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AMD Businesses Technology

AMD Hires Bank To Explore Sale Options 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-gets-what's-left-of-ATI dept.
Dainsanefh tips this report from Reuters: "Advanced Micro Devices has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co to explore options, which could include a potential sale, as the chipmaker struggles to find a role in an industry increasingly focused on mobile and away from traditional PCs, according to three sources familiar with the situation. ... Some investors believe part or all of AMD could be bought by a technology company that might want to emulate Apple Inc's tight control of software and components, a strategy credited in part for the success of the iPad and iPhone. Microsoft Corp, Google Inc, Samsung Electronics, Intel Corp and even Facebook Inc have been suggested by Wall Street analysts as potential suitors that could benefit from some of AMD's chip business, including its graphics division, PC processors and server chips. Others say AMD's most valuable asset may be its deep bench of engineers or its patents." Update: 11/14 01:44 GMT by S : In an emailed statement, an AMD representative said the company "is not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time."
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AMD Hires Bank To Explore Sale Options

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  • by Alworx (885008) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:09PM (#41974209) Homepage

    Oracle? So they can make some sense out of Niagara...
    Sony? So they can make another poor decision... :-D

  • At Least (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They hired the most mercenary company they could find in order to salvage what is left of their shareholder's wealth. I'm sure they've already parted with whatevery IP allowed them to compete to date. I wonder what J Pee Morgan will be able to find in this pile of smoking rubble...

    Their real estate and facilities must be worth something. Too bad they don't own clear title to their employees. Chatel used to sell well, back in the day.

    • Their facilities worth a *CRAPLOAD* of money. The problem is that they also owe crapload of money.
  • Samsung (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They're the only likely candidate. Regulators would shit all over the idea of Intel buying AMD, even if they had a good reason to do it. nVidia might be interested, but again regulators would probably demand they'd divest themselves of the old ATi portion of the business. Facebook and Google? Don't see why'd they'd be interested. Dell or HP might have a sniff, but most of their business has always been built around high end Intel processors. Samsung are the only ones who make much sense, out of the list of
    • by CaptSlaq (1491233)
      APPL could conceivably give Samsung the middle finger by purchasing AMD. At least in part.
    • There's also the Chinese.

      China's Loongsoon CPU (funded by the state run Chinese Academy of Sciences) is currently nowhere near the performance level of AMDs offerings. They clearly want x86, the newest Loongsoon3 includes some hardware x86 emulation, they just need better performance.

      The Chinese Academy of Sciences tends to fund buyouts of tech companies if it's in their national interest. They had a hand in the buyout of IBMs laptop division, they helped buy out defense research company Magnequench, and t

  • They want their own CPU and intel wont give the flexibility they want. Apple would gain their own GPU to tinker plus with bulldozer (or whatever they call it now) can have a nice APU for thei MBAs or IPADS with the x86 port replaced with an ARM.

    Of course that would suck for us as I am typing this on an all AMD/ATI phenomII from Asus. But good for Asus investors since it looks like they wont survive this new recession that is starting.

  • Somewhere between Arduino, Raspberry Pi and the $279 HP PC I use for a media server, there's a fertile market.

    People need small machines to use for everyday tasks, from automating other machines, to serving data, to experimental purposes in a lab.

    Make yourself a custom chip-set, AMD, and install your own flavor of Linux on it.

    Truly bring (computing) power to the people.

    • They have their own chipsets, and every time Ive used one Ive regretted it. Im about to make another attempt in a week or so, but I have a feeling its going to come back to bite me.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Dude buy one of the E350 units, they are cheap, low power, and a hell of a lot nicer than the Atom. i have built several of these for use as office units and they are happy as clams, its completely silent. it makes a hell of a low power file server or HTPC as well, hell i'm even quite happy with the Asus EEE E350 i replaced my full size with, so much lighter while playing 1080p over HDMI when I'm visiting friends.

        Check out something like this model for $120 [amazon.com] just add RAM (up to 8Gb) and any drives you like

    • Newegg sells "book PCs". Most of them geared to thin HTPC market. Thesebare fairly capable machines and can get one without RAM or HDD for ~$150-$200.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:23PM (#41974435)

    That's worth something only if employees are bound serf-like to AMD, as opposed to being able to move to a different company if they don't like the new owner.

