AMD: Survival and the Future


Toms's: Tell us about what is happening in the notebook, desktop and server segments.

J. Polster: In Western Europe, the notebook market in the consumer segment is seeing the largest growth, at 70%. Desktop sales account for the remaining 30%. Naturally, the server segment shows less movement. We are well-represented in each of these three segments. With the Turion processor, we have established ourselves in the notebook segment. We've already discussed the Phenom CPU, and the quad-core Opteron is our powerful and efficient CPU technology for the server market.

Toms's: Would it be feasible for AMD to focus completely on the more profitable server segment?

J. Polster: No, absolutely not. We are a company that owns and operates its own production facilities, and these plants need to operate at full capacity. This is a direct result of the high investments required for a new fab. Theoretically, it would be nice if we could focus on the profitable server segment, but that strategy will never work in practice. The volumes are much too low. Low-Power Versions of the Phenom

Toms's: Will we see new processors in the notebook segment anytime soon?

J. Polster: Yes, indeed. We will be introducing a new notebook platform code named Puma, which will contain the Griffin processor. The key advantages of the new platform are longer battery runtimes, higher graphics performance and expanded video functionality. The ability to switch between integrated and dedicated graphics will also be a very interesting feature.

Toms's: What's the current status of chip fabrication in Dresden? Is everything going according to plan?

J. Polster: Yes, everything in Dresden is proceeding as planned. Fab 36 is producing 65-nm parts, while the pilot batches of 45-nm parts are also right on schedule. We're currently ramping down 200 mm production in Fab 30. The first 300 mm tools have already been installed in the new Fab 38, which will begin production alongside Fab 36 in the course of the next year. Fab 38 will become a self-contained production site in 2009.

Toms's: How long will production of the "old" Athlon 64 continue, and will we be seeing new models?

J. Polster: We will continue to produce the Athlon 64 for as long as there is a market for it. However, the CPUs have been repositioned since the introduction of the new Phenom processor.

Toms's: Energy efficiency is still a hot topic. Will there be special "energy efficient" models of the Phenom similar to those we saw for the Athlon 64?

J. Polster: Yes, AMD will be offering energy-efficient versions of the Phenom. We will introduce processors with reduced core voltages in 2008.

Toms's: Thanks to the Cool'n'Quiet 2.0 power saving technology, you are theoretically a step ahead of your rival Intel. How does the end user benefit from this?

J. Polster: The end user benefits as soon as he installs a Phenom processor or uses the Spider platform whose components (CPU, graphics card, and chipset) combine a number of power saving techniques. In addition to Cool'n'Quiet 2.0, the platform also offers AMD's CoolCore technology and Dual Dynamic Power Management, for example.

Toms's: The Geode processor, which has been available for several years, only consumes about 2 Watts of power. Couldn't this CPU be used in the consumer segment with a good publicity effect? Rumor has it that Intel is currently designing a CPU for the iPhone 2.

J. Polster: That is an interesting point. Basically, we're facing a situation today where nobody in the consumer market wants to know what chip or processor powers a device. In the end, the buying decision is influenced by the brand name of the product. The same applies to the competition. Apple would never advertise by focusing on the processor. We can't produce graphics chips on a SOI process

Toms's: Are there any plans for the UMPC market, i.e. compact portable PCs with low power consumption?

J. Polster: The UMPC market is one with very low sales volumes. We'll be there when that market grows. For now, there are no clear signals for this to happen. We're talking about a product here that is positioned between a notebook and an iPhone.

Toms's: Let's talk about physics acceleration in 3D games. When could technology for such mathematical calculations be integrated into graphics chips?

J. Polster: Thanks to our merger between AMD and ATI, we have a lot more possibilities now, so that such a development is indeed feasible. Currently, a lot depends on software support, which is still lacking for now. We see this as a medium-term development. Naturally, we also think about how to harness the power of graphics chips for demanding tasks as well.

Toms's: Currently, TSMC in Taiwan produces all of ATI's graphics chips. When can we expect to see the first graphics chips out of Dresden?

J. Polster: Dresden is our worldwide processor manufacturing center. Almost all of our CPUs are produced there in our Fab 36. However, don't forget that we are talking about two very different production processes for CPUs and GPUs. For example, we can't produce graphics chips on a SOI process. Nonetheless, you can expect Dresden to play an important role in producing our upcoming Fusion technology.

Toms's: What's the deal with the cooperation between AMD and Nvidia in the chipset business? Are the contracts about to expire?

J. Polster: Even though we are offering our own platform with Spider, we are still in favor of solutions with open standards - and Nvidia is still a part of that strategy.

Toms's: Can you share some information about the revenue situation within the company? For example, is the graphics business currently subsidizing the processor division?

J. Polster: No, we don't publicize this information on principle.

Toms's: Future hard drives - so called solid-state disks - will be based on flash memory. How far along is the development in your plant in Austin, Texas preparing for this new market?

J. Polster: That is not related to our core business, but rather to that of Spansion. Since Spansion is meanwhile an independent company, I would recommend asking there. I can say this much, though: in principle, we are convinced that flash memory will be very successful.

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