The Tech News Blog

May 5, 2014

AMD Goes All In for ARM With Future ‘Project Skybridge’ Chips

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The word of the day for Advanced Micro Devices is "ambidextrous."

AMD on Monday announced it is going all-in with the ARM architecture, unveiling a multi-year product roadmap that dips equally into the x86 and ARM instruction sets for future client, server, and embedded processors.

It was the strongest statement yet from the chip maker that ARM will be as important to its product development going forward as x86, the instruction set which AMD and its larger rival Intel have made the dominant force in PC and server chips over the past couple of decades.

"Today is about innovation," said AMD president and CEO Rory Read at a press conference in San Francisco. "Today, we're going to talk about that next step as we embark upon our ambidextrous roadmap to develop a 'skybridge' technology that connects our IP on a single SoC."

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June 12, 2013

AMD Unleashes 5GHz, 8-Core Desktop Monster

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Advanced Micro Devices hit the ground running at E3 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, lifting the curtain on an eight-core desktop CPU with an out-of-the-box, gut-busting clock of 5GHz.

AMD's FX-9590 becomes the most powerful processor in the company's FX family of CPUs. It will initially be sold in gaming and multimedia desktop PCs through AMD's system integrator partners, though the chip maker appeared to leave the door open for a standalone "Black Edition" being made available at some point.

"At E3 this week, AMD demonstrated why it is at the core of gaming. The new FX 5GHz processor is an emphatic performance statement to the most demanding gamers seeking ultra-high resolution experiences including AMD Eyefinity technology. This is another proud innovation for AMD in delivering the world's first commercially available 5GHz processor," Bernd Lienhard, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Client Products Division, said in a statement.

AMD also introduced the slightly slower but still ripping FX-9370, another eight-core that hits 4.7GHz with the chip maker's Turbo Core 3.0 clock-throttling technology engaged.

Both new chips utilize AMD's latest CPU core architecture formerly code named Piledriver.

May 23, 2013

AMD Releases New Temash, Kabini, and Richland APUs


AMD today announced the availability a new set of dual- and quad-core processors for the so-called convergence form factors between mobile OS tablets and Windows-based, high-end performance notebooks. The APUs are code named Temash, Kabini, and Richland, and are aimed at the mobility, mainstream, and performance categories, respectively.

AMD's dual-core A4 and A6 Temash-based processors will concentrate on the category that AMD calls Elite Mobility. These are the touch-based tablets, hybrids, and notebooks under 13 inches in screen size. They are also the so-called performance tablets that are more powerful than the mobile OS tablets like the iPad or basic Windows 8 tablets powered by Intel Atom processors.

The A4-1200, A4-1250, and A6-1450 processors will bring Radeon HD 8100 and 8200 graphics to the tablet form factor, partly for games but also to help with HD video decoding. The A4-1200 in particular has a TDP of 3.9 Watts, which means it will be power saving and cool running.

AMD's quad core A4, A6, and dual core E-series Kabini-based processors are the middle-tier products in this launch cycle, and are designed for higher graphics and computing performance than the Elite Mobility models, along with longer battery life. AMD is claiming better performance per Watt than competing Intel Core processors, as well as better DX11 3D graphics. The A4-5000 and A6-5200 are quad-core processors with Radeon HD 8300 and 8400 graphics. The E1-2100, E1-2500, and E2-3000 dual-core processors have Radeon HD 8200 graphics and are designed to compete with Intel's Celeron dual-core processors.

May 21, 2013

AMD Hits Game Console Trifecta With Xbox One

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It's been an open secret for quite some time, but now it's official—Advanced Micro Devices has hit the trifecta with the selection of its chips for all three of the major eighth-generation game consoles, including Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One.

The Xbox One and Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 will both feature customized AMD accelerated processor units (APUs) integrating the chip maker's forthcoming Jaguar-class CPU cores and Radeon graphics, as well as a memory controller, video decoder, and other functionality. The Nintendo Wii U, released last November, relies on an IBM PowerPC 750 CPU but also incorporates an AMD-designed GPU.

Specs had already been revealed for the PlayStation 4, and obviously also for the Wii U, so Tuesday's Xbox One reveal by Microsoft made AMD's trifecta official.

"AMD is very excited to be working with Microsoft on their next-generation Xbox One. The Microsoft Xbox One leverages a single-chip, semi-custom AMD APU, with custom components co-developed with Microsoft designed to enable unique attributes of the system Microsoft is bringing to market," Saeid Moshkelani, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Semi-Custom Business Unit, said in a statement.

