2013 will be better for AMD

AMD has been in a flux as of late, with the company building an almost entirely new management team headed by CEO Rory Read, CTO Mark Papermaster, CSO Rajan Naik and Lisa Su as VP of the company’s Global Business Unit.

According to RealWorldTech analyst David Kanter, the overall impression of the new management team has been fairly positive thus far, with the top execs demonstrating a clear understanding of critical industry trends.

”Both Papermaster and Su have strong backgrounds in semiconductors and markets beyond just the PC, which hopefully will complement Read’s experience at one of the more innovative PC OEMs (Lenovo),” said Kanter.

“However, these are merely first impressions and the real metrics are the results that the new executive team can deliver over the coming months and years.”

Kanter also noted that AMD’s 2013 roadmap moves the entire client product family to 28nm manufacturing – a substantial improvement over 40nm, with a full node shrink and the introduction of high-k/metal-gate transistors that should benefit performance and power.

“In 2013, AMD will have three major client SoCs, which rely on several different IP blocks. At the high-end is Kaveri, which incorporates 4 Steamroller cores that may have full 256-bit AVX support,” he explained.

“The precise power targets [remain] unclear; Kaveri can probably reach 25W, but not much lower. Kabini is the successor to Brazos and fills the gap below 25W. It will probably use 2-4 Jaguar cores, depending on the power budget and integrates the I/O.”

However, Kanter emphasized that the most significant improvement for AMD’s roadmap is Temash, a tablet-optimized SoC with 1-2 Jaguar cores and integrated I/O. 

“While Hondo is really not suitable for tablets, it is clear that with a shrink to 28nm, Temash should be able to run as low as 2W. That should be especially compelling for more sophisticated Windows 8 tablets, as opposed to the inexpensive e-reader style tablets.”

Overall, says Kanter, AMD’s main goal is to increase market share for notebooks, while moving into the lucrative tablet space.

“The roadmap looks reasonable to that end. Trinity is a substantial improvement in power efficiency and graphics performance, particularly for mainstream 35W notebooks. While it can fit into 17W form factors, it is not a superb fit, but will act as a prelude for future designs. The 40nm Brazos will have to continue to compete on the basis of price, when faced with 22nm and 32nm designs from Intel. 

“2013 should be much better for AMD, as the 28nm product portfolio can hit tablets at around 2W and should have strong offerings for 17W ultrathin notebooks. The thinnest and most power efficient notebooks will continue to be outside of AMD’s reach, but each generation is improving significantly and opening up new doors and more design wins,” he added.