AMD on the Rebound: A Chat With Henri Richard


Delays and Expectations

Delays and Expectations

HWZ: Talking about Fusion, some think that Fusion is more of a lateral move to create a new market segment, an evolution instead of a revolution. Can you comment on AMD's hopes for Fusion and its impact on the industry?

Henri Richard: I think that was described really well. We do believe that it will create a new category. There is a lot of intrinsic value if you can position yourself as a leader in a category. Today, when you look at the market space, there are only three companies our usual competitor, whose agenda is still very much to ask users to spend most of their dollars on the CPU, and the other company, whose both our partner and in some case our competitor, whose agenda is to say the GPU is the most important part of the system.

The way AMD is positioned is to say, Well listen, let the users choose. Let's give the market, their customers and their end-users the opportunity to differentiate their platform with a mix and match of CPU/GPU/chipset capability.

So, we believe that is the leadership position. We believe that the competition will have to follow. We believe that the product of Fusion not only changes the game and creates a new category, but frankly continues to provide the market with a cost effective solution. Fusion will not only be a high performance product, but also can be a cost effective product because there is a certain amount of simplicity that comes with combining the various technologies.


HWZ: With the merger, it is understandable that certain products have been realigned, but could we have an update on the R600 delays?

Henri Richard: The R600 will be out in the second quarter. The reason we decided to delay the launch was that we wanted to have a complete DX10-enabled solution top to bottom. A lot of people wrote that the reason it is delayed is because of a problem with the silicon, but there is no problem with the silicon. We are demonstrating it. We can ship it today. But if you think about it, looking at where the market is at, the volumes are going to be in the R610 and R630, so it makes sense for us to do a one time launch of the entire family of DX10 enabled products. That meant delaying the R600 for a few weeks, but frankly it doesn't make a difference in the life cycle of the product and talking with our customers and partners, they felt that it would make a bigger impact with one full launch. So we decided to do that.

Also increasingly in particular with Vista, as we've seen with the competition. It doesn't matter if you're shipping the silicon if the drivers are not stable. There is nothing more frustrating than having bought a new graphics card and having your system crash repeatedly because the drivers are not ready. Although we today, even by Microsoft standards, have the best and most stable drivers in the entire industry. The few weeks will give us even more time to continue improving the drivers. Again, the decision lies in the fact that we will have a top to bottom DX10 offering with drivers that will have a very very high level of stability and the only difference is a few weeks. So it seems to make a lot of sense to do it that way.


HWZ: Will we see a revival of AMD as a chipset manufacturer in full force? Will this impact your relationships with close platform partners?

Henri Richard: Absolutely. Though that does not necessarily mean we are not going to keep a completely open ecosystem. We do. We are very, very satisfied with our relationship with NVIDIA. In the commercial space, our customers are looking for a one stop shop, and although we don't have any aspirations to have a 100% share of the market, we believe that there are a lot of customers who will want to have AMD products on AMD chipsets. That is logical. So we are re-investing in that business, we are making sure that the chipsets we bring to market are best of breed. But, in the same time we will not do anything artificial from keeping our partners like NVIDIA from being successful.


HWZ: Will AMD be developing complete integrated solutions ala Intel Centrino then?

Henri Richard: Yes, we will. Absolutely. Though we probably won't bundle them the way Intel did because we want to welcome competition, but we will have full solutions absolutely.


HWZ: Wouldn't it be counter productive to your efforts in fostering an open ecosystem?

Henri Richard: I'm a big believer that the best way to have great products is to have competition. So if I start to create artificial barriers for my chipset division to not be in tune with the real competitive nature of the market, I take a risk of having inferior products. By fostering competition, I force my people to have the best product. And if they do, my partners are then forced to innovate as well and their innovation breeds further innovation. I believe in the virtuous circle of competition. At anytime you put artificial barriers on competition, you really are hurting yourself more than you are hurting your competition.