AMD Hits Game Console Trifecta With Xbox One
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.
AMD Loses $1.18B in 2012, Promises Changes
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.
AMD Sues Former Employees for Stealing Documents
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.
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.
AMD to Lay Off 15 Percent of Workforce
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."
AMD Ekes Out a Profit in Rough Q2
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.
HP Laptop Launch Includes AMD ‘Sleekbook’
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.
Samsung Unveils New Chip, Will Power Next Galaxy Device
Samsung today unveiled the Exynos 4 Quad chip, which will power its next Galaxy device.
The ARM Cortex A9-based, 1.4-GHz processor provides double the processing power of its predecessor, the 45nm process-based Exynos 4 Dual, while consuming 20 percent less power.
"To improve power efficiency, Samsung adopted hot-plug functionality to support on-off switching for each core as well as the per-core dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), which offers a dramatic reduction in power consumption by adapting different levels of voltage and frequency when changing workloads," Samsung said.
The company also promised enhanced multi-tasking performance, and said the Exynos 4 Quad is "well-suited" for heavy-load applications like 3D games, video editing, and calculation-intensive simulation.
Multi-core processing allows users to complete more tasks in a shorter period of time. "For example, a task such as streaming video can run on one core while the other cores update applications in the background, connecting to the web and scanning virus-check simultaneously," Samsung said.
The chip's full HD 30 frame per second video hardware codec engine will allow high resolution 1080p video recording and playback.
Report: Intel, AMD Next-Gen Chip Release Dates Leaked
Intel and Advanced Micro Devices appear to be having some trouble keeping their next-generation product release dates under wraps. Over the past week, rumored details have leaked about Intel's launch plans for processors code named Ivy Bridge and on Tuesday, sources revealed what they claimed was a definitive date for AMD's introduction of its new "Trinity" accelerated processing units (APUs).
AMD's Trinity chips, which succeed the Llano generation of APUs, feature the company's new Piledriver central processing core and an improved graphics processing architecture. The chip maker's latest addition to its line of hybrid CPU-GPU units is rumored to be launching on May 15, according to CPU World, citing a report from SWEClockers.
The Trinity launch will include desktop and notebook APUs, CPU World reported. Some more low-power APUs for "thin-and-light" laptops (essentially, what AMD's archival Intel has dubbed ultrabooks) are reportedly set for a June release.
Intel, meanwhile, had originally planned to launch Ivy Bridge this month but production issues caused the chip giant to push the launch of the bulk of chips in its next-generation, 22-nanometer product line to June, Intel executive Sean Maloney said back in February.
Despite Q4 Loss, AMD Finishes 2011 in the Black
Advanced Micro Devices weathered a shakeup of leadership to post its third profitable year in a row Tuesday, though the maker of microprocessors and graphics chips did close out 2011 with a fourth-quarter loss of $177 million related to restructuring charges and its investment in its spun-off manufacturing arm, GlobalFoundries.
AMD, which early last year introduced chips called APUs which combine CPU and GPU functionality in a single processor package, had profits of $491 million on revenue of $6.57 billion in 2011 to deliver $0.66 in earnings per share to investors. The company pulled in $1.69 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter and reported a net loss of $177 million for the three-month period.
An impairment on AMD's investment in GlobalFoundries cost the company $209 million in the fourth quarter and restructuring charges cost another $98 million. Dirk Meyer resigned as AMD's chief executive last January in a surprising turn of events, and was replaced on an interim basis by CFO Thomas Seifert for several months before the chip maker reached outside of its gates to hire ex-Lenovo COO Rory Read as president and CEO in August.