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Where Are the AMD Tablets?

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It seems that every year AMD (NASDAQ: AMD  ) makes a pretty large fuss about a next-generation mobile product, but year after year these products don't materialize in many shipping designs. Some argue that the same argument could be applied to larger PC chip rival Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) , but there are numerous quality Windows-based tablets shipping with Intel silicon, even if Intel's Bay Trail on Android continues to be MIA. So a simple question that AMD investors should try to answer is: Where are all of the AMD tablets?

A trip to AMD's website: Trying to buy an AMD tablet
To see what kind of progress AMD has made in securing tablet designs, a trip to AMD's website is in order. Clicking on the "where to buy" button on AMD's tablet page reveals some interesting results. Of the 10 tablets available in total, the breakdown by chip is as follows:

  • AMD Dual-Core A4 Series: four tablets.
  • AMD Dual-Core Z-Series APU: three tablets.
  • AMD Quad-Core A6-Series: three tablets.

Of the four dual-core A4 based devices, three were 11.6-inch designs and one was a 13.3-inch detachable Windows 8 PC. Not a single one was a "tablet" in the sense of a traditional 10.1-inch or 9.7-inch design. Of the quad-core A6 based devices, all three were 13.3-inch designs from Hewlett-Packard. And naturally, the older Z-series APU based designs weren't anything to write home about, particularly as reviews panned both the performance and battery lives of products based on this chip (since the chip was unsuitable for thin and light tablets).

Compare that with Intel
Since AMD's chips are only targeted toward Windows right now, its only real competitor in the Windows tablet chip space is Intel, so a comparison is appropriate. Today there are a number of tablets with Bay Trail, Intel's latest 22-nanometer tablet-oriented chip, from many vendors, including:

  • ASUS.
  • Acer.
  • Fujitsu.
  • Dell.
  • Sharp.
  • Lenovo.
  • Toshiba.
  • Ramos.

These designs come in both 10.1-inch and 8-inch flavors, and these tablets have gotten pretty solid reviews for their performance and battery life. Of course, there are varying degrees of quality across the vendors (and Windows tablets aren't anywhere near as big of a market as Android and iOS tablets are), and you'll probably notice that these are relatively small names in the tablet market, but the breadth and quality of the offerings looks markedly higher than those powered by AMD.

Will Mullins do the trick?
When the Z-60 came out, it was "wait for Temash". Now that Temash is out, about, and garnering very little design win traction, AMD has been talking up its successor SoC for tablets code-named Mullins. Mullins apparently features an updated CPU core (probably with more aggressive Turbo) and at the system-on-a-chip level manages to bring power down.

This may be as a result of removing some of the I/Os that are PC-use only (similar to what Intel did with Bay Trail-T versus Bay Trail-M) as well as some architectural optimizations and enhancements. Only time will tell whether Mullins can finally find its way in competitive Windows-based tablets, but by then AMD will be contending with Intel's next-generation Cherry Trail

Foolish bottom line
While AMD has talked a big game, particularly around tablets, it simply has yet to deliver the goods in terms of the right product (AMD's current tablet offerings are missing several key IP blocks for tablets such as a dedicated image signal processor) at the right time in the right designs. And even if AMD sorts its product story out, the right chip is only just the beginning in this highly competitive, cutthroat industry. It is a necessary, but insufficient, condition to long-term business success.

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Read/Post Comments (18) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2014, at 8:38 PM, romeras wrote:

    Where Are the Intel smartphnes ?

    Is Intel doomed ?

    Between 2009 and 2012, CPU performance increased at between 10% and 20% per year, rather than the 60% predicted by Moore's Law. Switching from the 32 nm or 28 nm nodes to the 22 nm node on a 300 mm wafer increases design costs by half, process development costs by 45%, and fabrication costs by about 40%, according to a December 13, 2013, McKinsey & Co. report.

