As we recently discussed in another post, AMD has now affirmed that it too is interested in joining the crowded world of tablet/smartphone processor manufacturers with a new x86 line, the 4.5-watt Hondo, a combination GPU/CPU.
The bigger question is whether or not AMD has even the slightest chance in the mobile world with huge competitors like Nvidia, Qualcomm, TI, and even Intel.
First off, x86 has had a hard time really gaining any real traction in the tablet world. Sure, this is starting to (slowly) change, but the reality of the matter is that x86 just isn’t in heavy demand in the mobile world.
So if users were to consider x86, would they even bother going with the #2-guy in the x86 world, or would they instead flock straight to Intel?
No, I’m not bashing AMD, just talking facts here: AMD is a solid #2 in the x86 world. As I write this, I am using an HP ultra-book that features an AMD processor and an ATI graphics processor. I love AMD, so this isn’t meant to be negatively aimed against them.
So what, if anything, does AMD have to offer in the x86 tablet world that Intel can’t? Actually, quite possibly a lot. While Intel is a bigger name and generally considered faster, AMD is still (arguably) a very innovative design company and they have a big advantage over Intel: ATI and the graphics power it brings.
Yes, AMD processors aren’t as good as Intel, but in most cases ATI GPUs are much better than their cheap Intel counterparts. I am a gamer and I HATE the idea of using an Intel graphics card (though they are certainly more capable now then they were 5 years ago).
If AMD could leverage its ATI reputation in the tablet market, it would offer something for those that are either gamers or into graphics intense uses for tablets. Keep in mind that tablets are mostly geared at basic business or casual use, so graphics-users are a much small niche. Additionally, AMD’s GPUs might be better than x86 Intel, but what about ARM processors like Nvidia?
I think that AMD’s move to focusing away from the Intel/AMD fight isn’t necessarily a bad move. They may not be growing in the PC market but they aren’t shrinking that much either (okay, they are down a little from a few years ago). They realize that they will NEVER overtake Intel on the x86 front, but they might have better luck going mobile.
If AMD can manage to develop a solid niche group in the mobile sector, combined with their current niche in the PC world, they certainly could have some good growth opportunities ahead of them.
What I’d really like to see is one of the big console makers consider an X86 processor (like Sony or Microsoft). Sure, Microsoft tried this before and had an awful time as far as stability was concerned (Pentium-based original Xbox), but x86 has come a long way since then and AMD is nothing if not cost effective compared to bigger brands like Intel.
What do you think? Is AMD making the right choose by giving up the goose and no longer directly engaging in an arms race with Intel? Can they do any better than Intel with x86 in the mobile world? Share your thoughts below.