    Similar post-sale exoduses happened when DEC sold itself off chunk by chunk.

  • ...AMD's most valuable asset may be its deep bench of engineers or its patents

    Engineers profoundly hate to be sold along, as if they were pieces of equipment, with the company they work for. Moreover and ipso facto, it is nigh impossible to sell what engineers have in their heads: resourcefulness, the capacity to come up with ever-new ideas.

    Patents ? Mebbe. Valuable for patent trolls, yes. Valuable for Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, Oracle ? Doubt it.

    • Well, maybe. Think about the following scenario. Let us say you are a chip design firm that wants to get into server chips – we will call it ARM. You have 2 choices.

      The first is to build your team up from scratch. Search the world over, recruit the engineers, move them to your headquarters (or wherever.). Hopefully you get the right mixture of people.

      Or you could buy AMD. They already have design teams set up. Sure, you may lose 10% in a well-executed buy out – but that will leave enough core pe

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        I'm afraid the problem Alexander is that all the talented engineers were given the pink slip [insideris.com] by the previous CEO who did a classic "slash and burn" on the company, so all you'd be getting is a shell NOT the teams. The Athlon64 guys? GONE. Phenom guys? GONE, Bobcat? GONE, he fired ALL the real top talent for computer layouts which is why the performance on Bulldozer was worse than Thuban, Thuban was the last chip laid out by hand while BD was computer designed.
    • Engineers profoundly hate to be sold along, as if they were pieces of equipment, with the company they work for.

      i really doubt anyone cares about "being sold". companies get bought. these things happen. what matters is if they like the new position / compensation.

  • ... I thought these people were supposed ot be experts in thier fields and stuff. I think even the most casual observer saw the market interest changing. Personal computing is evolving. They should have been evolving along with it. And what's intel doing? They remain quite relevant... not so much on the mobile end I guess... their Atom processor ain't quite it you know?

    Still, for home appliances, Atom is pretty good stuff.

    • Atom is getting there for mobile. It's always been higher performance than ARM, just a power hog. But they're rather rapidly catching up in power consumption, and still winning in performance. I expect Atom to overtake ARM for performance/watt within the next few years.
    • They should have been evolving along with it. And what's intel doing? They remain quite relevant... not so much on the mobile end I guess... their Atom processor ain't quite it you know?

      ever heard of medfield? it's already shipping in phones, and by most accounts meets or beats performance and efficiency of ARM chips.

      on the other hand, heard anything about ARM's desktop / laptop / server chips? even a prototype?

  • This statement is either false, or "analysts" are even dumber than I expected.

    • It's probably the time to mention that the qualification to be a 'Wall St Analyst' is to be standing on Wall Street and wildly waving one's arms like they're in the background of the Today show.

      The fact that no specific analyst is being mentioned implies they couldn't even find that.

  • IBM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:29PM (#41974527)

    IBM, so they can definitely revenge themselves for their humiliation at the hands of Wintel.

  • Intel Corp ... suggested by Wall Street analysts as potential suitors

    I realize it says "Wall Street analysts", but what utter moron even among that crowd of utter morons could possibly think having effectively all desktop CPU production controlled by a single company would be a good idea?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Intel Corp ... suggested by Wall Street analysts as potential suitors

      I realize it says "Wall Street analysts", but what utter moron even among that crowd of utter morons could possibly think having effectively all desktop CPU production controlled by a single company would be a good idea?

      I'm sure Intel would also decline the offer, even if AMD paid them and charged everyone else. Only because Intel knows they got in trouble for having monopoly power before, that acquiring AMD would be equally stupid and tha

      • Monopolies are not illegal (though they are frowned upon) abuse of monopolies is illegal they could buy it assuming that the federal trade commission approved it, they could own the PC market as long as they kept the price point low they would still make more money than they are now as long as they realize getting to greedy would bring to DOJ and FTC down on their as as well as push PC manufactures to look to ARM MIPS and PowerPC again.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:34PM (#41974607)
    If only Valve/Gabe Newell had enough capital to buy AMD.
    • Given AMD's crashing stock price, that might actually be feasible.

