''AMD sacrificed gaming business to make Zen a success''

Posted on Wednesday, June 13 2018 @ 15:24 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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A new story appeared that sheds some light on AMD's internal kitchen. As always, it's hard to verify how accurate these stories are, but it's definitely an interesting read. Basically, WCCF Tech heard from its sources that due to AMD's difficult financial position, CEO Lisa Su had to make some though calls. The decisions she made put the company back on track towards a healthier financial future, but some sacrifices had to be made.

She decided to focus the company primarily on bringing back the CPU side of things, by dedicating a lot of resources to Zen, and to establish a strong semi-custom GPU unit. While semi-custom parts have low margins, Su saw value in this because of the high volumes and the consistent net income.

However, the downside is this resulted in gamers getting neglected. WCCF Tech says Su basically tied the Radeon Technologies Group roadmap to large customers. Vega was designed for Apple, while Navi is being developed for Sony's PlayStation 5. The site point out 2/3rds of the Radeon Technologies Group is working on the next semi-custom solution, leaving just 1/3rd of the engineering talent for the next gaming graphics card, and with as good as no control over the budget.

This reportedly resulted in a lot of internal disputes, and may be one of the key reasons behind the departure of Raja Koduri, the former head of RTG, as well as other key executives:
This meant that the graphics department had to be tied directly to the roadmap that these semi-custom applications followed. Since Sony needed the Navi GPU to be ready by the time the PS5 would launch (expectedly around 2020) that is the deadline they needed to work on. Similarly, for Vega, Apple’s timeline is what actually dictated the release of the GPU and not the other way around. AMD’s Radeon graphics cards were intricately tied to the industry’s semi-custom roadmaps by design and that is something that a lot of people disagreed with.
Here's a small overview of what to expect in the near future. Basically, it looks like NVIDIA has the high-end market for itself for at least the next two to three years:
  • There's no 7nm Vega for gamers (nothing new)

  • The 7nm Navi 10 is expected in 2H 2019 or early 2020. Vega-like performance at a lower cost.

  • Navi 10 will be succeeded by Navi 14 .

  • Navi 20 is the next high-end GPU, expected in 2020-2021.

  • Navi is based on a post-GCN architecture

  • "Next-Gen" architecture is based on same architecture as Navi

  • About the Author

    Thomas De Maesschalck

    Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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