AMD cutting 1,400 workers in first move by new CEO

Nov 03, 2011 By JORDAN ROBERTSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is cutting some 1,400 workers as a weak computer market and manufacturing delays have hurt the world's second-biggest maker of microprocessors for PCs.

The layoffs announced Thursday amount to about 12 percent of the company's 12,000 workers and are the first big move by AMD's new CEO, Rory Read, who was hired from Lenovo Group in August.

AMD is struggling with an industrywide problem: weak PC sales growth, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, which has been anemic because of the economy and competition from smartphones and tablets.

Although PC shipments continue to grow, the pace is slowing sharply. Shipments of PCs rose in the third quarter but at a more sluggish pace than market research firms IDC and Gartner Inc. expected. That has raised concerns about the strength of the market going in to the holiday shopping season.

Most of AMD's business comes from PCs, and it doesn't have a meaningful presence in smartphones and tablets.

Read's job in large part is to help devise a strategy for AMD to penetrate those new computing markets where it and rival Intel Corp. have been largely absent. The battle has taken on a new dimension as AMD's and Intel's market share in PCs has reached a steady balance for years - Intel's chips are in about 80 percent of the world's PCs, and AMD's are in essentially the rest.

But the market for mobile devices is wide open, and AMD and Intel are both weak there. That has hurt AMD more because of its smaller size and was a key reason for AMD's ouster in January of Read's predecessor, Dirk Meyer.

Meyer in some ways had an excuse: He was orchestrating a triage as he tried to manage the company's spinoff of its manufacturing operations while fending off Intel and overseeing the launch of an important new type of chip for AMD. That chip has sophisticated graphics and general processing capabilities on the same piece of silicon, a technical achievement.

Another factor behind Thursday's announcement was that AMD has struggled with manufacturing problems that have postponed the shipment of those new chips, which are called "accelerated processing units."

The layoffs and other unspecified operational changes are expected to save $200 million in 2012.

AMD shares increased 5 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $5.78 in extended trading Thursday after the cuts were announced.

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User comments : 23

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astro_optics
not rated yet Nov 03, 2011
Why isn't AMD concentration on low power devices and Tablets, as that's where the market is?
kaasinees
4 / 5 (4) Nov 03, 2011
More unemployment great...

AMD shares increased 5 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $5.78 in extended trading Thursday after the cuts were announced.


Yet again proof of shareholder pressure of laying of jobs.

What the hell is going on.
Drumsk8
3 / 5 (2) Nov 03, 2011
AMD 'IS' concentrating on tablets again another poorly informed writer talking out his ....

Apart from apple which make there own chips all other major tablets use the Tegra chips from AMD in fact the next version is a monster waiting to be unleashed. Cheap tablets are effectively crap and don't even come in the same league as the main players. I am sure AMD's ATI division has seen reasonable sales vs Nvidia they always swap the crown every 6/12 months or so. What has hurt AMD more then anything is that it's Tegra chips aren't used in phones, and their CPU's have lacked in power behind Intel for a long time now. Athlon was it's last Intel killer but unfortunately they've not closed that gap in 5 years now and every body knows it. unless your on a really tight budget would you spend your money on a new computer with a chip that's subpar to the competition? I think not.
Even their new CPU Bulldoser is not as good as the current iCore intel chips the industry knows it.
Drumsk8
3 / 5 (2) Nov 03, 2011
If AMD is to recover they need to not only streamline which is what the new CEO is doing, but they need to seriously go back to the drawing board on their CPU architecture. If they nail it, they will be very popular again, I have very much enjoyed the K7's and Athlons when they kicked ass. Even the new architecture in bulldozer doesn't address very well known issues in it's previous generation phenom X series. If it's only good at a small segment of the market then you've only got a small target audience. Latest benchmarks for the cpu have put gaming performance well under that of the Intel i7's and barely even performs better then their older chips. [ top end bulldozer equates to the i5 series] As to there promise to reach 3.6ghz speed and give 30% performance improvement over their last gen, again they've failed. Stats and performance speak louder then words in a market as cut throat as IT.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 03, 2011
"I have very much enjoyed the K7's and Athlons when they kicked ass" - Drumsk8

