AMD Channel Chief: Fusion Significantly More Capable Than Sandy Bridge


AMD's executives are confident that its new Fusion integrated graphics platform offers system builders a greater variety of technical designs and business opportunities than Intel's Sandy Bridge.

In an interview with CRN on Thursday, David Kenyon, vice president of worldwide channel marketing at AMD, said that system builders in Europe and Asia see the variety of Fusion designs as an advantage for AMD against its main rival in the microprocessor industry. "It's a compelling way to show differentiation with Intel," Kenyon said.

Kenyon said that the reseller channel is essential to the success of AMD's Fusion platform, as more Fusion APUs go to market in the middle of this year. "We've been working hard on the channel programs, especially our Partner Portal which launched last year," Kenyon said. "We've started rolling out new programs and marketing campaigns to promote Fusion as well. We see it as positive momentum."

As for the sudden resignation of AMD's CEO Dirk Meyer earlier this month, Kenyon said a change at the top will translate into new opportunities for the company.

"The change made in executive leadership was a signal to the market and the company that we need to move faster in the future," Kenyon said. "It's not a statement of how we've done to this point."

Beyond the integrated and discrete graphics technology itself, AMD is excited to see how the channel relates to the additional capabilities on its processors, Kenyon said. He cited Brazos APU-enabled desktop PCs as an example of products that can gain access to emerging markets thanks to affordable, low-power processor technology.

"To get this kind of capability in the not-so-recent past, you would have had to pay a thousand dollars, now it's being offered at lower price-points," he said. "That part is particularly compelling for us as far as our channel partners."

In addition, Kenyon said AMD is engaged in new marketing campaigns designed to promote Fusion products, and that the launch of AMD's Partner Portal is contributing to those efforts. "The rollout of portal allows partners to interact with their marketing funds," Kenyon said. "All of that is going to be handled online, and the portal is going to be available all over the world."

Next: AMD Reaching Out To Smaller Channel Partners

With regard to North America specifically, Kenyon said AMD is mostly concerned with meeting and talking with as many channel partners as possible, especially SMB partners, through the Partner Portal as well as other avenues such as social media.

"This year our goal is to get out to thousands and tens of thousands of smaller partners, the ones that the larger system builders are serving and get our products out to many folks as possible," he said. "It's not just building, better faster chips. It's about connecting the product's capabilities to the reality of how customers use it."

That said, Kenyon re-affirmed that AMD believes it possesses a technical advantage over Intel, and that this advantage will drive its ability to bring more distributors and partners into t he fold.

"The graphics on Fusion are significantly more capable than Sandy Bridge," Kenyon said. "We've made significant investments in the discrete graphics capability within Fusion. We're working on a host of things with partners to make their experience of Fusion products better as a whole."

Kenyon said AMD is developing an ecosystem around its processors, including support for various applications, giving the company another competitive edge over Intel. "That's a fundamental difference with Intel. The differentiation has not just been on raw benchmark performance. It has been other dimensions as well," he said.

AMD launched its Fusion APUs at CES earlier this month -- bringing CPU and GPU capabilities on a single die, on processors aimed at various form factors and price ranges -- the day after Intel unveiled its similar Sandy Bridge chip platform.

During Thursday's earnings call with analysts and reporters, other AMD executives offered bullish assessments of the burgeoning integrated graphics market and of the prospect of competition with Sandy Bridge following the Fusion launch.

"We were pleasantly surprised at CES," said Rick Bergman, the general manager of AMD's product group. "We're thrilled about the increased attention towards the GPU and video capabilities of PCs…because at the end of the day, AMD wins whether it's a Fusion processor or a discrete GPU."

Bergman specifically addressed the capabilities of the high-end Llano family of APUs, aimed at workstations and powerful notebooks.

"As we look forward with Llano," Bergman said, "we're real excited, because our value proposition will really shine through. We'll show the world what GPU performance and capabilities mean with Llano, and it will be much higher performance than what you're seeing out there from our competition in that area."

Bergman also touted the company's discrete graphics business, which fared significantly better than its compute solutions products did in 2010.

Next: Bullish Statements By AMD's Executives "At the end of the day, AMD wins whether it's a Fusion processor or a discrete GPU," Bergman said. "I don't think anybody is better positioned than we are in the GPU market," he said.

Thomas Seifert, AMD's Chief Financial Officer, who has replaced Meyer as CEO on an interim basis, also singled out Llano as an example of AMD's high-performance solutions, even though the company has emphasized low power-consumption and reduced costs in many of its recent processor offerings.

"I think you can...hear the excitement we feel for [Llano] and the momentum we have generated," Seifert said. "So we feel confident to gain significant market share in this segment with this platform."