At AMD’s (NASDAQ: AMD) financial analyst day in New York Wednesday, the company’s CEO announced that it was pivoting back to high-end computing with its Zen platform and abandoning its ambitious Project Skylake.
During Lisa Su’s speech at the analyst day she said that AMD would be abandoning the low-end entirely and would not be making investments in the growing Internet of Things sector. Partially this is because of a lack of reported demand from customers, and also because of Intel’s practices of massive subsidies for its hardware in the sector. Su again said on stage that AMD will not be in the smartphone, tablet, or microcontroller markets at all, something the company has said previously. By focusing on the high-end with Zen, AMD can push in a field it traditionally has experience — and sometimes leadership — in.
Su said that pushing hard into the high-end PC market with Zen would allow the company to return to profitability in the second-half of 2015. Although the confirmed technical details on Zen are sparse, the only solid information comes from leaks, it will be built on 3D FinFET gates and be able to push out 40% more instructions per core than the forthcoming Excavator cores that will be available soon.
Su also said that AMD is planning to double down its efforts in the professional GPU market. In 2013 AMD achieved quite the coup over Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) by getting its GPUs into the Mac Pro. As the Mac Pro is the workstation of choice for professional graphics and media production, this meant that virtually every media production software suite had to be optimized for AMD and not Nvidia.
As far as the Data Center goes, AMD admits that it would like to re-enter this business in a meaningful way but it will take some time to rebuild this division. AMD says that it expects to see meaningful gains in this business by 2017-2018.
“The new workloads, the new applications, the new scale of deployments mean it’s never been more important to have different points of optimization and different types of systems,” Forrest Norrod, senior VP and GM of AMD’s Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Business Group said on stage Wednesday.
Even though AMD has abandoned its microserver business, it still sees a future in ARM servers. Norrod pointed out that AMD is the only company in the ARM server game at this time.
AMD has a lot riding on these initiatives. For the last few quarters the company has struggled with profitability and containing losses. Hopefully the plans outlined by Su can turn the company around.