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Advanced Micro Devices
...part of playing your own game is being honest with yourself about your strengths...

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By caromero1965
August 23, 2007

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Just a speculation here... We see Hector speaking pretty frankly about the glitches that required several extra turns to get Barcelona ready. We also saw the flop that was the 4x4 offering (did anyone actually buy those?). Remember Mario Rivas:
http://www.amd.com/us-en/Corporate/AboutAMD/0,,51_52_570_14704,00.html

Mario Rivas is Executive Vice President, Computing Products Group at AMD. Mario is responsible for driving the development, strategy and management for AMD's broad and growing portfolio of consumer and commercial microprocessor solutions. Previously, Mario was corporate vice president for the Office of Strategy Management. In this position, he was responsible for driving AMD's strategic planning process.

vs. Henri:
http://www.amd.com/us-en/Corporate/AboutAMD/0,,51_52_570_11576,00.html

Henri Richard is executive vice president and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at AMD. He oversees AMD's international sales force, corporate marketing and field marketing initiatives.

Richard joined AMD in 2002 as group vice president of worldwide sales.

Rivas was quoted as saying, "If I could do something different, I wish we would have immediately done a MCM - two dual cores and call it a quad-core." (http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=462)

I guess the question for me is, where did the 4x4 idea originate? And who decided that true quad core was worth leaving a hole in the product line for?

Does that wrong decision-- which is clearly a big part of why AMD dropped out of the running-- stem from someone (Henri?) saying "Give me 4x4 and I can sell it to desktop customers?"

Does it come from strategy (Rivas?) saying "We don't need a MCM quad core, the customers who would really benefit from it will still buy plenty of Opterons?"

Does it come from engineering over-promising and not having a plan B in the form of a fake quad core, even if that meant letting Barcelona take a little longer?

Does it come from the top, failing to sort through these different aspects of the problem?

If you look at the "server first" mindset it actually suggests doing the fake quad core. Take this from the ZDNet blog post I cited above:
...customers don't really care how they get four cores in a socket so long as they're being charged less money for software licensing, they're paying less for servers with fewer sockets, and they're getting the performance of four CPU cores out of a single CPU.

This reasoning should have been decisive, in terms of chasing the server customers-- it could quite possibly have kept Intel out of Google's machines and those of other enterprise customers who have drifted away from Opteron.

Secondarily, it could have given AMD a credible answer to the Kentsfield for the enthusiast market, who seem unsure of what the letters "A-M-D" spell these days. (Of course the fake quad core would have had to clock slower to fit in the same power and cooling budget, but...)

When K8 showed up, AMD basically set out to leave Intel no sanctuary-- to go toe to toe with them in every segment except perhaps the cheap seats. When I had a fair degree of faith in Barcelona turning up sooner rather than later, I thought "Okay, at least AMD isn't going into reactive mode and chasing Intel-- better to play their own game." But part of playing your own game is being honest with yourself about your strengths, your weaknesses, the risks they expose you to, and making appropriate contingency plans... it looks like AMD didn't do that.

So I don't know whether Henri is a scapegoat due to the poor sales, or just fed up and going over the wall. I'm also not sure where the real problem was, that led to the strategic choice of the 4x4. As usual, I'm thinking out loud rather than offering conclusions. When I sat down to write this I was thinking of Henri as the problem, though I'm increasingly thinking "no."

What do people think? More departures called for? More departures likely?

-A