AMD’s Chief Executive Does Not Predict Rapid K8L Ramp

AMD’s New Micro-Architecture Prepared for Slow Start

by Anton Shilov
02/22/2007 | 01:50 PM

UPDATE: A comment made by Hector Ruiz was clarified to reflect the difference between revenue ramp, earnings ramp and product ramp.


Hector Ruiz, chief executive of the world’s second largest manufacturer of x86 microprocessors, said in an interview that Advanced Micro Devices’ new micro-architecture will not really take off this year, but will allow the chipmaker to ink contracts with computer makers. The announcement means that the company will continue to push its current lineup, which loses benchmarks when compared to Intel’s Core 2.

“We don’t expect the [K8L] ramp [this year] to be dramatic because it’s a new core, new micro-architecture and [AM2+] platform,” said Hector Ruiz, chief executive of AMD, in an interview with CRN web-site.

The company still claims that the transition to the new micro-architecture will have tremendous importance, possibly because the company will use it for several years from now. The chief executive of AMD even compares the transition from K8 to the next-generation micro-architecture to the original transition to K8, where initially slow-ramp predecessed massive design wins, which allowed AMD to capture 25% of x86-compatible microprocessor market in Q4 2006, three and a half years after the firm first launched its Opteron product and one and a half year after it initiated shipments of dual-core chips.

“This is an incredibly important product transition. […] The biggest impact it will have is that we'll see a large number of customers and partners align themselves behind the technology. We expect that ramp to follow along the same lines as when Opteron began to get adopted. So I expect  [the revenue ramp] to follow the same patterns. Over 2007, it will have a significant impact on what I call design wins. People are committed to the architecture and product, and [it will be] a very significant part of revenue and earning in 2008,” Mr. Ruiz stated.

It is yet unclear how fast the ramp of AMD’s K8L quad-core AMD Opteron processors will be, however, according to earlier unofficial information, the desktop segment will not take off really fast. Moreover, it took Intel about two quarters to ramp up the Intel Xeon 5100-series “Woodcrest” chips based on the Core 2 micro-architecture unveiled in June, 2006.

AMD is projected to introduce new family of desktop microprocessors which are code-named after stars and use the new code-named K8L micro-architecture in the third quarter of 2007, according to a recent roadmap of the chipmaker published unofficially. Those chips are made using 65nm process technology and the family is set to include both dual-core and quad-core microprocessors, though, it is uncertain whether K8L lineup includes single-core central processing units (CPUs) too. It is believed that micro-architectural enhancements of the K8L will allow AMD to more successfully compete against Intel Core 2 family of chips.

The new desktop chips will feature AM2+ form-factor and will, according to unofficial information, be compatible with existing AM2 infrastructure. By the Q4 of 2007 AMD’s product mix will include 20% of AM2+ processors, while by the end of Q1 2008 there will be “above 60%” of AM2+ processors among all chips shipped by AMD, according to earlier information.

If the information is correct, it will take AMD three quarters to shift 60% to 70% of its desktop products to the new infrastructure and micro-architecture. By comparison, it took Advanced Micro Devices about two quarters to shift virtually all of its desktop chips to AM2 infrastructure from 939-pin and 754-pin form-factors, meaning that the K8L will really have the biggest impact on AMD’s results in 2008, whereas in 2007 the company will have to use its K8 micro-architecture to compete.