AMD Talks CPU Bigotry and ‘Blank Books’

Posted on 04 June 2012 by

John Taylor, Director of Global Product Marketing at AMD, just published an official post over at the AMD blog entitled: ‘Does an Ultrabook™ by any other name smell as sweet?’ In it, Taylor takes issue with Intel’s Ultrabook campaign and wishes that Intel would let OEMs alone to make their own decisions.

Taylor makes a good point about the nature of raw performance vs. practical application and asserts that a subset of people aren’t looking at the big picture, claiming that these people have a “CPU-bigot view”:

There actually were a fair number of articles and reviews that completely ignored points one and two above, to focus exclusively on one dimension of APU performance, forgetting video, forgetting games and forgetting app acceleration; let’s talk x86. Or more specifically, let’s talk about older workloads that can be isolated on the CPU to spit out a number which can be converted into a bar chart. Here’s how those articles sound to me: “Can the bigger or shorter bar be actually experienced by the user of the system? In any meaningful way? IRRELVANT! Look at the size of the bar! Look at the number this benchmark is producing!”  A good example of how reviews like this get converted into sensationalized roundup headlines is this Barron’s piece. “AMD will largely compete on price rather than performance,” it reads. The author is unfortunately, in my opinion, missing the point: what about the quality of the entertainment experience, or better battery life, or maximum Internet acceleration, or fast photo and video editing? This opinion, like the example above, is all about “big bar charts”.

While this may be a good point, Taylor goes on to complain that Intel’s Ultrabook campaign is not where the market should go:

The world’s biggest semiconductor company has trademarked a name to build a separate category for its flavor of thin notebooks and if OEMs want to benefit from and be included in a big advertising campaign they need to use this trademark.

As for AMD’s view? Let the OEMs control their brand, own the end-user experience, and we at AMD will worry about creating processor designs that anticipate where the market is going across experience, device industrial design, and power. To that end, premium ultrathins, mainstream ultrathins, and value ultrathins all sound just great to us. So do “Sleekbooks”!

Taylor jeers at the idea of the ‘Ultrabook’ with some humorous new categories of ‘Blank Books’ to “keep splintering up the notebook market”:

HookBook: Cylindrical battery serves dual-purpose of fishing line spool for up to 500 yds. Of 18 lb. test; optical drive includes optional drink coozy mount; Integrated Sonar “Bass Finder” replaces GPS.

BleakBook: Comes in Coal Ash Gray finish; pre-loaded e-reader app features the master works of Charles Dickens.

FreakBook: Available only in California and Colorado, this is the perfect portable PC when you want to let your freak flag fly. Pre-loaded Twitter app with bio-rhythm detector tweets all your followers when you feel a freak flag coming on.

It’s tough to argue with allowing OEMs to control their brand, but when I stop to look at what Intel has done with Ultrabooks, I must say that they’ve accomplished something really great for consumers. By offering OEMs the opportunities to be included in marketing campaigns and other benefits (not to mention manufacturing the guts of their products!), so long as the OEMs meet a few expectations, Intel has absolutely revitalized the laptop market. Far from locking down the thin and light segment, Intel seems to be stimulating it; just look at all of the incredible Ultrabooks that were just announced! I would argue that Intel is proving to be a force working for the consumer: performance, features, and satisfaction is going up and price is going down. As long as Intel continues using the Ultrabook campaign to benefit the consumer, Ultrabooks will prosper.

We’re very interested to hear what our readers think. Please have a read through Taylor’s article (it’s not too long, don’t worry!)  and let us know your thoughts. Is Taylor just jealous of Intel, or is there merit to his arguments?

Categorized | Opinion

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  • Dominic Sharoo

    To AMD:

    “What he hell is cinebench”

    Your own Bulldozer review guide has cinebench.
    Intel have used cinebench as a demo before

    Are you now abandoning the traditional,industry proven way of relatively comparing CPU performance?

    Yes it is not relevant to the end user but it scales very well. Do purchasers of cars know what a dyno is or various precision driving tests are ?

    When you release the final versions of OpenCL accelerated version of Handbrake/Paint.net/7-Zip testers will use these tools. In the real world I do not know of anyone who uses WinZip any more.

    “Just tell me it plays Diablo 3 on a notebook and I’m all in!”)”

    Intel formally support Diablo 3. The comparison you point to has a Intel Extreme CPU paired with Intel iGPU, a combination which will rarely happen in the real market

    To quote the review “At 1280×720 we found the AMD notebook was 40% faster although *both platforms were able to run the game smoothly at this smaller screen resolution. “*

    Most trinity laptops will be fitted with a 13×7 display. ODMs I have spoken to are largely not interested in making custom AMD notebooks unless there is customer request.

    19×10 with HD4000 is an unreasonable request. Many but no all notebooks with 19×10 including Ultrabooks released at Computex 2012 feature an NVIDIA Kepler GPU of the GT610 to GT640 type, GT650M can be found in sub 2KG 14” models such as from Gigabyte.

    “today’s workloads need something more like the Avengers approach. (even Iron Man needs help.)”

    In our testing with our own test case, Llano provdes the slowest solution for Windows Movie Maker. AMD were unable to provide use with a technical solution or explanation

    “As for AMD’s view? Let the OEMs control their brand, own the end-user experience, and we at AMD will worry about creating processor designs that anticipate where the market is going across experience, device industrial design, and power”

    OEMs want to control costs especially for entry laptops, $10,$20,$30 saved matters.

    Looking at your own partner HP, their entry level G6 unit powered by AMD TRINITY saves costs by offering four choices of the cheapest wlan cards possible, all being 1×1 solutions.

    You want to compete on price yet that notebook (there are no AMD Sleekbook/Ultrathins in AUS yet) is $698, same pricepoint as Intel and the only hw benefit is the dual graphics, yet crippled by the screen resolution.

    Please do not advertise your “maximum Internet acceleration” software that is part of the Trinity Platform when OEMs are fitting $10 65mbit 1×1 20MHz Wi-Fi cards to their chassis.

    This model has DUAL GRAPHICS yet has the lowest end Wi-Fi. THis is OEM control over a platform.

    Tgese are fine for the target market the G6 is aimed at however for a premium solution such as Trinity this is not acceptable.

    Any laptop, ultrathin or sleekbook with DUAL GRAPHICS can easily drive higher than 13×7 yet higher than 13×7 is very rare on AMD models more so than Intel? Why is this? why is not AMD forcing OEM to take higher res panels for dual graphics ?

    When is the industry going to see a reference design for Trinity Ultrathin or what are the formal technical requirements for the Ultrathin form factor ?

  • Rasbattin

    AMD plays up the GPU because that’s where their strength is.

    Intel plays up the CPU because that’s where their strength is.

    Apple plays up the Post-PC area because iOS is where their strength is.

    None of it means anything, people should stop taking corporations so seriously.

  • jon

    Does AMD have CPUs that are comparable to Core i’s that provide notebooks a noticeable battery life boost? If so, can anyone tell me so I could look up if the performance drop is worth the extra battery life? Thanks.

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