Interview on 2021 Demand, Provide, Tariffs, Xilinx, and EPYC

Following the keynote press convention, AMD invited quite a lot of key press companions for some Q&A time with Dr. Lisa Su. On the desk, we have been instructed, was any matter referring to AMD. Provided that the corporate launched quite a lot of merchandise simply because the earlier yr ended, and provide points are tight for end-users, there have been alternatives to quiz the CEO on manufacturing demand towards provide, AMD’s product cadence, and expectations for 2021.

Matters on the entrance of thoughts have been AMD’s bulletins that had simply come by the wire – the brand new Ryzen 5000 Cellular household, that includes an up to date processor core, in addition to goal markets for gaming ultraportables in addition to the perfect gaming notebooks AMD has ever been in. There was additionally a short preview of AMD’s interaction within the enterprise market with next-generation Milan processors, and a tie in with the Mercedes AMG Components 1 staff, on condition that AMD offers a technical partnership.

This roundtable was a little bit totally different than most. Regardless of the entire dialogue being on the report, AMD requested that we (or any of the press) didn’t put up a full transcript of the decision. Historically we put up these transcripts, mildly edited for readability and typically organized for consistency – we fought our nook with AMD, and in the end agreed to disagree. Because of this, this Q&A might be extra a ‘quote and clarify’ state of affairs.

Lisa Su: ‘AMD’s focus is about excessive efficiency and important generational enhancements; x86 is a powerful ecosystem and we proceed to take a position closely. Customized designs [like Arm] are out there, and are function constructed to be used. If something, it’s a validation about how a lot the demand for compute is rising. We see a bigger alternative for personalized options for particular workloads, and AMD has a powerful semi-custom division to satisfy these alternatives’.

My preliminary query to Lisa was in regards to the emergence of Arm. It’s a query I’ve requested Lisa earlier than, in addition to AMD CTO Mark Papermaster, nonetheless this place of the market now could be very totally different. Amazon’s Graviton2 is now being deployed extensively over at AWS (learn our evaluation), and Ampere’s new 80-core Altra processor (learn our evaluation) sits on the high of the stack for single socket HPC efficiency. Our argument is that these Arm based mostly fashions are encroaching on the standard x86 market, and given Arm’s year-on-year anticipated efficiency positive factors from its roadmap starting from 30% to 50%, if x86 continues to be focusing purely on high-performance compute, it would stand to be overtaken. Our purpose with a query like that is to extract an concept of how AMD (and Intel, I requested the same factor to CEO Bob Swan) plans to strategy the competitors, both by constructing above it, or utilizing a two pronged strategy between x86 and Arm. These can be the 2 high-level approaches we would anticipate.

Lisa’s reply was not significantly committal both method, as a substitute citing the truth that because the trade is rising, it offers extra alternatives for specialised merchandise. If something, based on Lisa, it validates the will for compute and the agility to construct for and goal particular workloads. To not say that we disagree with Lisa right here, however the growth of the Arm server ecosystem is for broad workloads, not merely particular markets. Lisa states that AMD at any time has its semi-custom division to tackle these alternatives, though when requested if AMD has any semi-custom enterprise companions, Lisa cited the robust work the corporate is doing with the console market and spoke extra to potential than a selected entity. Little doubt if an organization requested AMD to construct a Neoverse chip, with some AMD secret sauce, they might.

In the same vein, I approached the subject about Apple and its M1 chip. M1 is a transparent constructing block for the corporate to maneuver ahead into desktops, workstations, and doubtlessly the enterprise market. This has the potential to have an effect on the connection between Apple and AMD, particularly if Apple decides to additionally department out its graphics integration for its personal options.

Lisa Su: ‘The M1 is extra about how a lot processing and innovation there’s out there. This is a chance to innovate extra, each in {hardware} and software program, and it goes past the ISA. From our standpoint, there’s nonetheless innovation within the PC house – we’ve plenty of decisions and other people can use the identical processors in quite a lot of totally different environments. We anticipate to see extra specialization as we go ahead over the following couple of years, and it permits extra differentiation. However Apple continues to work with us as their graphics associate, and we work with them.’

A big a part of the Q&A dialogue was centered round provide and demand, particularly given the notable lack of {hardware} on the cabinets for end-users and lovers. At a time when AMD has constructed out quite a lot of merchandise in a really compressed time-frame, together with consoles for 2 companions, it stands to motive that if customers can’t purchase the most recent ‘main efficiency {hardware}’, there are going to be complaints.

