With money still slipping through its fingers, yet another quarter of sequential revenue decrease, slowing growth and declining sales figures, it's been another bum quarter for AMD.
With money still slipping through its fingers, yet another quarter of sequential revenue decrease, slowing growth and declining sales figures, it’s been another bum quarter for AMD.
Despite the recent optimism surrounding the little chip maker that thought it could, it’s looking more and more like the little engine that couldn’t.
And with its chips down, there’s blood in the water.
It may be an exercise in theoretical rhetoric, but with AMD shareholders getting antsy, acquisition rumors abound.
So who are the potential sharks circling, looking to snap up AMD - cheap as chips? Let’s take a look at the competitive landscape, the pros, the cons and even the far-fetched fantasies.
First on my list of potential candidates; Qualcomm, a veritable mobile chip giant, and Intel’s nemesis.
Qualcomm already acquired AMD’s handheld GPU assets (ex-ATI Imageon) back in 2008 for $65M, though it can be argued the firm hasn’t really made the best of its purchase, with Adreno still trailing rivals like graphics powerhouse, Nvidia.
Of course, Qualcomm already has its own successful in-house CPU design team for Snapdragon and no near-term plans to enter the enterprise or server space.
What AMD would give Qualcomm, however, is some increased leverage with manufacturing partners like TSMC and Globalfoundries, and with the firm seemingly looking to spread its eggs across multiple baskets for 28-nm, buying AMD might be a price worth paying.
Then, there’s south Korean giant, Samsung. The firm has already hired many of AMD’s top silicon designers to build its low-power server platform and the scenario makes sense for a number of other reasons too, not to mention that Samsung has the cash reserves to buy AMD without making even a small dent in its pocketbook.
The first advantage of such an alliance, of course, would be patents. And lots of them. If Samsung really wanted to pull its punches in its frequent spats with Apple, AMD would offer the firm a certain je ne sais quoi.
Also, with the Internet of things looming large on the horizon, it’s worth bearing in mind that Samsung doesn’t just go deep, it goes wide. Indeed, it is one of the more diverse companies out there, with a plethora of products spanning multiple markets.
Computing and graphics are two areas AMD knows well, and Samsung could apply a lot of that expertise in areas AMD currently has no foothold in, from TVs to washing machines, and Fusion/APU technology could just bridge that gap between high performance and low power computing.
For AMD, the benefit is obvious. The firm has no traction whatsoever in the world of smartphones, but with Samsung on side, the firm could literally catapult itself right to the front of the pack.
The Korean company is building its own ARM silicon for the consumer market with Exynos, but with Intel beginning to enter the smartphone fray, having an alternate x86 product with great graphics may be an attractive option for Samsung, provided the firm doesn’t mind diluting its focus a bit.
Samsung also has its own 32-nm and 28-nm production process, while AMD struggles to eke out a large enough supply of wafers from TSMC.
Looking at the bigger picture, Samsung could potentially manufacture AMD products in its own fabs, given the IBM alliance overlap. The synergies for a Samsung backed manufacturing drive are compelling, though it would take some maneuvering on Samsung’s part, because AMD is contractually obligated long term to Globalfoundries on a percentage of APU volume.
Unfortunately, Samsung tends to be averse to large mergers and acquisitions, and though the firm is often at the center of rumors, it rarely pushes the button, favoring in-house options wherever possible.
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