January 23, 2013

AMD Loses $1.18B in 2012, Promises Changes

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Advanced Micro Devices took a step back financially in 2012 but executives said Tuesday that the company's investments in areas like low-power chips for tablets and the data center would straighten the ship in the coming years.

AMD's fourth-quarter and full-year numbers were down across the board, with fourth-quarter sales of $1.16 billion down 31 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, and overall revenue of $5.42 billion for 2012 down nearly 18 percent from the previous year.

The net income picture was equally distressing for a company which fought its way back to profitability a few years ago following a long string of quarters in the red, only to find itself on the wrong side of the profit-loss column once again. AMD lost $473 million in its fourth quarter and lost $1.18 billion for the year after reporting positive net income of $491 million in 2011.

The chip maker's larger rival Intel reported similarly flagging numbers in its own year-end earnings report last week, but AMD's year-over-year declines were steeper in most categories, its margins thinner, and the hit to investors—a loss of $1.60 per share in 2012—more dear.

"AMD continues to evolve our operating model and diversify our product portfolio with the changing PC environment," AMD president and CEO Rory Read said in a statement. "Innovation is the core of our long-term growth. The investments we are making in technology today are focused on leveraging our distinctive IP to drive growth in ultra low-power client devices, semi-custom SoCs and dense servers.

January 17, 2013

AMD Sues Former Employees for Stealing Documents

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AMD has filed suit against four former employees, arguing that the group stole thousands of documents before leaving to go work for one of AMD's biggest rivals, Nvidia.

"This is an extraordinary case of trade secret/misappropriation and strategic solicitation," AMD said in the suit, which was filed this week in Massachusetts district court. "Thousands of AMD documents or electronic files have been taken from its facilities by employees leaving to work for its primary competitor in the graphics business, Nvidia."

The controversy dates back to July 2012, the suit said, when Robert Feldstein left AMD. "He transferred sensitive AMD documents, and in the next six months the remaining three defendants either did the same thing, violated 'no-solicitation of employees' promises, or both - all obvious violations of common law, statute, and/or contracts with AMD," AMD said in the suit, which was posted online by ZDNet.

AMD said it has evidence that Feldstein - as well as Manoo Desai and Nicolas Kociuk - transferred sensitive documents to an external storage device during their last days at AMD. "The volume of materials ... exceeds 100,000 electronic files," AMD said.

The documents in question include data that is "obviously" confidential and proprietary, AMD said. Feldstein, for example, transferred licensing agreements with "significant" customers, a document that outlined AMD's licensing strategy, and the contents of his Outlook email account. Desai, meanwhile, transferred 200 files about "Perforce," an AMD internal database with details about confidential work. Kociuk is accused of transferring more than 150,000 files - "believed to be full copies of AMD laptops and desktop computers," AMD said - to an external hard drive.

January 8, 2013

AMD Shows Off New Processors and GPUs


LAS VEGAS—AMD introduced new sets of silicon at a press conference here at Vegas. These new processors run the gamut from APUs built for low power use in tablet PCs to multi-GHz performance CPUs and GPUs.

AMD started by trying to coin a new term: Surround Computing, which means having computing power all around you, from smart devices embedded in glasses to room-filling visuals and sounds. In the keynote, AMD representatives touted the company's discrete graphics solutions, as well as APU solutions for laptops, desktops, and tablets.

The Radeon HD brand led off the press conference, emphasizing AMD's commitment to servicing gaming, from the traditional gaming PC to the gaming console, to the infrastructure that supports gaming. After reiterating that games like Far Cry 3, Bioshock Infinite, and the new Tomb Raider are AMD Gaming Evolved titles, AMD announced its dominance of the home gaming console market with AMD technology in three out of the four top consoles (including the new Nintendo Wii U). AMD capped the gaming section with the introduction of the AMD Radeon HD 8000M series for notebook PCs.

Next, AMD introduced its updated A4, A6, A8, and A10 APU lines and OEM partners. A representative from Asus showed the Asus U38 Ultrathin, powered by AMD A-series APUs with AMD Radeon discrete graphics as an option. The U38 Ultrathin has a 1080p screen with capacitive multi-touch. Next up was the HP Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook, which can be equipped with an A8 APU, 15.6-inch 10-finger touch screen.

