Telling the press and investors one thing and OEMs another isn’t what a company on the comeback path should be doing.
“We’ve been sampling parts to customers over the last several months, and we will begin shipping Kaveri in 2013, towards the end of the year,” was how Lisa Su, AMD’s senior face at Computex, concluded her keynote.
Su had just finished the first public demonstration of Kaveri, with the chip powering a demo of a level of the hack-and-slash game Devil May Cry.
This wasn’t necessarily new information for the tech enthusiast and investor crowd. Days before, AMD had updated its investor relations portal with a roadmap that put Kaveri’s launch somewhere in the last quarter of 2013.
So, coming out of Computex the message to the public from AMD was Kaveri in 2013. Full stop.
— AMD (@AMD) January 8, 2013
But behind closed doors this wasn’t necessarily the case.
In late July VR-Zone obtained a series of documents given to OEMs by AMD behind closed doors (the document we obtained is heavily watermarked so we can’t post it publicly). This document says that engineering samples of Kaveri won’t be ready until August, production candidate samples will go out in October and initial production will begin in December. The target launch into channel is now mid-February 2014 meaning that consumers will be able to buy the chip until the spring.
Interestingly the document also made it clears the days of the big core are numbered, leaving the FX-9590 as the final legacy of the FX line.
Roy Taylor, AMD’s VP of channel sales, had a confusing answer when asked about Kaveri’s delays. He claimed that AMD never said the launch would be before Christmas, and the chip would be available shortly after its formal launch at CES. He chalked up delays to HSA’s marketing not yet being complete, saying the architecture itself was ready to go.
Update Aug 6: The AMD PR office in Taiwan said that there is no change to Kaveri’s schedule. It is not clear what that means.
This isn’t Kaveri’s first delay. By all accounts, the chip was supposed to be out by now but it was a no-show on the market after this year’s CES. Richland, which is overclocked Trinity by any other name, is now the stopgap to push the company through 2013.
AMD saying one thing to the press and another thing to OEM partners behind closed doors is not a tactic a company trying to win back confidence of investors should be engaging in. Investor newsletters and analysts had many favorable things to say about AMD as the company racked up wins with its APUs and got its intellectual property into the next-generation of game consoles.
Paper launches, product delays and not being truthful with investors can quickly erode confidence that was earned through design wins. At Computex, Intel’s big keynote was an admission that it was late to the APU game and was now playing catchup. In the David and Goliath narrative that has perpetually been AMD vs. Intel, this has the making of a well formed rock about to be flung.
Kaveri’s delay is a big deal not because the chip will be revolutionary upon launch — try asking a developer how to code effectively in hUMA as extracting parallelism in existing code is hard — but because it shows that AMD hasn’t outgrown its former self. CEO Rory Read has done some amazing things reforming the company, but it looks like you can’t un-teach an old dog its usual tricks.