AMD are still scared Intel will outspend, outflank and outmuscle Ryzen

Intel CPU innovation

We’re less than a week away from the launch of AMD’s first Zen-based processors and, from the official benchmark numbers, it looks like Ryzen will have a huge influence on the top-end of the microprocessor market. But AMD haven’t forgotten what happened the last time they made this sort of impact on the CPU world…

A great CPU needs a top GPU to make a powerful gaming system. Check out our guide to the best graphics cards to pair up with Ryzen.

In the early 2000s AMD managed to create an x86 processor architecture which gave Intel’s a swift kick in the branch predictors and propelled them into a position of having a technologically superior product to that of their long-time rivals.

But having that tech lead wasn’t enough to keep Intel from ruling the roost when it came to getting product into the PCs people actually bought. In 2001 AMD filed a complaint to the European Commission alleging Intel was engaging in dodgy practices to stop their current and potential CPU customers from using AMD chips.

That was eventually upheld in 2009 with the EC finding Intel in breach of Article 82 of the European Commission Treaty by making alleged “payments to prevent the sales of specific rival products.” The EC imposed a fine of $1.4bn, which at the time - when Intel was back to its silicon dominating best - was kinda like loose change down the back of the sofa to them, but gave a beleaguered AMD a much-needed cash injection.

While the money helped AMD's cashflow in 2009 the damage to the business, and to the psychology of the company as a whole, was great and is still being felt today.  

AMD Ryzen CPUs

Because I’m an old man with nothing better to do with my evenings than pore over tech companies' financial reports I’ve been doing some digging into AMD's recent Form 10-K  (the annual report into a company's financial performance). These reports aren’t just pages and pages of impenetrable streams of numbers - well… maybe in part - they also cover the company’s background and, almost more importantly, who they see as their competition.

AMD’s 10-K for 2016 spends quite a lot of ink talking about their Intel rivals and what impact they might have on the company’s fiscal performance going forward. And, to me, that feels a lot like they haven’t gotten over the situation they endured in the naughties. Kinda like the way someone talks about an ex who really burned them, but they’re now fine about it. You hear me, I said I’m fine about it. FINE.

“Intel’s market share, margins and significant financial resources enable it to market its products aggressively, to target our customers and our channel partners with special incentives and to influence customers who do business with us,” AMD say in the latest report. “These aggressive activities have in the past resulted in lower unit sales and a lower average selling price for many of our products and adversely affected our margins and profitability.”

AMD then go on to talk about Intel’s business practices, such as rebates and exclusivity payments to their current and potential customers and partners, which could result in AMD being shut out by widespread product arrangements.

But they’re not just worried about Intel taking non-technological measures to restrict the spread and sales of their Ryzen CPUs, they’re also concerned about Intel buddying up with Nvidia to disadvantage their Radeon graphics silicon. Given the imminent AMD Vega launch they’ll be going head-to-head on the high-end GPU front too.

Intel could work with Nvidia against AMD

“Intel could also take actions that place our discrete GPUs at a competitive disadvantage,” the report says, “including giving one or more of our competitors in the graphics market, such as Nvidia Corporation, preferential access to its proprietary graphics interface or other useful information.”

It does have to be said though part of the Form 10-K report is about going into minute detail about the company, the business and the competitive marketplace as a whole. It is perfectly reasonable then for AMD to address any potential factors that might impact the future performance of the financial side of their technology, whether or not they're necessarily regarded as particularly likely or significant. 

The fact they make so much mention of Intel and their business practices though still feels partly like a hangover from the troubles they had with Intel in the past, and also shows they still have some concern something similar might happen again.

By contrast it’s also interesting to note how little acknowledgement Intel give AMD in their own Form 10-K. AMD mentions Intel 44 times throughout their document; Intel only mentions AMD seven times, and even then just in the section about their previous litigation. Though that could still be a symptom of Intel not taking their AMD competition seriously enough.

In Nvidia’s last Form 10-K AMD gets even shorter shrift - they only appear twice. Though that might change this year, given the increased GPU competition from AMD over the last twelve months. The green team though won’t be releasing their new report until March.

But, whatever AMD’s caution or fears, it looks like Ryzen is set to be a seriously disruptive CPU range, taking specific aim at Intel’s high-priced, high-end desktop chips. If that can translate into a seriously increased market share for AMD then Intel are surely going to have to do something to swing things back their way.

And it's going to be really interesting to see how they respond when the Ryzen chips are finally out in the wild and in people's gaming PCs.

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pmurphy8811 avatarOninoshiko avatarDave James avataryurimodin83 avatarzoforstreck avatarnj4ck avatar+7
pmurphy8811 Avatar
9
1 Month ago

It's upsetting to have to say, but should be said. As an IT Director I have already been approached by an Intel representative to discuss the "special promotions" and "Incentive rebates" that they are willing to offer me for purchasing exclusively Intel powered servers. I was not well received when I explained that I would not be purchasing anything until I see the benchmarks of the new Ryzen (naples) core and compare the cost-to-performance ratio. It was at that point they made it very clear that they would go to great lengths from a financial standpoint to incentivize me to NOT purchase AMD chips.

These are the tactics that were used back in the day that AMD had feared would be used again. Intel offered "loyalty rebates" and other clever promotions to hide the fact that they were paying customers to lock out the competition. I sincerely hope that other IT Directors and all in IT in general do what's best for the industry and choose based off of what's best for the consumer and their environment. The rebates are nice and all, but if we continue to hurt AMD for a small rebate, we destroy AMD's ability to compete and enable Intel to continue their "Tick-Tock" releases and oppressive pricing.

