AMD Talks Server Strategy, Teases Monster GPU At 2012 Fusion Summit

During today's AMD Fusion Developer Summit keynote, the company discussed its plans for next-generation servers, APUs, and future GPUs. Bulldozer may not have hit AMD's launch targets last fall, but the company is committed to evolving the Interlagos core as well as the associated platform.

Much of the server-side discussion focused on the SeaMicro acquisition. AMD claims that SeaMicro has found a way to dramatically change the size of a full-power server, from the following standard form factor...

Into something like this:

Unsurprisingly, AMD claims that shrinking the entire server platform allows it to hit unheard-of core densities and offer enormous power efficiency improvements. We've talked before about how Interlagos has trouble competing against Intel's Xeons; advances this significant would even the playing field by giving AMD a density advantage in certain configurations. SeaMicro, however, isn't quite ready to ship these boxes; the company stated they'd be available in November of this year.

In GPU news, Papermaster teased a triple-fan FirePro he referred to as the W9000. AMD launched the W600 earlier this week; this is a 28nm follow-up with 6 DisplayPorts, 6GB of RAM, and 4TFlop of single-precision capability. Based on what we know about Graphics Core Next, this implies the next-gen FirePro is a clock-tweaked 7970. A 975MHz HD 7970 (50MHz over stock) would hit the 4TFlop target Papermaster outlined. The RAM and number of supported displays, however, would put the W9000 well above Nvidia's flagship Quadro 6000.

There's a Chip For That

AMD's focus at today's keynotes was on demonstrating its flexibility and scalability. The company hammered home the point that for any sort of workload, task, or usage scenario, there either is or will be a competitive AMD solution. The elephant in the corner, inevitably, was how AMD's solutions would compare against Intel's. Here, the company was silent. The presentations were filled with discussions of AMD's roadmap and future plans -- always a good thing -- but shyed away from any discussion of how these chips would compare against Intel's or Nvidia's counterattacks. That's understandable, given AMD's current position, but unfortunate just the same.

AMD has unveiled a tri-platform strategy in which Kaveri drives 15W-35W performance, Kabini (next-gen Bulldozer) takes on low-end netbooks and notebooks, and Temash -- low-power Kabini -- is designed for tablets and other small devices. This was an opportunity for AMD to stake out a counter position in ultrabooks and tablets, or to talk about a different vision for such devices. It chose not to do so. Also missing from the table was any indication of when these new chips would ship; thus far the company has simply said "2013." With Windows 8 dropping late this year or early next, waiting until the middle or end of the year to refresh its products would leave the company looking vulnerable and slow off the block.

A lot of what we saw today was interesting, particularly in servers, but there are still too many unanswered questions to comfortably say that AMD is back on track.