There's an old adage that says you have to spend money to make money, and if that's truly the case, AMD better think long and hard about its investments, or lack thereof. According to a Chinese-language report, the Sunnyvale chip designer's quarterly R&D spending has declined since 2012 and is at the lowest level since 2004.
Prior to that, AMD's spending was flat through 2011 before dipping down to $238 million, which is how much it spent on R&D last quarter. Meanwhile, rival NVIDIA has switched places with AMD over the past several years and has increased R&D spending to $348.25 million. That works out to about 31 percent of its revenue, versus AMD's 20 percent.
Both pale in comparison to Intel. The Santa Clara chip giant has not only outspent AMD and NVIDIA on R&D combined over the years, but it's the only one out of the three that's consistently been increasing its investments at a fairly steady clip.
For example, throughout 2011, Intel increased its R&D spending from a little below $1.75 billion at the beginning of the year to more than $2.25 billion by the time 2012 rolled around. This past quarter, Intel spent $2.99 billion.
(All charts courtesy Extreme Performance Review)
Part of the reason for the gap in spending is because Intel is the largest semiconductor company in the world. Intel also owns its own fabs, whereas NVIDIA and AMD both design chips and outsource manufacturing.