The company's CEO has taken AMD on a transitional path that appears to be more disruptive than any other event in the company's history, especially in light of the ongoing change in executive management. There is no interest at AMD to continue a processor war with Intel that has lasted decades, but only rewarded AMD with occasional superiority.
“That era is done,” Rory Read said in an interview and added, “There’s enough processing power on every laptop on the planet today.” Uh oh. Those quotes leave room for speculation that is significant enough to upset an entire loyal customer base of enthusiast users and may not have been the smartest choice of words.
It would be a bit premature to assume that AMD is not developing chips that are at least somewhat performance-competitive, but there is a clear shift in thinking that appears to be moving away from Intel being the focus to the building threat from ARM chip makers, including Nvidia. Instead of being focused on performance, AMD appears to be looking much more on cost and indirectly join a force that is building up against Intel - and especially against exclusionary marketing moves such as the Ultrabook pitch.
“I think we come in and steal the bacon around the whole thin-and-light movement and capture a significant portion of the opportunity there,” Read said.
Of course, he recognizes that AMD has to change as a whole and traditional weaknesses have to be addressed.
“It can be a very different AMD going forward, but we have a long way to go,” he said. “There’s been a passion for innovation but there needs to be a passion for delivery and a passion for the customers.”
That transformation may be done by 2015, according to Read. Given the executive changes we have seen in recent months, it is somewhat apparent that the old blood of AMD has been flushed out and replaced with a new way of thinking. Given the pace Read is driving AMD, the company may have already crossed a point of no return. It's going to be a new era for AMD and it will be interesting to see if it will have a chance to play for the market lead.