Post of the Day
April 5, 2000

Board Name:
Advanced Micro Devices

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Subject:  AMD Reseller Seminar
Author:  RenderFool

I have just finished off an AMD Reseller Seminar this evening and thought fellow shareholders would like to get updated with a few facts (instead of relying on unnamed sources) with what is going on with AMD.

First off, the seminar I went to is basically for OEM manufacturers, distributors and/or retail stores. There was no NDA signed during the seminar so pretty much most of the information is public knowledge. This means that some of the information are rehash of what is already known. There might be a few tidbits that you might find interesting. Warning, some areas may be a bit technical.

The meeting started off with an introduction of AMD as a company. For those who didn't know AMD is founded in 1969, has 13,300 employees worldwide and does more than 50% of their sales internationally (not in the US).

In 1999, they made record sales however due to their high investment into the Dresden plan (Fab 30), they actually lost money for 1999. The Dresden plant was built to support AMD in the long term. Their existing plant (Fab 25) in Austin TX was one of the best chip producing plant built which made possible for AMD's 17% CPU world wide unit market share in Q4'99 (according to Mercury Research). The Dresden plant is more sophisticated and should at least match the output from their Fab 25 plant. The output of both plants combined should be sufficient for AMD to reach their goal of 30% market share by the end of 2001.

Basically the AMD processor families can be summarized with their Athlon for their performance segment and their K6-2 for their value segment. What happened to their K6-III processor? They found out that even though it is a good processor, most end users do not care much about full speed cache over MHz speed. Most resellers would order a AMD K6-2 450MHz over a AMD K6-III 400MHz. So the K6-III will get phased out and the last K6-III processor seen will be that with the AMD K6-2+ and AMD K6-III+. The plus notation means that it would be developed with .18 micron technology, on die cache, and is ONLY for the mobile market.

That will be the last you will see of the AMD K6-2 or K6-III family since with the introduction of the "Spitfire" processor, AMD will have a new "brand" which will offer "Athlon technology" for the value market. It will only be available in the Socket A.

Their "Thunderbird" (or rather "Tbird" like they call it) processor will support both Socket A and Slot A until the end of 2000. They want to do this so it will provide reseller ample time to switch to the new platform.

The "Mustang" processor (2H '00) will larger on die cache compared to the "Tbird". They say they have the ability to make the cache up to 1-2MB in size. However these processors *will* be expensive and is primarily designed for the workstation and server market. There will be another spin of the "Mustang" for the mobile space. This will be the first mobile processor to support the Athlon technology.

The "SledgeHammer" processor is scheduled for a 2001 release and would be the "eighth generation microprocessor" and will be the chip that AMD will use to maintain their leadership in x86 performance. The core is 32bit and 64 bit capable, will have a new floating point unit, and can perform multiple processes on the same die.

They also showed the AMD platform roadway with the chipsets. It looks like AMD got lots of other chipset manufacturers to help them. Beside the AMD-750 chipset that are being used now for Athlon systems, they will produce only the AMD-760 which will support 200/266 DDR RAM, and the AMD-770 which supports up to 2 CPUs late this year. The funny thing is that 3rd party vendors (API, Hot Rail) will be making chipsets that will support more than 2 processors. Via will produce a version of their KX-133 chipset that supports Socket A. SIS and Via will later produce a Socket A chipset which will have integrated graphics. Personally, I think AMD is just as bad as Intel is with their chipsets. The chipset only companies like VIA, SIS, ALI seem to do a better job designing them.

On this is before the technical breakout session (I could have gone to the marketing one, but I found the technical one more fascinating). One of the main reason the Athlon performs as well as it does is because it is based on the high-speed Alpha EV6 Bus technology. This allows support for high speed bus and multiple processors. The current bus speed is only at 200MHz with the design supporting a theoretical maximum bus speed of over 400MHz. The Athlon's system bus supports point to point dedicated architecture which allows for 24 outstanding transactions possible per processor (versus only 4-8 using Intel's Pentium III bus).

AMD is working hard with motherboard vendors to get their boards validated for the Athlon. They have validation centers in Taiwan and in Austin for this purpose. Besides motherboard, the second most validate component is the power supply. The Athlon requires a specific ramp up procedure or else it won't function properly.

The "Tbird" and "Spitfire" will require different heatsink/fan compared to existing Pentium III/Celeron PGA heatsink/fan. This is because they have "different thermal requirements".

Computer Associates will be releasing a FREE computer-monitoring program for AMD family CPUs. This will be given to OEMs and will include an anti-virus program and have the ability to show hardware/software inventory on the system. This is supposed to make it easier to troubleshoot PCs and to complete with Intel's LANDesk software.

There was a brief Q&A after the session. A reseller asked how come AMD doesn't show their roadway better for their server products like Intel. It will be difficult for him to sell AMD servers if he can't show a roadway to the customer to indicate that AMD is serious of the server market. The main reason why AMD does not do that is because AMD fears Intel's marketing powers. Intel's marketing division is funded with more money than AMD makes in a YEAR. The example given was the 1GHz fiasco. They said that it was pre-announced that AMD has 1GHz processors available. So Intel surprised AMD by announcing that they will have 1GHz processor in a week. However during this time AMD was already working with OEMs on the 1GHz processors and had to rush supplied to beat Intel's announcement. They said that if they didn't do the pre-announcement, they would have been better off and catch Intel off guard. One question also asked was what is the L2 cache size on the "Spitfire". The AMD presenter wasn't able to tell us that. : )

Here is the juicy part: During the dinner with the AMD rep, we were having a discussion regarding stock performances. It is "highly" likely that AMD will beat earning. Of course this is no official statement, but the AMD rep seems confident. He also expect that the market knows about it and the stock price has already adjusted itself for the news.

Another cute tidbit is during the closing presentation, they mention that there will be news from software developers regarding the Enhanced 3DNow! Instructions on the Athlon processor. My guess is that it would be with regards to the Dolby Digital Surround or the soft ADSL instructions. This would be exclusive to the Athlon processor as the Pentium III does not support these instructions.

In the binder they gave us, there are a few other bits regarding the 64-bit instructions for the "Sledgehammer" and some other future trends that they are predicting. I won't post that now since it can be lengthy (as if this post isn't). However, if you like this post or would like me to write more on the seminar, please recommend it. Thank you.


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