    The process-development cost of dropping below 20 nm could exceed $1 billion and require updates in fabrication facilities that could cost more than $10 billion, according to the McKinsey analysis, which suggested the result could be a dramatic disruption in the economics of the semiconductor business.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2014, at 10:19 PM, jkubinak1339 wrote:

    "from many vendors, including:"

    AE - from every vendor that Intel is financing with their billion dollar MDF.

    AMD is shut out of the market in tab's as Intel paid for the US market - but good luck buying a console win - or verizon server win - or ARM server win.

    I was thinking you were a paid basher but you dont even know AMD's real challenges - tablets?

    what a joke

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2014, at 10:29 PM, typecheck wrote:

    tablet revenue for AMD is virtually zero percentage in the past and will be close to zero percent in the foreseeable future.

    Why? Because Windows tablet market is not profitable for chip makers. Intel is losing money for the processors it sold to the tablet market. So how is this a good strategy for AMD to try to compete it?

    AMD talks big game in lot of areas: consoles, servers, PC games, professional graphics, APUs. Hey, AMD has been successful in all of them except the tablet. So I wouldn't call it a bad batting average. Would you?

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2014, at 1:29 AM, romeras wrote:

    This is what the death of Moore’s law looks like: EUV rollout slowed, 450mm wafers halted, and an uncertain path beyond 14nm

    The death of Moore’s law

    At the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference at the end of February, a group of lithography engineers — men and women who have spent their careers pushing the boundaries of Moore’s law — toasted its death. This is the economic reality we predicted 15 months ago — flat scaling at 20nm compared to 28nm, and only marginal improvements predicted thereafter.

    Read the full article here:

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 2:08 PM, Patapuf wrote:

    This article has only one target. To bring a few cents into Ashraf pocket. Poor boy with poor character. 23 year old poor boy thinkink he is journalist or investor or tech expert. Missed three times. He must grow before to be anything of it.

    Time to look for regular job. What do you think, Ashraf? Are you finished?

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 3:38 PM, TEBuddy wrote:

    So, do you really have to rehash all of your AMD hate points over and over??? I mean, how many articles do you already have that say Temash is not good enough, and the proof is there are very few wins. On the flip side, I can write this article and say AMD finally has something of interest with Mullins, and may actually have more design wins.

    It was proven that Temash was more powerful that Intel's offerings, it just required too much power, which required more cooling and bigger batteries. Understandably, it was not popular, but performance wise it was better. AMD missed their mark on the power efficiency, but now we are seeing what is essentially the same chip with a few tweaks that gets more than 100% better performance per watt. Obviously, that is where AMD meant to be with Temash, but failed. They did not have the time and money to run another iteration before releasing some processors.

    So again, how many times will you publish an article with the same information?

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 3:57 PM, keeperoftheq wrote:

    Ashraf, How about the Apple IPhone 6 possible using the AMD chip. I read the article you wrote and it was posted on the Apple headlines but for some reason it never showed up on the AMD headlines.

    Intel is also failing to make market share in the tablet space. Intel will be selling the chips for a loss trying to get traction. I suspect that will be short lived.

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 4:05 PM, Tj1952 wrote:

    AE Welcome to TMFool.. I have been ignoring all SA articles since your last article. Frankly speaking, I'm glad to see your bashers are following & obviously all but hardcore AMD fan....... Cheers!

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 4:07 PM, mtechac wrote:

    That's like the fox asking where are the chickens...

    Which is why HP, Dell, and other short sighted companies are in such a bad shape. Accepting money from Intel to shut down competition while overcharging the customers is never a good way to do business.

    It worked with AMD, in the x86 arean, but is not going to work with ARM because THE PEOPLE don't like to be screwed by companies like Intel..

    Intel lost the 32-bit business and will begin losing the 64-bit business because Intel is bleeding billions in dollars subsidizing their products in order to be able to compete with ARM and spending billions in dollars trying to stay ahead in the chip foundry business.

    The two latter business models are a death sentence to Intel since it just keep bleeding money while ARM and its ARM licencees continue to make money. 64-bit ARM products will begin flooding the market and Intel will lose all its high profit areas and will have to deeply reorganize. 64-bit servers, workstations, laptops, etc.. are all coming these year and the next ones..