Lisa Su: ‘That is the results of a requirement targeted atmosphere, reasonably than manufacturing points. There’s tightness within the provide chain as a consequence of demand, and that invariably places strain on our client, PC, and gaming product traces. Because it pertains to our semiconductor manufacturing, we’re placing in extra capability to satisfy this sudden demand. It is going to take time to catch up, however that’s what we’re seeing.’

When requested if this excessive demand atmosphere and capability ceiling would doubtlessly cap AMD at 22% market share, Lisa stated that AMD doesn’t imagine that it’s going to. Past truly constructing the silicon, Lisa additionally famous that there are substrate shortages, merely as a result of elevated demand, and that the ecosystem is working to additionally construct extra capability (together with AMD investments), however that can take time and proceed by 2021.

The query is at all times if and when this stage of provide will enhance to satisfy this improve in demand, and if AMD continues to be producing as many CPUs and GPUs as it may, the place they may be going.

Lisa Su: ‘We’re transport plenty of components, and volumes in all segments are growing, and that can occur by 2021. There might be tightness within the first half of the yr, however alongside customers we additionally ship to OEM companions. There’s some real-time prioritization between end-user and OEM, however we perceive that customers need extra and it’s very excessive on our precedence checklist to satisfy this excessive demand.’

One aspect Lisa did communicate to is how manufacturing stage choices happen prematurely. AMD launched quite a lot of product in This fall 2021, together with Ryzen 5000, Radeon RX 6000 GPUs, two video games consoles, and likewise began transport its subsequent technology EPYC Milan processors. On high of all that, AMD needed to construct its new Ryzen 5000 Cellular processors to satisfy pocket book demand in Q1 2021.

Lisa Su: ‘One of many issues that was essential with Cezanne (Ryzen 5000 Cellular) is that we have been transport for manufacturing in early 2021. With the OEM cycle of these merchandise, enabling them to get the primary batches of {hardware} in This fall was very important for launch by the primary quarter and the primary half of 2021. That is how AMD matches its product cadence, and the selection on {hardware} manufacture is one among timing. It’s nothing elementary, it’s not design restricted, it’s all about making the precise bets (typically months prematurely) and enabling market estimation of demand.  We needed to allow thousands and thousands of console APUs as nicely, and there’s larger demand than we thought right here as nicely. Working with OEM companions like Sony and Microsoft means enabling totally different methods as nicely.’

The subject of pricing was additionally talked about, not solely as a consequence of low provide for end-users but in addition the expiration of US tariffs on electronics. Mixed with this, the position of miners has additionally seen a pointy demand for some graphics options, making the pricing state of affairs quite a bit worse. Lisa spoke to AMD’s technique right here for maintaining costs decrease than normal, however defined it’s not an instantly solvable resolution.

Lisa Su: ‘We knew in regards to the expiration of some tariff insurance policies, and prematurely labored in the direction of a extra versatile provide chain because it pertains to AMD. We’re dedicated to maintaining GPU pricing as near our prompt retail pricing as a lot as doable, as a result of it’s the one strategy to be honest to the customers. Usually when we’ve GPU launches, our personal branded playing cards can be found initially however then fade away for our companions to choose up. This time round we’re not phasing out our RX 6000 collection, enabling us to promote direct to prospects as little as doable. We’re encouraging companions to do the identical. Not solely tariffs, however the COVID atmosphere has elevated transport and freight prices, that are exhausting to keep away from. As we get right into a extra regular atmosphere, this could enhance. This additionally issues for our deliberate graphics updates by the primary half of the yr, as we’ve quite a lot of product coming to market.’

The subject got here up that maybe present 8-core on cell, 16-core on desktop, and 64-core on enterprise have been elementary practical limits for these markets, in mild of this spherical of merchandise having the identical core counts because the earlier generations. Lisa commented that ‘There might be extra core counts sooner or later – I might not say these are the boundaries! It is going to come as we scale the remainder of the system.’ To that time, AMD’s design philosophy was a query on desk, on condition that these design groups have a gradual circulate of personnel out and in of them. Lisa defined that:

‘Mark, Mike, and the groups have accomplished an exceptional job. We’re pretty much as good as we’re with the product right this moment, however with our bold roadmaps, we’re specializing in Zen 4 and Zen 5 to be extraordinarily aggressive. Additionally on GPUs, David Wang and the staff concentrate on our long run roadmaps, and we decide the right combination of threat to get innovation, efficiency, and predictability. Bets are made, and we monitor the progress. We’re pleased with RDNA2 on efficiency per watt, and general efficiency, and we’ve quite a lot of concentrate on RDNA3. On parts similar to AI particular integration, we’re making investments. CDNA launched in November, and you will notice us including extra AI functionality to our CPUs and GPUs.’

