It's been a good few weeks for AMD
. The semiconductor design firm's products are everywhere at E3, even if they aren't always front-and-center on display. AMD's Jaguar
CPU core is baked into both the PS4 and Xbox One and its FirePro graphics cards are powering the Apple Mac Pro
. Apple isn't giving specs on the cards yet but refers to them as offering up to seven teraflops of procCesing power and 6GB of VRAM. That puts the cards somewhere between W8000
GPUs -- the listed configuration is a bit more powerful than the W8000, but the W9000 in pairs would offer 8TFLOP of processing power, not seven.
Apple's Mac Pro Cylindrical Power Plant, with AMD FirePro Graphics
Powering the Xbox One and PS4 isn't likely to earn AMD a huge uptick in profits immediately (Rory Read has forecast the entire embedded business as accounting for perhaps 20% of AMD's revenue in 2013), but it's a critical path to returning the company to profitability in the midterm. Long term, AMD's business could benefit from a halo effect. Game programmers working on next-generation titles are going t0 be working on AMD graphics cards and CPUs. Anchoring the first Mac Pro refresh in years gives the company a leg up into that business.
AMD's stock value has nearly doubled since late April, from a low near $2 up to about $4. That increase reflects the company's recent launches in desktop, server, and mobile products. With Kabini
looking like a strong mobile part in tablets and laptops and AMD's first low-power servers ready to go up against ARM and Atom, the company is enjoying something of a resurgence. Then 5GHz CPU demo today is icing on the cake -- provided you like 220W icing, at any rate.
Sony PlayStation 4 - All AMD Inside
At this point, we're cautiously optimistic. AMD technology is baked into a number of products at this point, and in ways that could generate a great deal of revenue. At the same time, however, the company's fortunes are tied to just how much consumers want to buy either 1) Consoles or 2) x86 tablets. Neither one of these is a guaranteed win. x86 tablets continue to struggle at market for reasons that have as much to do with Microsoft
as with AMD or Intel
, Microsoft's Xbox One is on the ropes after a vicious beating from the PS4 yesterday, and consoles themselves are fighting to stay relevant in a sea of mobile gaming.
Despite these challenges, it's great to see AMD making a play for more products. Here's hoping the bets pay off.