Although wildly different in terms of size and product portfolio – Intel, AMD and Microsoft are all suffering from the same kind of illness. The world plus dog turned left, toward a future of smartphones, tablets and low-cost-lightweight thinking, while the traditional leaders stayed on the path toward the hugely powerful. In a fast changing world, could AMD partner up with Samsung to mount a serious effort to get back on the right [Er, left?] path?
Market sources tell us that a key reason for the slow roll through to full mass production for the 7950/70 products, was that the wafer slots had previously been bought up by nVidia and qualcomm. There were wafers available because, rolling back 12-24 months, AMD’s now departed senior management team members didn’t think the chip-challenger had to rely so much on TSMC in the future.
If 2012 is as slow as some analysts are predicting, then the time could be right for all of the non-FAB companies out there to re-evaluate their options, ready for the expected boom in sales that 2013/14 will bring.
Earlier today, KitGuru reported on an up-coming Forbes article on how AMD missed the chance to land Fusion APUs inside the Apple Macbook Air, because Global Foundries was not able to get the Llano processors out the door in time.
If you consider that KitGuru managed to get hands-on with a Llano processor way back in mid-2010, you have to wonder why the company was not ready to switch on mass production by 2011, unless there were production issues.
Backed by the undying support of an entire nation of 50 million people, Samsung manages to span a huge number of markets with its distinctive brand. It pioneers design and manufacturing on products as diverse as memory, flat panels, storage devices and the processes used in production itself. It managed to spend as much time partnering with Apple as it does fighting tooth and nail with the Jobs’ legacy in court.
Ramping up on the smartphone side of things, while at the same time launching its own quad core processors on 32nm process, Samsung has everything that AMD would need in a production partner – including millions and millions of Samsung branded technology devices each year, each of which could benefit from Fusion/APU technology.
It’s worth noting that while Samsung’s knobbling together of four Cortex A9 cores at 1.5GHz with a proprietary graphics solution that, for now, only offers four pixel processors that munch 57 million triangles a second – the future could be a lot more competitive. Plus Samsung has a major customer, in itself.
AMD made a big noise about launching the world’s first 28nm graphics card, but Samsung already has a fully functional 28nm production process – while AMD scrambles to get what it can from a horribly constricted TSMC.
Samsung was able to do so well in the competitive netbook market because it not only sold you a netbook, it also sold you the hard drive, screen and memory etc inside.
KitGuru says: Once you start to extrapolate in this area, you quickly end up with ‘AMD moves production to Samsung’, followed by ‘Samsung buys interest in AMD’ and eventually you land on ‘Samsung buys AMD’. Moving down that line, you end up stretching the possible – but does the logic actually reach breaking point? Microsoft wants to beat Apple. Samsung wants to beat Apple. Neither has the patent stack that AMD’s sitting on.
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