But not now? Has their performance dropped? Or have you simply grown accustomed to throwing away all of the supercomputer compute power of those chips?
210
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2011
And the US Air Force announced MEGA layoffs today...shucks, dagnabit, shoot, heck!

word-
Drumsk8
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 03, 2011
Vendicar If we didn't need more processing power and extra extensions then why would we need to upgrade as OS's and applications get heaver? I wouldn't dare run windows 7 with the massive amount of multitasking I do every day on a K7 but then a K7 would make a nice little Linux file server or firewall so no it's about it's application and usefulness.
Drumsk8
3 / 5 (2) Nov 03, 2011
Remember the Intel roadmap predictions back at the turn of the century, they estimated that we'd have 10GHz processors in 2011, well my i7 Sandy tops out at 4.9 with water cooling, in fact not many people have there's running past 5.2 max! Processors have become more efficient due to the limiting factors of TDP, bus clocks and variety of other factors (take your pick) improved extensions have a dramatic effect on a processors efficiency to compute AVX now MMX in 96 wow the times fly.

If I was to manage to cluster 10,000 spectrums together in a HPC I still wouldn't be able to run ChromeOS the cpu is only supported by the rest of the system and it's also that which makes a K7 anything but a supercomputer now. Hell even my phone spots 10 times the processing power of a K7
Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 04, 2011
"Vendicar If we didn't need more processing power and extra extensions then why would we need to upgrade as OS's and applications get heaver?" -- Drumsk8

You don't. I know people who are still running XP and even 2000.

Modern PC designs are spectacular overkill for most people and that is why CPU performance has more ore less become irrelevant to most people.

Even the slowest PC's are good enough to run the apps that most people use.

Games and video decompression can be an exception depending on what games are bring run and the compute capability of the video chips being used.

Back in the late 80's I projected that CPU clock speeds would stagnate between 1 and 2 Ghz. At the time peons were claiming that clock rates would climb into the hundreds of GHz and beyond. Current clock speeds - without water cooling - top out at around 3.5 Ghz, with most new CPU's being slightly under that.

This situation will not change significantly until silicon is replaced by other materials.

zweistein_2
5 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2011
Tegra chips are sold by Nvidia and not AMD.
AMD is lacking a lowpower offering. Probably is not trivial for them to do it. Android tablets all have ARM cores and AMD really needs to carve into this market if they want relevance. Now getting rid of 1400 engineers amasses to euthanasia. CEOs have this savior attitude that hurts everybody. This AMD CEO sounds like a tyrant to me and should be eliminated too.
knikiy
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
ARM should buy AMD and put Intel out of business.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
they estimated that we'd have 10GHz processors in 2011, well my i7 Sandy tops out at 4.9 with water cooling

I wouldn't dare run windows 7 with the massive amount of multitasking I do every day


Well, then it's a god thing they're going for multi core rather than for higher GHz values, isn't it? I would suspect that for multitaking multi core architecture is much better than single core/high speed types.

Now getting rid of 1400 engineers amasses to euthanasia.

I'm not sure that these 1400 are all (or even for the most part) engineers (we really should change that term...engineering has precious little with 'engines' to do these days).
But such layoffs will certainly spark the best of them to start looking for alternatives and kill morale for the rest.
Drumsk8
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
OMG how did I make the massive fopar of thinking Tegra was AMD, my grave mistake! Mind you it was past 2am I was posting. I must have been thinking of there Atom equiverlent.

Vendicar - yes there are lots of people still runnning XP infact I know of some poor people that wont upgrade there windows 98SE computer, the point I was making was about current work flows, and I am a massively computing intensive user, And since I spend over 14hours a day attached to one, I upgrade my system about every 3 years to take advantage of what is the best tech for price by watching the market.