October 18, 2012

AMD to Lay Off 15 Percent of Workforce

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Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday announced it will lay off 15 percent of its workforce around the world with a "significant portion" of the downsizing to occur in the final quarter of this year.

AMD had been expected to reveal a major restructuring effort while reporting a disappointing third quarter, though the number of layoffs the company announced was well below rumors that pink slips could be handed out to as much as a third of the chip maker's employees.

"These actions will return AMD to profitable growth," AMD president and CEO Rory Read said on a call with investors and analysts. The chip maker said the restructuring would also include closing down unspecified sites around the globe.

"Our restructuring efforts are decisive actions that position AMD to compete more effectively and improve our financial results. Reducing our workforce is a difficult, but necessary, step to take advantage of the eventual market recovery and capitalize on growth opportunities for our products outside of the traditional PC market," Read said.

The company said it expects its restructuring to result in fourth-quarter operational savings of $20 million, along with a savings of $190 million in 2013, though AMD will "record a restructuring expense in the fourth quarter of 2012 of approximately $80 million in connection with these actions."

July 20, 2012

AMD Ekes Out a Profit in Rough Q2

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Advanced Micro Devices managed a $46 million profit in a rough second quarter that saw revenue decrease by double digits both sequentially and year -over-year, the company reported Thursday.

AMD had earlier warned that sales would be down for the quarter and revenue of $1.41 billion was a 10 percent decline from the $1.57 billion the company pulled in for the same quarter a year ago, when it posted profits of $105 million. The chip maker had sales of $1.59 billion in the first quarter of 2012 but that period was marked by a loss of $580 million.

"Overall weakness in the global economy, softer consumer spending, and lower channel demand for our desktop processors in China and Europe made the closing weeks of the quarter challenging. We are taking definitive steps to improve our performance and correct the issues within our control as we expect headwinds will continue in the third quarter as the industry sets a new baseline," AMD president and CEO Rory Read said in a statement.

"We remain optimistic about our core businesses as well as future opportunities with our competitively differentiated next-generation Accelerated Processor Units (APUs). Our recently launched Trinity APU continues to gain traction with customers. We are committed to driving profitable growth," he added.

In the second quarter, AMD introduced its both its Trinity chips for ultrathin laptops, which succeed the first-generation Llano APUs, and mainstream notebook processors code named Brazos 2.0, securing design wins from Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, Acer, and other computer manufacturers.

May 9, 2012

HP Laptop Launch Includes AMD ‘Sleekbook’

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Along with remodeling its consumer laptop line, HP has answered the curiosity of onlookers who wondered what a vendor might call an ultra-thin portable with an AMD processor that disqualified it from Intel's ultrabook trademark: Meet the Sleekbook.

Actually, the AMD APU-equipped, 15.6-inch HP Envy Sleekbook (shipping June 20 for $599.99) is accompanied by an Intel-powered 14-inch model (shipping May 9 for $699.99) with optional discrete graphics, as opposed to the "discrete-class" graphics of the AMD laptop. Each starts at 4 pounds, measures just 20mm thick, and features HP's Beats Audio with two speakers and a subwoofer. The 14-inch Envy Sleekbook offers a 500GB hard drive and, HP claims, up to eight hours of battery life; the 15.6-inch model comes with a 320GB drive and up to nine hours of battery life.

For consumers who crave the Intel trademark, May 9 will also see the debut of 14- and 15.6-inch HP Envy Ultrabooks (starting at $749.99 and $799.99, respectively). They, too, slide under the 20mm limbo stick and offer 2.1 Beats Audio. Each comes with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive plus 32GB mSATA SSD cache, as well as Intel ultrabook features including Rapid Start, Identity Protection, and Smart Connect Technologies; HP promises up to eight and nine hours of unplugged operation for the 14- and 15.6-inch models, respectively.

Another new Envy model, the Envy Spectre XT, is a premium 13.3-inch ultrabook positioned above the HP Folio 13. A fraction lighter than the Folio at 3.1 pounds, the $999.99 system has similar hardware specs—4GB of memory, a 128GB solid-state drive, a backlit keyboard—with the exception of being available with an Intel third-generation "Ivy Bridge" processor. Its software bundle includes full versions of Adobe Premiere Elements 10 and Photoshop Elements 10 and a two-year subscription to Norton Internet Security. Featuring Beats Audio with quad speakers, the Spectre XT will ship June 8.