AMD to lay off 15 percent of its workers

A few days ago, there were rumors that AMD was preparing to lay off as many as 30 percent of its team members. Today, the PC and graphics processing company announced it would be reducing its workforce, but that the numbers would in fact be around 15 percent of its total workforce.

AMD's press release said that the layoffs would be made sometime in the current fourth quarter of 2012 and that the company would take a one time $80 million charge as a result of the workforce reduction. AMD also announced that for the third quarter of 2012 it had a loss of $157 million.

Rory Read, AMD's current president and CEO, said that part of the problem was the overall decline in PC sales. Read said, "The PC industry is going through a period of very significant change that is impacting both the ecosystem and AMD. It is clear that the trends we knew would re-shape the industry are happening at a much faster pace than we anticipated."

Before today's financial results, AMD was promoting the launch of its new low power processor, the Z-60 APU, which is made specifically for Windows 8-based tablets. At the time, AMD slammed ARM-based Windows RT tablets for not being able to run legacy Windows programs. It also slammed Intel's chips, claims that Windows 8 tablets with Intel processors would be more expansive than AMD's chips.

Source: AMD | Image via AMD

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Does that now mean there will be only 1 person working on the Catalyst drivers as opposed to 2 that they must have now.

AMD was counting on low power computing becoming more popular sooner, and they were also counting on better use of parallel programming to have taken off more than it has.

AMD's 4,6,8,16 core CPU/APUs are well designed with far better integrated graphics technology than Intel offers, but the CPU performance per core fall below Intel CPUs.

Software that is not threading or only making minor use of threading will not run as well on AMD CPUs. So when games come out that are using only one or two execution loops, they do not run as fast on the AMD system, even though there are idle cores that could be utilized.

AMD had the right vision, as multicore is the future of CPU performance, but the industry is still not programming well for it. Microsoft's Async development tools and languages are one way we will get there, but they are still new and far from widely used.

In a way this is like the GPU race with NVidia, with ATI/AMD having far more stream processors for shader code, but developers were not doing well in filling them, so the faster clock cycles of the NVidia cards were beating the ATI/AMD cards when they shouldn't have been if the full potential of the GPU had been used.

(Ironically the AMD problem is a lot like the PS3/Sony problem with their Cell processor, they couldn't get the effective performance out of it because developers were not designing game code for all the cores well, and even Sony's development tools were rather poor at compiling code and threading where it should have done on its own.)

As tablets and low power devices take off, which will happen with Windows 8 and the tablet boom that it will create for traditional PCs, AMD has a chance to reestablish itself. However, with the work Intel has been putting into more efficient Atom and their iCore processors, it is going to be hard for AMD to establish a significant lead beyond cost differences.

When one of my companies was starting out in PC production in the early 90s, the AMD CPUs were brilliant. Not only were the costs better than the Intel Pentium line, but the performance if properly configured was significantly faster than what Intel was producing at the time. Even into the late 90s, and AMD having the first 1ghz CPUs they were competitive with intel.

Then came the shift in Intel technology from the Pentium 4 to the Core/Core Duo line of processors that were significantly faster at single core operations than anything AMD had.

AMD was also caught up in buying ATI and focusing on APU and SoC designs and not doing well, eventually using reference designs from Microsoft's hardware engineers for their current APU reference designs. Intel also took help from Microsoft as they were also failing to build solid SoC designs compared to what Microsoft was producing.
(This is where people are surprised that Microsoft has anything to do with hardware, but the first desktop class SoC design and technology that AMD and Intel reference was built by Microsoft and is what is used in the newer editions of the XBox 360, as it is a SoC design.)


Anyway... It is sad to see AMD taking a hit because of delayed industry timing for lower powered integrated technologies. I hope they do get a second wind in the next couple of years, as Intel needs the competition, and if left to just competing with ARM class CPUs, it will not be enough. Intel already sits on too much technology, retarding the advancement of the industry, and without AMD pushing them (which they haven't) it leaves the industry flat.

thenetavenger said,
Then came the shift in Intel technology from the Pentium 4 to the Core/Core Duo line of processors that were significantly faster at single core operations than anything AMD had.

the interesting part i heard was Intel was brick walled and suffering bad from heat problems with the P4 D's etc and the magix bullet was telling the engineering research team to find a solution and they (Intel) stated that they found their answer in Pentium 3 tech. and incorporated that into the C2D's
By the way i have a C2D and love it and i also have a new machine using an AMD Phenom 2 Quad core coming in the mail (family member doesn't want it / gave it away)
I rememeber when when 1ghz AMD cpu's came out.. i was using them(AMD's) way before that.

Anyway i agree with ever word good reply you made
and i hope the competition stays for the consumers sake.

I recently built a gaming PC with an AMG FX 8150 8 Core CPU and I gotta tell you, that thing is a beast. Being an Intel-Only user for years, I have to tell you, I am very impressed with the AMD CPU, which by the way, cost me $200.00 less than the Intel equivalent and does exactly the same thing. I would really hate to see AMD disappear. I hope they can survive. If things do get ugly, I hope someone like IBM, Google, Dell or Apple buys them out to keep the competition and prices fair.

What people don't realize when they see these statistical titles is that this is good for almost every company that does this.

Cleaning out the chaff is necessary.

15% sounds like just about enough to get AMD back on track.

If the 15%ers are worth their stuff, they'll go on to do even better things.

Edited by deadonthefloor, Oct 19 2012, 6:22am :

Unfortunately for AMD that is the 3rd round of big layoffs. I hope they pull through, but with its engineering force cut again I'm not so sure this time around. They are falling further and further behind.

It's sad. I've used AMD processors in my main computer since the K6-2. But in my most recent upgrade a few months ago, I finally made the switch to Intel.

Shame really. But they just aren't producing processors to beat intel. Hopefully they step up again. They've done it before and the PC community always goes with the best chips regardless of who makes them.

technikal said,
Shame really. But they just aren't producing processors to beat intel. Hopefully they step up again. They've done it before and the PC community always goes with the best chips regardless of who makes them.

well no not really. when amd had superior products, intel blocked them from the market place. amd never made massive amounts of money, they were never able to capitalize on what they had created. imagine for a second, you put your time, and limited resources to create a product that is exceptional. now your main competitor is using bribes and threats in order to stop you from selling your product and making money, hell you cant even give away your product. amd never failed you, you failed amd by continuing to support a company who has destroyed competition and innovation in order to maintain profits. and people wonder why amd cant compete, pathetic.

intel has a very long past for stifling competition, amd was not the first.