AMD: Intel's Sandy Bridge Problem Is Our Gain

An AMD official says OEMs have turned to the company in the wake of Intel's Sandy Bridge chipset flaws.

In the wake of an embarrassing design flaw concerning Intel's "Sandy Bridge," archrival Advanced Micro Devices took the opportunity to point out that Intel's recent chipset troubles have boosted business at AMD.

Leslie Sobon, AMD vice president of product and platform marketing, told Dow Jones Newswires that PC makers had contacted AMD for their chipsets and guidance following Intel's declaration of a design flaw in a chipset that supports the company's new "Sandy Bridge" processors.

"We have some customers and retailers who have come to us specifically as a result of Intel's chip problem," Sobon told the news organization. "Some retailers have had to take things off their shelves, so they call us to ask what they could get from our OEMs that's similar. And OEMs are asking us for product, as well."

Intel rolled out the Sandy Bridge chips during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, which combine Intel 3D HD graphics capabilities with microprocessors on one 32-nanometer device. Company CEO Paul Otellini predicted the Sandy Bridge platform--which Intel calls the 2nd Generation Core processors--will account for one-third of Intel's 2011 revenue and will generate more than $125 billion in revenue for the PC sector.

The design flaw, announced by Intel Jan. 31, affected four of six SATA (Serial ATA) ports in the chipset, which over time could cause problems in the performance of such PC peripherals as the SATA hard-disk drive or optical drive. Intel executives estimated that the problem could affect 5 to 15 percent of the chipsets made, and stressed that the issue was with the chipset and not the Sandy Bridge processors.

Intel has since resumed shipments of the chipset to PC makers whose PC configurations were not affected by the problem, but the damage has likely been done, despite Intel's assertion that it had subsequently found a fix for the problem and was beginning to manufacture new chipsets with the problem corrected.

Acer, Dell, Samsung and HP all announced they would take a range of actions, including offering refunds or replacements to buyers of PCs with the problem chipset. Intel said about 8 million of the flawed chipsets have been shipped. All OEMs affected said they are working closely with Intel on plans to help affected consumers.

In the long run, however, some analysts feel the episode, though a high-profile embarrassment for mighty Intel (the company dominates the worldwide notebook processor market with an estimated 86 percent market share; AMD controls just 14 percent), will do little long-term damage to the company. That's excusing the $1 billion in lost revenue and related expenses Intel executives predicted the flawed chips will result in.

That's not to say things are running in perfect form over at AMD: the company, still searching for a new CEO following the departure of Dirk Meyer in January, is also losing Robert Rivet, chief operations and administrative officer, and Marty Seyer, senior vice president of corporate strategy, according to an AMD statement released Feb. 9.

John Docherty, senior vice president of manufacturing operations, is assuming Rivet's responsibilities-he is in charge of all aspects of AMD's manufacturing process-and will report to Thomas Siefert, the company's chief financial officer and acting CEO until a replacement for Meyer is found.