    HP, Dell, and other companies would be much better prepared for these new times if they would not have join Intel in creating a monopoly by shutting down the competition..

    I am safer investing in AMD than with Intel, and with AMD current new technology and rock bottom stock prices, AMD is a great company to invest and make multiple 100% since it will never go under.. while Intel's inaction to deeply reorganize makes it very vulnerable to a very hard crash...

    You are the fox friend, so you know what happened to the chickens, so it begs to ask, why are you asking what happened to the chickens if you already know it...?

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 4:30 PM, musicinmykey wrote:

    AMD must have hit $4.00+ That's when this idiot comes out from under his rock. It's the same story with this guy. Every opinion piece is about how INTC is hurting AMD. How yesterday! Hello. it's 2014. I'm guessing if the stock makes it up to $4.50, he'll be slinging hate articles on SA and Fool day in, day out. Lucky us!

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 4:40 PM, Amdisgod wrote:

    If you listened to their conference call 2 quarters ago you would know Tablet space is not a target for them.

    Personally the one thing keeping me from buying a windows tablet is the lack of an AMD option. I am not putting a penny into Intel contra-revenue chip-bribery.

    AMD chips would make a better tablet, but Intel wants to buy the market like they have for 15 years.

    I will damn Intel into the fiery abyss.


  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 5:15 PM, Stuart511 wrote:

    Same old, same old Ashraf......once again his Intel stock is dead money to him and he blames AMD for all his woes.

    Thanks for the entertaining piece. I enjoy all the readers bashing you every time you bash AMD.

    Enjoy the ten cents I just made for you.

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 5:35 PM, rav55 wrote:

    Hmmm... where is Ashraf's brain?

    Why are you so obsessed with only negative pieces about AMD?

    You've become tedious, a boor.

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 8:25 PM, wownwow wrote:

    In addition to the comments above, Intel is more than 43x of AMD, so for every AMD tablet Intel needs to have at least 43!

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 8:31 PM, nicoboyboot wrote:

    How many times does Rory have to tell you that AMD is not interested in gadget like Tablets. Where were you at CES????? All these gadgets are nothing without Data Centers. Lets talk servers that are coming. Get ready INTEL, AMD is the only one that has both ARM and x86 solutions. AMD is not interested in low margin business, they made that clear. By the way I am not in agreement that writers on the FOOL should have any holdings in the stock they write about, that's what gives the FOOLS a trashy reputation. You for one certainly have one.

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 9:45 PM, rav55 wrote:

    Tablets are very low margin devices and there is not an x86 tablet on the market that can compete with Samsung or Apple. AMD is this year releasing silicon for that space so lets wait and see shall we? As of now ALL x86 tablets are fat and clumsy with poor battery life.

    Intel is still trying to sell products based on benchmarks and Samsung and the rest of the market leaders are selling products based and features such as visual quality.

    In this space nobody cares about how fast you can calculate pi to a bazillion decimal places.

    Tablet oems are eating their young to compete in a market that has very little return unless it is in very high volumes.

  • Report this Comment On April 01, 2014, at 4:18 AM, raghu78 wrote:

    Temash A6-1450 was not a suitable tablet chip as it had a 8W TDP. Mullins fits in a 4.5W TDP with 2-3w SDP and brings AMD into the tablet game. Mullins thrashes Baytrail in GPU performance while being competitive in CPU performance. Maybe thats why AE is worried.

  • Report this Comment On April 01, 2014, at 10:34 PM, rav55 wrote:

    The FOOL does not care about the quality of Ashraf's writing as long as he can attract eyeball's to this site.

    I have come to realize that he has really nothing cogent to say about ANYTHING in the market.

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Ashraf Eassa

Ashraf Eassa is a technology specialist with The Motley Fool. He writes mostly about technology stocks, but is especially interested in anything related to chips -- the semiconductor kind, that is. Follow him on Twitter:

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