Origin PC CEO denies claims that Nvidia paid for AMD to be dropped, maintains that sales and technical support difficulties were the reason for “going green”.
In an interview with Bright Side of News‘ Anshel Sag, Kevin Wasielewski, the CEO of Origin PC, has shed some light on his company’s decision to no longer offer AMD GPUs in its PCs.
In early October Origin PC announced to the press via email blast that it was “going green” and no longer offering AMD GPUs (though AMD’s CPUs would still be available). Its rationale for dropping AMD was at the time sparse, saying this decision was based on “issues” with AMD and the preferences of Origin PC’s own customers, which led to accusations that Nvidia was paying the company to drop AMD video cards — which could amount to charges of anti-competitive behavior from regulators.
Although the cost-benefit ratio of engaging in a business practice that would earn the ire of trade and securities regulators to secure hegemony in a low-volume boutique sector would deter most executives, this conspiracy theory has remained popular amongst a certain subset of the hardware press.
But Wasielewski’s story is much more mundane and procedural.
“Our support staff specifically requested to drop AMD GPUs…It’s not just failures it’s a high percentage of issues,” Wasielewski said to BSN*. “When new products launched we would not get them in a timely manner and we had to juggle the possibility of having to risk launch just to remain up to date on our site (we never did and instead launched late). Support from AMD graphics to Origin PC felt unorganized and forced.”
Wasielewski also touched on the reason for sending out a press release announcing that Origin PC was dropping AMD, explaining that this was not the first time his company had dropped a major vendor — but it was the first time it had dropped a GPU supplier.
“This is the first time we (or anyone that we know of) has decided to drop a GPU provider so we thought it was newsworthy,” he said.
After AMD’s #gpu14, Wasielewski said there was another episode of communication breakdown between AMD and Origin PC. While Origin PC wasn’t at the event in Honolulu, AMD did provide the company with information on the announcements made at the event. Trouble arose when Origin PC requested a sample card for testing.
Wasielewski said that the card received by his company was a single low end card (he didn’t specify which one). For a company specializing in building high-end gaming PCs, this sample wasn’t much use.
“When we requested higher end cards we were told two cards would arrive on a specific date. That date came and went. Nothing arrived. No phone call. No email. Nothing,” he said. “Just another example of one of many, many instances of poor communication. This happened before our decision to drop AMD.”
While unfair business practices and securities fraud are not uncommon in the technology sector, the firms who have engage in such practices are often doing so as a rational actor — that is the payoff they expect is greater than the expected cost. The antitrust saga of 2004-2005 between AMD and Intel that played out in U.S. Supreme Court is a good example: Intel executives thought that the risk of possibly going to court over trying to shut AMD out of the OEM market through anti competitive behavior was worth the expected financial payoffs.
But the financial win of having a boutique computer manufacturer exclusively use Nvidia GPUs at the risk of punitive measures from regulators isn’t big enough. The payoff wouldn’t be there. You don’t have to be a an expert in game theory to see that at best a Pyrrhic victory would result from this game of graphics cards.
As Origin PC’s co-founder, Richard Cary, said in an earlier posting “[A] conspiracy is exciting, and everyone loves controversy. The reality is, it’s nothing that exciting.”
Source: Bright Side of News