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A New AMD Licensing Deal Could Create More x86 Rivals For Intel (pcworld.com) 110

angry tapir quotes a report from PCWorld: AMD has announced a plan to license the design of its top-of-the-line server processor to a newly formed Chinese company, creating a brand-new rival for Intel. AMD is licensing its x86 processor and system-on-chip technology to a company called THATIC (Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd.), a joint venture between AMD and a consortium of public and private Chinese companies. AMD is providing all the technology needed for THATIC to make a server chip, including the CPUs, interconnects and controllers. THATIC will be able to make variants of the x86 chips for different types of servers. AMD is much smaller than Intel, and licensing offers it an easy way to expand the installed base of AMD technology. The resource-strapped company will also generate licensing revenue in the process, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
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A New AMD Licensing Deal Could Create More x86 Rivals For Intel

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  • ... that AMD would be licensing Zen to a company in the country where Zen (buddhism) was founded.

    • ...in the country where Zen...

      No, that would be Japan.

      ...(buddhism)...

      No, that would be India.

      • Buddhism originated in India, but Zen was founded in China (although Zen is the Japanese name for it), not Japan which didn't bring it over until several hundred years later, although there were other schools of Buddhism in Japan prior to the introduction and spread of Zen.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The resource-strapped company will also generate licensing revenue in the process... until it suddenly doesn't.

    • by serbanp ( 139486 )

      Yeah, AMD's leadership seems to be too stupid these days to learn anything from Qualcomm's plight...

      • Re: Theft (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ... or any of a hundred other companies. It's funny how after three years the Chinese company dissolves the joint venture, yet continues to make the same product. From chips, to cars (ask Chevrolet), to "Mig" Fighter Jets, I'm not sure I've ever heard of one of these JVs that actually worked out for the non-Chinese party. At this point, even though I don't like victim blaming, you deserve to get hosed when you supply the intellectual property into one of these deals.

        • Well, the positive is that this technology goes obsolete pretty quickly, though maybe a little slower in recent years than the previous 20
      • Or rather let the more competent companies like Qualcomm make money for them.

        Oddly though, anyone remember PowerPC and RISC from two decades ago? IBM let Motorola and others make chips and it left IBM to die on the micro computer market outside of the Nintendo WII

        • They ran into technical problems that prevented them from matching pace with Intel and when Apple made the switch, what incentive did they have to continue down that road?

          LK

          • by jmauro ( 32523 )

            It was less technical reasons and more that they were arguing with IBM over chip pricing/manufacturing quantities and Intel swooped in and made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

            • It was less technical reasons and more that they were arguing with IBM over chip pricing/manufacturing quantities and Intel swooped in and made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

              Steve Jobs did not want Apple to be held under pressure or hostage by anyone neither Microsoft nor IBM/Motorola. Apple for years had an x86 version of MacOS classic and naturally MacOSX as NextStep was native to both platforms from the gecko.

              Also Intel had better manufactoring which is how they are beating AMD as with lower NM sized chips and Intel made LWISC computers and risc inside later pentiums. Basically the x86 instructions get converted to RISC internally in a wrapper. So Intel could offer the same

        • by jmauro ( 32523 )

          The PowerPC\Power ISA merged when the POWER4 was released in 2001, so the intent was always for the PowerPC variant to die off at that point. If Apple continued down the PowerPC route instead of the switch to x86/x64 they'd likely be using one the POWER chips instead of a custom PowerPC.

          The resulting POWER ISA is still going strong and IBM currently licenses the design to a number of different companies including Tundra Semiconductor, HCL Enterprise, Culturecom, P.A. Semi, Sony, Honeywell, Toshiba and Cr

          • IBM did not bother creating a mobile chipset for the G5, which by the way was a cut down POWER4 variant and thus already some "big iron" hardware for the desktops. It could have gone on including in laptops, but such stuff costs billions and Unix workstations were dead, OS/2 and NT on PPC were dead. Meanwhile x86 are lowish power / high peformance and used on most laptops, desktops, servers not just mac pro and imac.
            Also IBM went to making 5GHz speed demons :)
            They'd have had to throw out that line of work,

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      Maybe that's the plan. Level the playing field by gutting Intel's high-end market.
    • AMD is simply monetising its Intellectual Property. It owes this to its shareholders because this generates revenues Today and dividends Tomorrow, and that's all that matters.