      • by slew (2918)

        Of course if you buy the company, you also buy the debt. AMD currently has $2B in debt, $1.5B in liabilities (e.g., accounts payable) with only $1.3B in cash in the bank.

        Of course AMD also has operating cash flows (e.g., receivables ~$700M) other misc assets (e.g, goodwill~$700M, inventory~$750M, property~$700M, etc~$500M), totaling about $3.3B, but many of these other things are only fully valued if you keep everything running as they are today (e.g., goodwill generally resets to zero and inventory is pen

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:36PM (#41974637)

    "Microsoft Corp, Google Inc, Samsung Electronics, Intel Corp and even Facebook Inc have been suggested by Wall Street analysts as potential suitors"

    Intel would never buy AMD. Face it - right now, Intel is *winning* in the market, pretty much legitimately (not 100%, and they used to cheat like mad, but right now they're winning more-or-less fairly). But they need a competitor to avoid a massive antitrust investigation. They need AMD as an enemy more than they need it as an asset.

    Facebook would not, and could not, buy AMD. They may be riding high on the Web 2.0 Bubble, but they're an absolutely terrible match. Facebook's made it a point of using off-the-shelf hardware and open-source solutions. They have very little experience with hardware (besides setting up networks and racks), and gain nothing from producing their own hardware.

    Google doesn't need them. They're doing fine running on commodity servers for their web stuff, and trying to produce their own mobile chips would anger their hardware partners for Android. It might give them a slight edge in the long run, but the short-term harm seems to outweigh that.

    Microsoft *might* work. They need some special edge in the tablet war they just jumped into, and AMD is a good match with their successful Xbox line. But AMD isn't known to be particularly good at low-power chips. Perhaps they just haven't tried yet, or some older design could be successfully adapted into tablets (a single/dual-core, low-power K8 paired with a good Radeon design might be a good A6 competitor, especially if Microsoft tries to bill itself both as an 'enterprise' tablet *and* a 'gaming' tablet). But really, although it makes sense for Microsoft to buy some hardware company, AMD isn't the best choice. NVidia might make a better one, but I don't think they're looking to sell out right now.

    Samsung might buy parts of the company, but they wouldn't want the whole thing. I imagine they would love the graphics section, maybe some of the CPU engineers, but I doubt they want to enter the full-on CPU market.

    You know who might make more sense? Cray, or maybe IBM. AMD stuff is popular for supercomputers, both their Opterons and their FireStream/FirePro cards. IBM isn't too likely (they have enough good hardware people already), but Cray or one of their competitors seems at least more plausible than any of the other suggestions.

    Another idea is some gaming company. AMD has a somewhat-competitive graphics division, and a compute side that could handle gaming loads well with some tweaks. Sony is really the most likely - they've *never* been good at the hardware side, only lucking into success with the PS1 and PS2 after some clever business decisions. But I also doubt Sony is smart enough to try to do that, especially since buying AMD might hurt their (Intel-focused) laptop business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Microsoft Corp, Google Inc, Samsung Electronics, Intel Corp and even Facebook Inc have been suggested by Wall Street analysts as potential suitors"

      Intel would never buy AMD. Face it - right now, Intel is *winning* in the market, pretty much legitimately (not 100%, and they used to cheat like mad, but right now they're winning more-or-less fairly). But they need a competitor to avoid a massive antitrust investigation. They need AMD as an enemy more than they need it as an asset.

      I can see Intel tossing a few hundred million at AMD to keep them alive as a competitor, much the way Microsoft did to Apple back in the mid-90s.

    • by tukang (1209392)

      But they need a competitor to avoid a massive antitrust investigation.They need AMD as an enemy more than they need it as an asset.

      With Qualcomm recently surpassing Intel as the most valuable chip maker by market cap and Apple announcing that they're considering moving their macs to ARM, I would argue that Intel no longer needs to allow AMD to survive like they used to.

    • by mozumder (178398)

      Another idea is some gaming company. AMD has a somewhat-competitive graphics division, and a compute side that could handle gaming loads well with some tweaks. Sony is really the most likely - they've *never* been good at the hardware side, only lucking into success with the PS1 and PS2 after some clever business decisions. But I also doubt Sony is smart enough to try to do that, especially since buying AMD might hurt their (Intel-focused) laptop business.