On the subject of heterogeneous CPUs, pairing a high-performance core with a high-efficiency core, Lisa’s response was pretty telling, in that ‘our Zen 3 resolution already scales very nicely from entry to enterprise, with the right combination of energy, efficiency, and die space – to allow a heterogeneous design we’ve to search out the precise stability of cores, and we must see a big worth addition.

Pivoting to extra enterprise operations, and the subject of AMD’s acquisition of Xilinx got here into dialog. The deal introduced final yr for $35 billion in an all-stock acquisition has had its share of encouragement and detractors, questioning if the merger is the precise time, the precise match, and if it is sensible to take away competitors from the market.

Lisa Su: ‘We’re enthusiastic about closing the Xilinx deal; it’s the following massive step within the story for AMD. There’s going to be quite a lot of know-how going ahead, and AMD has made good progress in recent times – we’ve deep buyer partnerships, and we’re constructing belief to be behind a very powerful platforms. We would like the biggest enterprises to belief AMD as their provider, and the Xilinx acquisition will assist this. Xilins is the precise subsequent step – we’ve the will to have a a lot greater footprint, and Xilinx will assist AMD execute on its base enterprise. Xilinx CEO Victor Peng will be a part of us as a part of that technique, and we anticipate a seamless transition saying laser targeted on execution. That is what leaders need to do – we’ve to broaden and scale. AMD can do each’.

The final matter was on AMD’s enterprise worth, particularly because it pertains to how AMD integrates with its OEM companions and enterprise prospects. Lisa cited that rising the business and enterprise companies have been key targets for the corporate in 2021, particularly as these are areas the place AMD sees a chance for sizeable sustainable development. Particularly Lisa was requested about how AMD’s technique goes to develop based mostly on current enhancements constituted of the competitors.

Lisa Su: ‘For our Ryzen 5000 Cellular components, we’ve acknowledged that we’ll have 150+ design wins in 2021, which is 50% greater than what we noticed with Ryzen 4000 Cellular. These numbers embody our business system deployments, and we’re working exhausting enabling our safety options in our Ryzen Professional platform – we have already got quite a lot of designs from high OEMs coming later this yr. There might be new initiatives round Ryzen Professional as nicely. On the enterprise facet, we’re broadening our concentrate on EPYC, which implies to say that we’ll have enterprise options focused to totally different vertical markets. This permits a sooner time-to-market for these prospects to deploy our options. We additionally began transport Milan to OEM companions in This fall final yr as a lead as much as this. Extra of it will come as we formally launch Milan in Q1.’

Spherical Up

In This fall final yr, AMD launched Ryzen 5000 for desktops, Radeon RX 6000 discrete graphics, was the silicon associate for the 2 main consoles which have offered of their thousands and thousands, was transport out EPYC Milan processors to prospects, and was beginning to construct Ryzen 5000 Cellular processors for its OEMs to be prepared for a Q1 launch.

Within the first half of this yr AMD is anticipating to launch its 3rd Gen EPYC, the following technology of Radeon cell graphics, extra discrete graphics choices, and we’ll see the deployment of Ryzen 5000 Cellular laptops and notebooks into the ecosystem.

If we mix This fall with Q1 (and Q2), that is all at a time when AMD is experiencing higher-than-expected demand for its product line, and it seems it must order extra from TSMC (in addition to develop its substrate provide chain) so as to allow this. An order from TSMC would possibly take a couple of months to return by, and so even with orders in place, AMD expects a decent provide by the primary half of the yr, however doesn’t see this as a theoretical ceiling on its market share numbers.

For different issues, the corporate nonetheless appears ambivalent about Arm’s potential progress, at the least publically to the tech press. As options constructed on Arm come to market, in addition to AMD’s personal, you’ll be able to remember to examine right here at AnandTech. However on that, AMD is seeking to construct out its enterprise providing to extra targeted verticals, which is definitely of profit to each AMD and its prospects. A few of these could also be based mostly in CDNA, AMD’s new compute accelerator structure, and AMD is seeking to improve AI help in future merchandise. The Xilinx acquisition continues to be a important enterprise outlay to be thoughtful of, and is predicted to finish by the tip of the yr.

For the longer roadmap, Lisa is evident that the corporate is working exhausting on Zen 4, Zen 5, and RDNA3. Future processors appear set to have larger core counts too.

We wish to thank Lisa and her staff for his or her time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *