Tech corner: #Bulldozerfail

Life’s got this funny way of teaching you lessons at times when you think it’s not appropriate. It wrenches you out of your comfort zone and tries to give you an alternate view of the situation you’re in. Oftentimes people will ignore the message they’re being given, while others sit up and take notice of what’s being handed to them.

I had that this month. With the realization that I’m no longer in love with my job and my general work performance suffering thusly, I finally came to a conclusion, an ultimatum: get out and find other ways to do the things I love, or risk falling into a pit of pity and self-loathing with the silly idea that I’m a general failure in things life-related. Luckily, life came to teach me that lesson I so desperately needed; that the things I love doing should come first, and that sacrificing my happiness for the benefit of others would lead nowhere. I’d just keep going around in circles, trying to please everyone while forgetting the things that are most important to me. I finally had that turn-around last week: I quit my job, and made plans to move back to my hometown to re-assess things, my life in general, and how I wanted to do the things I love.

In essence, I went back to square one. And that’s what AMD needs as well.

Let's play Spot the Metaphor!

No matter how you look at it, it seems that AMD has lost sight of that era when they were golden: the Athlon series, victorious in every respect to Intel’s best efforts and engineering minds. That AMD was a company confident of its abilities, proud of its efforts and cocky enough to take on anyone who dared challenge it. The company did so well with the Athlon series that it forced Intel to play its hand and forced both Dell and HP to enter into an agreement to sell its Netburst-based chips – all in an effort to avoid going under during a time when AMD’s chip sales were going throught the roof

The Athlon seems to have been a fluke when looking back at things and comparing it to the situation today, a mistake etched in silicon. We’ve come to expect much of any Silicon Valley company, and very few are still around that stay true to their ethos. We’ve seen the giant that is Hewlett-Packard fail without the hands of its original founders at the wheel;  the amazing success of Apple with the return of Steve Jobs re-installing values that the company holds dear today that earned its success, and the astounding products coming out of Intel’s labs. In comparison, AMD succeeded with the Athlon where it mattered but fell far behind without a strong showing in the mainstream and performance segments. It has remedide this, but their latest product release doesn’t do enough to fix this.

Mandatory techy chart thing.

Bulldozer is a failure at certain things, this I know. How AMD could gotten this wrong is beyond me, given they had everything to work with. Single-threaded performance is down, it’s slower on the whole than its predecessor, and there just aren’t enough multi-threaded apps to take advantage of the Bulldozer modules and their scaling ability. AMD has gone into this chip generation clearly looking to the future, but not paying any attention to the situation it’s in now.

Bulldozer was AMD’s chance to reinvent itself, go back to its roots and stop pleasing everyone in everything they possibly can. Naturally one shouldn’t try to go about pissing your customers off by ignoring their needs completely, but a bit of common sense should have prevailed here. AMD should have concentrated on single-threaded performance, performance-per-clock, efficiency and speed in multi-threaded apps. Its a common folly of many review sites out there to refer to their new FX-8150 as an octo-core – it’s actually a quad-core with their own version of Hyper-Threading, essentially. AMD’s stronghold has always been multi-threaded performance, and in this respect Bulldozer cannot be faulted – it hands out there with the best of them.

But it still didn’t win over reviewers, and didn’t help AMD’s public image as a competitor to Intel. While I believe Bulldozer is a good step forward, its a step taken far too late – this should have been attempted years ago, not now. But the fact is AMD tried to please too many people that the company lost sight of its objective – that you provide value-for-money products and performance unmatched in a price range where traditionally you would have paid top dollar for. Bulldozer doesn’t give you the performance you need right now, and you should have rather concentrated on improving and dropping the price on Phenom II and your fusion APUs and run Bulldozer concurrently to all your projects on the AM3+ platform.

You’ve abandoned your namesakes, you’ve changed CEOs to your own detriment, you’ve botched your own foundry spin-off. You’ve missed opportunities in the mobile sector where older technologies you held could have given you the upper hand. You’ve over-hyped your own products when you knew they would be failures, you’ve chosen to prioritise things only a few people consider valuable, and you’ve chosen to no longer look at Intel as a competitor. You’ve chosen to underperform, rather than go-all out for the best results in as many things as physically possible. I’m tired of making excuses for your lack of ambition, for want of a better word.

The Game. You’ve lost it. #Bulldozerfail. Go join RIM in the corner over there.

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