      Sony did end up buying Minolta for their camera busi

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Blizzard/Activision/EA could buy AMD though, make their own consoles.

        Not really likely. If you want to break into the console market, you want to buy makers of prebuilt computers, operating systems, input peripherals. You can easily make a console using someone else's chips (I don't think anyone's made one off their own chip design, actually). In-housing the parts is a move an established console maker would do to gain an edge, not something a first-timer would do.

    • by ogdenk (712300)

      Could be Apple's chance to bastardize the hell out of x86 and the PASemi guys could probably help out a bit on the power efficiency side of things. Apple also has oodles of cash in the bank.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Google doesn't need them. They're doing fine running on commodity servers for their web stuff,

      Where do you think the processors in those "commodity servers" come from? Intel only keep their chips at reasonable prices because they have AMD to keep them honest.

      Plus, Google has so many damn servers, and a completely custom, in-house workflow, that they'll spend millions and millions for a percent efficiency improvement here and there... Being able to steer a chip-maker towards more cores, higher IPC, better

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Not to mention there has been some bad blood between Intel and Big Blue going back 35+ years, back when Intel refused to sell them the right to second source the 386 like they did the 286, which is why IBM hung onto the 286 so long and ended up with the cloners eating their lunch.

        IBM has always liked top to bottom solutions, this would give them their own X86 line to steer towards better server performance and as others have pointed out AMD does have plenty of loyal customers so they could sell chips and G

  • by robmv (855035)

    I only see Google buying them, or at least the ATI division, only if they want to do something like they did with WebM/VP8, push for open GPUs. can I dream right?

    • I'm calling it. Google buys them, and merges them with Motorola mobility in six months four days. Half the combined company is laid off, and the new company makes the must have next generation devices we techies crave like crack. Seriously, May 17th 2013 will be the day they announce. In future analysis, we'll learn that Google did it for the sexy graphics chips.
  • by corychristison (951993) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:40PM (#41974693)

    Hire back Linux Kernel Devs and focus on servers.

    The fact is that AMD's Opterons are very competitive perfomance and feature wise vs Intel Xeons. The price puts them over the top, though.

    You can build 64 core, 1U servers for ~$5000 with moderate DDR3 ECC RAM and HDDs (you'd probably want a SAN though). Fully maxed out still less than $10K.

    I respect AMDs cheap desktop and mobile lines but Intel is a juggernaught in this space. They have better contracts with more manufacturers.

  • That was my favorite processor ever. I upgraded from a pentium 4 to the X2 series "actually the opteron 170 I think." It provided a dramatic improvement in performance over the single core P4, and trounced Intel's Pentium D.

    Then Intel came out with the Core series, the Core2 providing a dramatic improvement over the X2's.

    AMD responded with Barcelona, and it was all down hill from there. I promptly bought a Core2 based system and have been using Intel again ever since, AMD never became truly compet
    • by router (28432)

      I love that AMD makes current gen processors that fit in previous gen mb, so I can do a cheap mid-life upgrade. Athlon X2 to Phenom 2 X4 (945) chip; AM2 mb. Awesome! Cheap. It will be a sad day if AMD goes away, left with only Intel expensive for homebuilds.... Only AMD has made sense for me, pretty much every time I was building a machine. Their cost-performance was the best for complete machine builds, not withstanding the cheap mid life upgrade bonus above.

      andy

  • by thedarknite (1031380) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:01PM (#41974941) Homepage
    The article text actually says that they are not pursuing a sale strategy but they need to fix their profitability. AMD is the GPU supplier for the Wii U, and early development boxes for the new xbox and playstation are running AMD chipsets. So AMD should just need to stay afloat until all the next gen consoles are released to return to being profitable.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Except when you say 'AMD', you really mean 'ATI'. High GPU profits won't much help if the CPU side keeps burning money.

      • The Wii U is using GPUs only, the leaked details of the XBox and Playstation dev boxes have them using AMD for both CPU and GPU.

        Also wasn't there an article a few weeks ago that AMD was looking to sell ARM based servers.

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