for what was considered a princely sum for $60,000 in 1970. Busicom went bankrupt in 1971. Sounds very like how Microsoft got themselves off the ground.......

S.

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Re The 4004 processor

Shane,

That tale sounds very much like a version of selling worthless glass beads and mirrors to the Injuns for their priceless treasures.

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Dead Vulture

Dead end

Dessau: "the speed of the processor no longer determines the experience of the end user"

This guy is delusional. Just because it costs more than ever to develop a new manufacturing process that makes chips faster does not mean users do not want faster processors. I, for one, want a CPU that is 10 times faster. I do not want 10 slow CPUs on one die as a substitute.

Previously, part of the profit generated by selling older generation chips went to subsidise the development of faster, newer generation of semiconductors. It may seem sub-optimal to a marketing person like Dessau, obviously he wants to concentrate on profit generation, not development, but let us see where this fab-lessness leads.

The costly process development is outsourced to The Foundry. Why would The Foundry want to spend billions upon billions of $ to create a process comparable to the latest Intel or IBM process? It is not where the profit lies. The most profitable are one-generation-older chips, I think. So a design company like AMD would not be able to make a CPU faster than Intel's, unless AMD pays same billions to The Foundry for development. If it does not, it would have to design chips using old technology. This would mean an end of AMD as a competitor to Intel on the "fastest CPU" market. We'll be stuck with Intel's monopoly.

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'At heart we're a design company'

I'm sure that explains why their recent historic designs have been poor, and the current ones are merely lacklustre. They had an advantage over Intel and recklessly squandered it.

Even when their designs have theoretically been better (supposedly technically superior cache on multicore CPUs for instance), the actual implementation of Intel's shared intelligent cache produced higher performance which is basically all that matters. AMD's failure to catch up is also enabling Intel to fix some of their historic design issues such as adding an integrated memory controller.

All AMD appear to have now is a possible (unproven) advantage in virtualisation (which they have a year to cement before Intel fixes that, and in the meantime VT-d on high end Intel platforms is probably a more enviable feature anyway) and improved power management.

They're staying in the game, but not making any significant progress. Still, at least they're pushing Intel to produce decent chips.

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re: Look, Ma! No foundry!

lol.. funniest one i've seen in a long time, thanks alot

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Anonymous Coward

Big oil building our chips?

Hi, does this mean maybe someday OPEC will become CPEC and control the price of AMD cpus????

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