Is AMD Doomed?

Opinion: AMD frantically tries to get its CPU act together, even as its GPU division trails in the performance arena. Can better process technologies and foreign investments save AMD?

I was as startled as anyone to see last Fridays news that Abu Dhabis Mubadala Development Company handed AMD $622 million in exchange for 8.1 percent of the company. That puts AMDs overall valuation at roughly $7.7 billion, slightly above what the current stock price would indicate.

That $622 million infusion gives AMD some vital financial breathing room, given that its lost more than $1.6 billion so far this year. Add $5.3 billion in debt, and only $1.5 billion in cash on hand (now, presumably, $2.16 billion), the situation is not pretty.

The real heart of the matter, though, is not AMDs financial situation. The companys financial situation is directly the result of its execution in the market.

Lets step back a few years, to AMDs halcyon days. Back then, CTO Fred Weber was on a roll, after having architected AMDs rise to performance prominence over archrival Intel with AMDs Hammer processor family. K8 became known as the Athlon 64 and later, the Athlon 64 X2 as AMD shipped dual core versions. The native dual core X2 CPUs were the darling of PC performance enthusiasts everywhere, running rings around equivalent Intel processors in terms of performance while at the same time using less power and putting out lower heat.

Intels only response at the time, in terms of product, was to slap two very hot CPU dies into one package and call it a dual core CPU. On the one hand, they actually beat AMD to market with their dual core Smithfield product. But it was a very hot solution and was an underperforming relative to what AMD was shipping.

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