AMD pushing forwards in 2018

Rob Horgan talks to Neil Spicer, EMEA component channel sales director at AMD, about the company's projections for the year ahead
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Neil Spicer

Neil Spicer

What did AMD do differently in 2017 that it didn’t do previously?

Over the past three years, we completely re-shaped AMD’s product portfolio and technology competitiveness by introducing three fundamentally new architectures in client PCs, high-end graphics, and the very important data centre market. Most importantly, we are just at the beginning of this product cycle with multiple new customers and platforms and anticipating more to come in 2018.

What new products have been particularly successful over the past 12 months?

Our Ryzen family of processors have been incredibly popular with consumers. We have made considerable progress in the enthusiasts market with a very strong value proposition particularly for gamers and prosumers. For the first time in years, AMD reached a 40 to 50 per cent desktop market share at strategic e-tailers worldwide.

To what extent has the success of the Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper component ranges contributed to AMD’s revival?

Last year was a year of all-new product launches. It was an incredibly ambitious year with over 10 different product families launched resulting in very strong revenue growth and a return to profitability in the third quarter. We introduced two completely new high-performance chip architectures – Zen, our computing core, and Vega, our graphics core – that absolutely changed our level of competitiveness in the markets we are focused on.

We have shipped millions of Ryzen processors in the last few quarters and we saw great acceptance of Ryzen processors in the EMEA region among gamers and enthusiasts. Ryzen Threadripper is doing extremely well and growing our share in the highest-end portion of the enthusiast market where we have not had an offering in recent years.

How important is the data centre market to AMD?

We see tremendous new opportunities with our data centre business on both the CPU and GPU side, and the differentiation of AMD as the only company who can currently deliver both, so we are continuing to invest in the roadmap and we are working hard on the next-generation products to accelerate the pace of our innovation. Unlike parts of the consumer desktop market that can take off quickly, server growth builds a bit slower. If you look at the consumer enthusiast market where we launched Ryzen early in 2017, our progress is like a plane taking off. The server market is more like a large, heavily loaded freight train leaving the station. It takes a while for the train to accelerate to top speed, but once you are there is significant momentum.

The value proposition of our EPYC processors is very strong and we believe it will only get stronger over time as we get more applications tuned to EPYC. This is not a price play, but it really is a performance and flexibility play for our customers. In November, HP Enterprise announced the DL385, which is the highest volume platform in the server market, with EPYC which will be available for shipments in December. We’ve also announced that both Microsoft Azure and Baidu have deployed AMD EPYC in their data centers.

How does AMD split its focus between desktop PCs and laptops?

Both markets have specific requirements so they need specific products. In desktops we focused on bring high performing Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and Ryzen Threadripper processors to market to address the needs of gamers, content developers and enthusiasts. On the laptop side of things, we recently launched our Ryzen Mobile processors which combine our CPU and GPU technology in a single design. This provides the performance and power efficiency needed for us to play more significantly across premium consumer and higher-end commercial notebooks for the first time in a long time. The first Ryzen Mobile notebook from HP went on sale in the UK, and Acer and Lenovo have also launched systems. You should expect to see a number of systems in the first half of 2018 in both notebook and desktops featuring our Ryzen family of processors. The addition of the integrated graphics brings our high-performance Zen-based offerings to a larger part of the market than CPU-only Ryzen desktop processors.

What is in store for 2018?

As much progress as we have made over the past three years, we really believe we are only at the beginning. Our 2017 product momentum has been strong but we have not yet seen the full impact of those products in the market. We believe the market is actually moving towards the high-performance technologies we are developing at AMD. There is a clear demand, and a growing need, for higher levels of computing and graphics performance to power workloads across multiple industries.

We see the world’s toughest applications, whether in high performance computing or machine learning or artificial intelligence, all require a mixture of CPUs, GPUs and other accelerator technologies whether they are integrated on a chip or integrated into a multi-chip module or integrated into a system solution. AMD is uniquely able to bring these mixed technologies together and we are collaborating intensely with customers to make these solutions a reality. For this reason, we believe we are only at the beginning of the AMD story. As much fun as the last three years have been, it’s an incredibly exciting time for us and we are really looking forward to what we can deliver over the next three years and beyond.

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