      Speculation on the possibility of deminishing returns in future cannot and should not drive this policy decision decision.

      Anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly applaud this decision on any but financial grounds (has AMD obtained a a good price for its licenses ?) has left the Path of True Capitalism. Be told.

  • by dilvish_the_damned ( 167205 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @09:46PM (#51961429) Journal

    Historically top of the line desktop processor tech is considered munitions and not exportable to places like China. What changed?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They probably contributed to Hillary's campaign fund.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Historically top of the line desktop processor tech is considered munitions and not exportable to places like China. What changed?

      It's an AMD processor.

      • Nimrod, their designs aren't the problem; it's their [outdated] process tech.
        • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @05:48AM (#51963017)
          Slashdot users dont know that. They used to, once upon a time...

          Slashdot now thinks that Intel is a cpu design company that also happens to make semiconductors, rather than a semiconductor company that also happens to design cpu's.

          Intels process was about 2 years ahead of everybody, but they couldn't keep it up.. the tick tock is over with and they are now laying off because they see the writing on the wall, which is that their process lead ends this year with almost no hope of getting it back and maybe they will even fall behind now.

          GloFlo and Toshiba have reached parity, and TSMC will be the new leader when their Fab 15 starts running off 10nm chips before Intel can.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Historically top of the line desktop processor tech is considered munitions and not exportable to places like China. What changed?

      US government living in the past?
      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2... [theregister.co.uk]
      "US govt bans Intel from selling chips to China's supercomputer boffins
      Xeon, Xeon Phi processors slapped on trade block list"

      Like: "AMD chips? Hah! Nah they can have those! It's not like they are competitive enough anyway!" - "What could possibly go wrong?!"

  • I didn't read the article, so maybe I'm missing something, but isn't x86 more or less obsolete? To my knowledge, servers abandoned it before PCs, and I haven't seen anything that was 32-bit sold in a store in ages.
    • Youre kidding. Its a huge server platform. Intel did drop the ball on mobile and should have been out on the market early on that one. But, somehow, they let it get away from them.

      • Intel did drop the ball on mobile and should have been out on the market early on that one. But, somehow, they let it get away from them.

        They forgot who they were competing with. ARM and AMD arent their competition. TSMC, GloFlo, Toshiba, etc are their competition.

        All of these companies will have equal (2) or better (1) fabs this year.

        (2) GloFlo and Toshiba are already running off 14nm chips.
        (1) TSMC opens up a 10nm fab this year.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I didn't read the article, so maybe I'm missing something, but isn't x86 more or less obsolete? To my knowledge, servers abandoned it before PCs, and I haven't seen anything that was 32-bit sold in a store in ages.

      Aren't you the clever one, intentionally misinterpreting the "x86" shorthand reference to Intel-derived processors to mean only the 32-bit incarnations of that same architecture rather than the contextually-obvious reference to the entire sprawling Intel x86 & AMD64 family, as opposed to, say,

    • by Anonymous Coward

      x86 does not mean 32 bit. 64 bit procs are still x86 architecture.

    • embedded - Arduino 101 is powered by an Intel Quark.

    • Often x86 is used to mean any processor with an ISA descended from the original 8086, including modern 64-bit CPUs. So they mean AMD is licensing their x86-64 (or x64 or AMD64, whichever way you like to put it) technology which is not as powerful as Intel's, but is still fully current in terms of ISA. They specifically mention AMD's "Zen" processor which is the new 64-bit architecture expected to release this year.

      • So they mean AMD is licensing their x86-64 (or x64 or AMD64, whichever way you like to put it) technology which is not as powerful as Intel's, but is still fully current in terms of ISA.

        Not sure where you're getting the idea that AMD's instruction set would be "not as powerful" considering they licensed their x86-64 tech to Intel in the first place.

        • Their tech is not as powerful, the actual chip. They aren't just licensing the ISA, they are licensing the chip design.

