AMD To Give Up Competing With Intel On x86? CPU Prices Already Shooting Up

It looks like the Bulldozer disaster might have been too much of a setback for AMD to recover from. After 30 years of competing with Intel in the x86 processor market, AMD is about to give up, even with the 2009 1.25bn antitrust settlement they extracted from them. Mike Silverman, AMD company spokesman said, "We're at an inflection point. We will all need to let go of the old 'AMD versus Intel' mind-set, because it won't be about that anymore." He was vague on the exact strategy that AMD intends to pursue from now on, though. However, the company is widely expected to make a concerted effort to break into the smartphones and tablets market. The big problem with this strategy unfortunately, is that this arena is currently dominated by many other competitors. On top of that, their arch enemy Intel is also trying to muscle in on this space, hence AMD could find themselves back at square one, or likely even further back. AMD's graphics cards are doing well at the moment though and are quite competitive, so it looks like their expensive purchase of ATI back in 2006, might yet save the company from extinction. If they become primarily a graphics card company, they will inevitably end up a lot smaller than they are now though and that’s a lot of lost jobs and personal hardship, along with a monopoly x86 market remaining and all of its negative effects on the market.

The current predicament that AMD find themselves in can only be due to bad management, especially with that massive injection of over a billion dollars. Surely they must have seen the way Bulldozer performance was going years ago? Ultimately, it doesn't matter if they would have scrapped Bulldozer as a bad job and tweaked up the reasonable Phenom 2 instead and called it Phenom 3. It doesn't matter a jot what's actually under the hood, what clock speed it runs at and what you call it. Ultimately, it's comparative real-world performance and price that matters, nothing else. Nothing at all. Back in October, we reported on AMD's projection of a 50% CPU performance improvement by 2014. It was clear as day that this was a non-starter against the high performance competition from Intel, who's products are already 50% faster and more right now, so today's announcement that AMD is giving up isn't really all that surprising, although depressing.

AMD's move is bad news for PC enthusiasts everywhere as Intel will now be left with no competition in the x86 market and be an effective monopoly. We're already seeing the effects of this with Intel processors trending upwards in price and Intel's Sandy Bridge replacements, Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge, which essentially give the same per core performance as SB, with just a few tweaks to make them "new" products. With more and more computing power being crammed into an ever smaller space, could it be that high powered PCs will become a very small niche market, having been replaced by laptops, very small form factor, low power computers – and games consoles? And what will happen to AMD and NVIDIA when they can't sell high-powered graphics cards in sufficient quantities to be profitable any more? Doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

There's more info, analysis and quotes on this grim situation over at Mercury News.

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