Be aware folks, Intel is scared and is already looking to use their weight and $'s to NOT out innovate, but to obstruct competitions ability to enter the marketplace. Why else would they be contacting and attempting to "Incentivize" customers well before the launch of AMD's server chips in Q2-Q3?

Sorry for the rant, but these past few years from Intel have been terrible from a pricing and tech innovation standpoint. I would hate to see AMD get the shaft after building such a great product over the last 5 years with the help of Jim Keller and AMD architect Mike Clark. They did such a great job turning the CPU division around it should have the ability to be judged on its own merits and not locked out by Intel to prolong the CPU stagnation in the market.

7
nj4ck Avatar
6
1 Month ago

If you have any written evidence of your conversations with the Intel rep, I'd urge you to contact the tech press and see if they're interested in reporting on it. Intel has paid fines for this in the past, if they're doing it again there should be consequences.

6
Oninoshiko Avatar
2
1 Month ago

Here's the thing, INTC doesn't have to give any incentives. A simple price cut is all they need: AMD's comparing it to a 1000USD part? Make that a 400USD part.

2
Dave James Avatar
231
1 Month ago

Suddenly wiping 60% off the price of their chips isn't going to be easy, or look good to the markets either.

And resellers aren't going to want to swallow a cut in already tight margins so Intel might be forced to swallow that cut too.

I'm not convinced Intel will be able to offer such a radical price restructuring especially with Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X on the way in the summer.

3
zoforstreck Avatar
2
1 Month ago

can you prove your words?

or can you prove that you are an IT Director?

This is an important time for AMD and the x86 world, we need to mantain a fair state for booth AMD and intel, whitout competition the only people that lose are the costumers.

maybe you can have an mail exchange whit an important technology press site that can mantain you anonymous.

2
pmurphy8811 Avatar
9
4 Weeks ago

Truth be told I cannot prove my words just YET. They stated that they would get back to me with their "offer". The next time they call though I will try to ensure that I record the call. The only reason I have not gone on the record is the lack of hard evidence yet. These people are careful. It would be their word vs mine.

As for your comment on whether or not I'm an IT Director or not... How exactly do you want me to prove that?

I ask that people stay vigilant. That is all. Intel is already slashing their prices rather substantially to compete with AMD prior to their launch from what I'm reading, so they are already on offense and looking to squash this before it begins.

2
shucherlonis Avatar
9
2 Weeks ago

Qoute:pmurphy8811

I ask that people stay vigilant. That is all. Intel is already slashing their prices rather substantially to compete with AMD prior to their launch from what I'm reading,

Are you having a laugh? Slashing their prices rather substantially?? What a nonsense!

Yeah I agree with you on one thing..to stay vigilant.

But would like to add... DON'T buy anything At ALL on Pre-Order before you see independent tests and to see if is really worth to buy or upgrade. Whatever is AMD,INTEL NVIDIA,SAMSUNG and etc

1
parallelgnome.9111 Avatar
1
4 Weeks ago

I think you need to spread this news, it is us consumers that are being robbed with these false and anti-competetive practices.

we need to stop this, we are paying thousands of dollars for from our pockets for the same product every year.

1
AQ-VIP Avatar
4 Weeks ago

If anything, the reason why AMD is still in business is to fund the money to make consoles great. You do not see Intel and NVidia taking the console route. Sure there are gaming boxes that are PC with a different OS but it's not the same as consoles I think. I have friends who want AMD because they know they can't afford Intel. AMD controlling benchmarks at events for their favor is unfair imo. It's not transparent as having a slight lead by using a 2x soft bridge on 2x Titan X instead of 1 HB Bridge on BF1 4k is wrong. If you cripple actual potential and think you are good then you end up getting fucked when all restrictions are removed.

-1
Hategrin Avatar
2
1 Week ago

The BF1 benchmarks were made with a 1080, not a Titan X.

BF1 can't even take advantage of SLI in DX12 for fucks sake, and benchmarks were shown using DX12...

1
Hategrin Avatar
2
1 Week ago

Talking about this one...?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwtH-VHIhrU&ab_channel=SerhatK%C3%BCrekci

It only had one card, SLI bridges are for 2 card solutoins....

You think plugging in an SLI bridge to a single card and leaving the other end empty helps it somehow?

BTW, it was a DX12 benchmark even if it was using SLI, DX12 doesn't use SLI, and BF1 doesn't even use multi GPU. So even if they had two cards (they don't) SLI bridge wouldn't have mattered, EVEN if they were running in multi-gpu, which they were not...

1
yurimodin83 Avatar
3
1 Month ago

if you really wanted to get him going tell him you were also looking at ARM lol

2
cyclops Avatar
4
1 Month ago

Intel threatening Ryzen reviewers

https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c121eeff8864798125a22a41924a011ddfcd1a41b1c3ee5742885b96d387113b.png

1
Dave James Avatar
231
1 Month ago

Can't talk for the rest of the UK tech press but in a decade of working in the industry I've never had Intel even coming close to putting pressure on reviews of their or anyone else's products.

We certainly haven't heard anything from Intel like that and I've not heard from other UK journos to that effect either.

1
gosub Avatar
1 Month ago

Noughties not Naughties. The years have noughts: they weren't naughty. lol

Intel has been visibly schmoozing Trump and we know how Mr Trump treats the judiciary. Depending on how things go the success of AMD (and many others) might have nothing to do with the quality of the product.

All the Zen numbers look great though.

0
Dave James Avatar
231
1 Month ago

They seemed pretty naughty to me...

1
shucherlonis Avatar
9
2 Weeks ago

Qoute:All the Zen numbers look great though.

Well..not so great as they were advertised.However..that's expected.

1