AMD moves away from Intel rivalry, rethinks course

CEO Rory Read is driving a shift to think beyond the AMD vs. Intel mindset, and will announce restructuring plans on Feb. 2

After years of going up against Intel and not faring so well, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is no longer going to focus on its long-standing rival.

While AMD says isn't giving up on the x86 market, it's not going to move forward with Intel in its sights.

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Analysts say it's about time that AMD breaks free from being seen as forever the bridesmaid.

"We're at an inflection point," AMD spokesman Michael Silverman said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News. "We will all need to let go of the old 'AMD versus Intel' mind-set, because it won't be about that anymore."

In an email to Computerworld, Silverman wrote that the company is rethinking its course.

"Any time a company is more focused on its competitor than what the market wants and needs, it is probably not in a good place for long-term growth" wrote Silverman. "Our CEO Rory Read is driving a shift internally to think beyond the typical and outdated AMD/Intel mindset.

"At the end of the day, we aren't focused on keeping pace with Intel, we are focused on keeping pace with consumers and the market," he said. "That is how we are going to win."

Silverman said AMD executives will offer information on restructuring plans during the company's scheduled Financial Analyst Day on Feb. 2. AMD first talked of restructuring early in November when it announced it was laying off 1,400 workers, or 10 percent of its workforce.

With Read now leading the company, it's no surprise that AMD is looking at changes in its focus, said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Inc.

"This smells like the company's new CEO understands that following the old line will more or less permanently lock AMD into an also-ran position against Intel," said King. "In the end, I believe it's evidence of the company hoping and trying to be break-out and be judged on its own terms."

He also noted that the company's competition with Intel has largely defined AMD -- something the company needs to change.

"In the desktop/laptop space, they've mostly been considered the lower priced spread to Intel's sweet creamery butter," said King. "At this point, the best way to change the game may be to shift the rules. It isn't the easiest path, but it's a reasonable strategy given the circumstances."

However, breaking free of that rivalry may be harder than just saying it's over.

"AMD and Intel are still rivals and will remain rivals, despite what AMD is saying right now," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "The difference is that AMD seems to be publicly bowing to the reality that AMD will likely never beat Intel in the traditional processor market."

And AMD isn't even really on Intel's radar these days, according to Jim McGregor, an analyst with In-Stat.

"Unfortunately, it really doesn't matter right now because Intel is focused on ARM," he added. "AMD really doesn't matter to Intel at this point in time."

McGregor, though, said AMD has long needed to focus on its own brand and destiny. "AMD is facing some serious challenges in manufacturing, product positioning and now organizational structure," he added. "So, this is going to be a challenging period for the company."

The biggest concern facing AMD could be ARM-fueled systems, something the company needs to handle head-on, according to Olds.

"They need to look at ways to combine their assets, like CPUs and graphics technology, to address markets that range from tablets to enterprise servers," he added. "They also need to think outside the box and not be tied to the past. They should be exploring ARM chips and looking for ways where they can couple low-power, low-cost chips with their graphics processors to build better consumer and enterprise computing platforms."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about processors in Computerworld's Processors Topic Center.

This story, "AMD moves away from Intel rivalry, rethinks course" was originally published by Computerworld.

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