Antialias - Yes multicore is helpful with multitasking, but only to a point, OS's apart from Solaris aren't TRUE multicore systems and only ultilize the extra cores in a fashion. If i was to have 20 cores but all at 600mhz I wouldn't be very efficent in my work since most applications are still single treaded, so the ultimate speed genereation of extensions generally outweighs the benafits of multiple cores
Drumsk8
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
That said since I run Virtual Machines for different task's and reasons, lots of fast ram and extra cores defiantly make a difference. Image rendering takes advantage but then PhotoShop CS5 also now uses my CUDA cores from the GFx card so that's alot more power to assist the multicore setup. So does some video encoding software use CUDA. This is one of the reasons we have GPCPU chips now, since they are useful for quicker code execution in certain tasks, or if you don't / can't have a dedicated GFx card.
Drumsk8
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Both Intel and AMD need to crack the ARM segment of the market, and Intel has recently stated that they know this and are working on something. As for AMD they need to fix their CPU brand more, there thinking is lets build the best multitasking processor, but as I said this is actually a relatively small market because 80% of computing is single threaded still. Programmers still write sequential code, and the tools to make parallel code still aren't mature enough for everyday programmers. This is why Bulldozer is losing the battle against the iCore's Intel correctly recognized it needed to be powerful in as many area's as possible, and it's here it leaves AMD and it's future desktop users wishing for more.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
OS's apart from Solaris aren't TRUE multicore systems and only ultilize the extra cores in a fashion.

Agreed, but I expect that will change in the not too distant future. Many intensive programming task - be they video editing or gaming or simulation can be reprogrammed to make use of multi core architecture.

Example (not multi core but multi pipe - but I think it demonstrates the point): The software we're building needs to have a certain proprietary filter for CT datasets (800MB per image). We tried timing the filter using a system with quadcore 3GHz processors and a Radeon high end card with 8 pixel pipes IIRC.
- the old library from the last system (single core, single thread implementation): Delphi, runtime 3.5 hours
- using OpenCL on CPU: 600 seconds
- using OpenCL on GPU: 25 seconds

With cloud computing all the rage I'd estimate that parallel processing applications for most anything will rapidly increase in number. Only getting more GHz would not have helped muzh
Drumsk8
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Also just a note, you can actually air cool a current gen cpu upto 4.5 - 4.9GHz if you have a very good aftermarket cooler. and correct air flow in the case. Water cooling is only open to people now that cheap closed systems have flooded the market, and then these aren't as good as full dedicated setups, mind you it's the price vs performance, and is the reason I brought a closed system type.
Drumsk8
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Antialias I agree with you all but the 8pipes!? o.O I remember unlocking my 6800NU into an LE by going from 8 => 12 out of the possible 16 pipes, plus 2 extra vertex shaders we're unlocked.
Chips are now designed for virtualization, and this is one of the reasons cloud works.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Could have been 16 (or more?). I'm not certain since this was about a year ago and the test was not performed by me. What stuck were the runtimes which really drove it home to me that good parallel computing is way more efficient than serial computing and hoping for a faster processor. And there are really only a very few, specialist applications I can think of which are that CPU/memory intensive and absolutely require sequential handling all the way.
Drumsk8
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
Antialias - I don't know how many pipes a new card has I sort of gave up caring a few years back to be honest. Yes parallel programming is certainly the way forward for efficiency I just wish more tools where at hand for the programmers. At least we know the direction it's going, and some major companies are now doing it.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
I think your wish will be granted. It was pretty much a chicken and egg problem: Why should software companies program for multiple cores when many users don't have them? On the other hand: Why should hardware companies manufacture multiple cores if there's no software that uses them?

I believe the heat problem actually broke that Gordian knot: The hand of hardware manufacturers was forced to occasionally bring new chips to market and they just could only go multi-core if they wanted to boast higher FLOP numbers.

That, and servers - which mostly do run some UNIX derivative - actually had a use for multi core from the start.

Now that you almost can't buy a single core machine anymore software will be restructured to use it (or at the very least OSs will make better use of them)
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 04, 2011
More unemployment great...

AMD shares increased 5 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $5.78 in extended trading Thursday after the cuts were announced.


Yet again proof of shareholder pressure of laying of jobs.

What the hell is going on.


What is going on would be normal business operations. Maximization of shareholder wealth is the SOLE reason a public corporation exists. So, of course shareholder pressures are involved.

And do you think that the share price for any given day is somehow relevant to....anything?
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2011
"ARM should buy AMD and put Intel out of business." - Hmmm

An interesting proposition, but I doubt if ARM is big enough... Yet.