Update: Sharp-eyed reader Justin Jaynes has pointed out that the Llano lawsuit against AMD has been filed by lawyers hoping to convince investors to jump onboard, not by AMD itself. We've updated the story accordingly
There's two pieces of news on the AMD front as the company prepares to announce earnings this week, but neither are particularly happy. First, there's a persistent rumor
from the GPU side of the equation that the 2011-era Macbook Pro
's with AMD'
s discrete graphics are beginning to fail in higher-than-expected numbers with reports of graphics corruption and other intermittent issues. The relevant forum thread claims that the problem pops up when the laptops are under heavy load and that while a reboot may improve the situation temporarily, the graphics corruption always returns.
Various unhappy customers have signed a Change.org petition, and are lining up to call for an investigation into the issue. It's hard to say what the real situation is -- on the one hand, mobile GPU's can be susceptible to failure, and we've definitely seen that happen before, though the last time was with Nvidia
. On the other hand, however, the laptops in question are nearly three years old. At that age, failure rates for all brands rise sharply. Even Apple's failure rates, while better than the industry average, are still above 15% by the three year mark.
Whether this is abnormal failure or something to be expected is yet unclear. AMD has not responded to the story, nor has Apple
A Llano Lawsuit
In other AMD news, there's word of an
lawyer lawsuit against the company for its portrayal and predictions regarding Llano
products. According to the plaintiffs, AMD "repeatedly highlighted the strong and significant interest in, demand for, and unit shipments of its Llano APUs. Defendants falsely and misleadingly represented that AMD's desktop business was in a 'strong position' and that it would continue to rebound in 2012."
It's true that later in 2012, AMD took a massive writedown on its Llano stock due to weaknesses in key Asian and European markets due to weak demand. AMD ended up pitching huge amounts of Llano stock and the company's ticker price dropped enormously as a result.
The only problem is, the PC market itself was pitching downwards by this point, exacerbating AMD's Llano problems. While AMD was definitely pinched by its own over-optimistic predictions for Llano sales, the company was also hit hard by economic recession and the affects of austerity economics in Europe.
It's going to be difficult for plaintiffs to make a case against AMD in this context. While the company got its figures wrong, was that the result of macroeconomic forces, or deliberate attempts to mislead investors? Our bet is on the general economic downturn, particularly given that Europe had long been a historically strong market for AMD and a major revenue source. The case is made more dubious by the source -- lawyers have filed the suits, but have until March 16, 2014 to find a lead plaintiff.