Is AMD doomed? It's a question on many people's lips, but is it a likely outcome or just the boiling pot of the internet leaping to a catastrophic conclusion? There's no doubt right now that AMD is trailing the competition in terms of finances, but there is still plenty of wiggle room and time for AMD to turn its ship around.
As many of you may know already, AMD took a huge $33 million hit last week in order to cancel production of of its upcoming 20nm processor designs. Focus is instead shifting to the future, with 14nm and 16nm FinFET production coming to the fore. With just over $800 million in the bank, AMD is treading a financial tightrope. $800 million might seem like plenty, but with the sort of cash being thrown around in the CPU and GPU markets, it's a drop in the sea. This, coupled with the flagship Radeon R9 Fury X benchmarks dropping shy of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti, and it stands to reason that some people truly see AMD being bought by Microsoft as a very likely move.
While it's early days yet, it seems the more budget-oriented Radeon R9 Fury is generating a little more buzz, aided by its $549 price point and GTX 980-beating performance. This, combined with greater quality and more regular driver updates could see AMD gain crucial ground. It could make the Fury X more competitive against the GTX 980 Ti. We're seeing the early fruits of AMD's labour already with the Catalyst 15.7 drivers, but the hope is that this can continue in the coming months and years.
The elephant in the room for Nvidia is the High Bandwidth Memory on the Fiji GPU in the Fury models. AMD has got at least a year's head-start over Nvidia's introduction of HBM with Pascal, which could prove absolutely lethal to Nvidia if they unlocked the Fury X’s memory BIOS for enthusiast level overclocking.
Contemplating AMD's future and detailing its current product range is all well and good, but it's important to highlight just why it's important AMD remains a force in both of its markets. AMD's presence keeps the graphics and microprocessor markets competitive, forcing both Intel and Nvidia to offer prices that will fare at least as well against AMD’s offerings for the right price point (usually a slightly higher price). Without AMD to keep the other pair in check, we could see market stagnation accompanied by rising prices - lose/lose for everybody.
What do you think will happen? Microsoft does not seem like it will be willing to let AMD peter out, especially with AMD powering both Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s own Xbox One. However, AMD as we know it could be changed forever if it were to accept Microsoft’s offer. It's difficult to ascertain the outcome, whether for better or for worse.
I personally don’t see it happening because AMD has proven it's a company of fierce independence, capable of extreme innovation despite losses. I also believe that its decision to roll out High Bandwidth Memory was a tactic to specifically regain them a stable foothold in the graphics market, while Zen will hopefully prove a boon in the processor market.
AMD's in tricky territory then, and a big question mark remains over the future of the company as a whole and its CPU and processor departments. It’s a valid question to GD'ers in particular. We're a community involved in all things PC gaming and technology. Your opinion can widely shape not just where your own money goes on your upgrade decisions but also recommendations to friends, family and acquaintances looking for their own PCs. It's a spiralling effect borne from consumer perception.
What do you think AMD's future holds in store? Would a Microsoft buyout be the best move? It's up for debate below!