        • It's not the instruction set, it's the implementation. Intel gets better instructions-per-clock than AMD.
    • but isn't x86 more or less obsolete?

      Pretty much, which is why Apple's giving up on x86 and transitioning to the PowerPC architecture.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Giving away the secret sauce for few hundred million to a quasi state Chinese venture who will eventually rob you blind seems like a desperate gasp of a long has been trying to stay afloat.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @11:35PM (#51961935) Journal
    Seriously, that will be the end of AMD in no time flat.
    • LOL if announcing they have 1.5 BILLION in SoCs already called for in the game console market (which just FYI gives them a complete monopoly, as Sony,MSFT and Nintendo will ALL be running AMD APUs exclusively) along with a new deal that will most likely give them a big fat chunk of the growing Chinese server market, not to mention all the critics singing the praises of the new Fury GPUs...if THAT is "failing"? Can I have some of what you are smoking?

      Hell having a lock on the console market alone will pret

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        + Intel graphics license.
        + New power-efficient same process as Nvidia chip (same process before too but ..)
        + Depending on how you view it almost as small process as Intel for processors + hopefully a better price / performance at at least as good performance as the regular desktop range of Intel chips.
        (+ all the GameWorks hate online? + Pretty nice and competitive "open-source" Linux drivers.)

      • AMD has had a console monopoly for the past three or so years anyway (their chips power the current versions of the Wii, Xbox and Playstation), and I haven't exactly seen an uptick of games being optimised on the PC for AMD graphics hardware...

        So if AMD have had a full monopoly in the console arena for the past 3 years or so, and had most of the console arena for the previous generation as well (Xbox 360 and Wii - PS3 had an Nvidia chip), why are they still struggling today, when apparently the console mono

        • by PRMan ( 959735 )
          Because nVidia has spent millions making sure that the top PC titles MUST use their new, exclusive features. Just look at Arkham Knight on console vs PC to see what that looks like.
        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          AMD has had a console monopoly for the past three or so years anyway (their chips power the current versions of the Wii, Xbox and Playstation), and I haven't exactly seen an uptick of games being optimised on the PC for AMD graphics hardware...

          So if AMD have had a full monopoly in the console arena for the past 3 years or so, and had most of the console arena for the previous generation as well (Xbox 360 and Wii - PS3 had an Nvidia chip), why are they still struggling today, when apparently the console mono

        • There is a fair improvement on DirectX 12 games, alas tied to that Windows 10 crap but the story might be similar with Vulkan. Also perhaps works with some recent DX11 games and/or drivers.
          AMD GCN since the now old 7970 / 280X has had some good support for async computing which used to be just wasted silicon. Now they're partly catching up the nvidia GPUs, although still fairly more power hungry. Right now you could get a Radeon Nano (not too power hungry) with a 1080p 144Hz screen and that'd be about the b

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      AMD is dying anyway at least as far as x86 whether they help the Chinese or not. I thought their bid for heterogeneous processing would save them but apparently there is not enough market demand for such a thing.

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @11:59PM (#51962021)

    With Intel laying people off and vowing to concentrate on the server market, wouldn't AMD be better off going after what's left of the desktop market? It's shrinking to be sure, but I think there's still a lot of meat on those bones, especially now that Intel won't be vying so hard for market share in that space. It would probably be a safer bet than handing over their IP to the Chinese.

    • They were running out of money fast, so they really had no choice. AMD has been losing money every quarter for the last year and that doesn't look to change until Polaris and Zen are released. Also, Intel is as strong as ever in "what's left of the desktop market". Even when Zen reaches the market it'll be competive, but still slower than Intel's offering.

      • They were running out of money fast, so they really had no choice. AMD has been losing money every quarter for the last year and that doesn't look to change until Polaris and Zen are released. Also, Intel is as strong as ever in "what's left of the desktop market". Even when Zen reaches the market it'll be competive, but still slower than Intel's offering.

        Good to know. Why was this downmodded?

  • I wonder what their rates are for allowing a backdoor? Probably cheaper than Intel's.
  • China is investing, with zero expectation on ROI, in semiconductors under the guise of National Security according to the US Dept of Commerce. See http://electronicspurchasingst... [electronic...tegies.com]

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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