Monday, 10 August 2020 10:39

AMD overcoming Intel inertia, says MD


Corporate buyers are increasingly taking AMD-powered systems into consideration, the company's regional managing director has told iTWire.

You probably buy your morning coffee from the same cafe each day. Your current smartphone is probably the same brand as its predecessor. And when you buy bread, you probably go to your usual baker or pick up the usual brand at the supermarket. Something has to happen before you change things like that.

So it shouldn't be surprising that something similar occurs with corporate PC purchasing – not just as far as the brand on the outside is concerned, but also the CPU inside.

As AMD APJ managing director for sales Peter Chambers puts it, "there's a lot of muscle memory [involved]."

Even though AMD has been in business for more than 50 years – it was founded less than a year after Intel – when it came to x86 and x86-64 CPUs for desktops, notebooks and servers, "the competitor was the default," he said.

AMD has been very competitive at the entry level for some time, but the 2017 introduction of the Ryzen series "was the inflection point" that gave the company a top-to-bottom lineup.

Technological advance tends to be a game of leapfrog, he said, but right now AMD has a "leading edge" notebook CPU with eight cores and 16 threads that gets work done faster for the same price, desktop CPUs with up to 16 cores, and the 64-core Threadripper Pro workstation CPU that avoids the cost and complexity of a two-socket motherboard.

These products allow customers to save time, for example by rendering a movie scene in half the time, or to simply get more performance for the same price – not to mention other benefits including better security and better battery life.

Chambers sees the current challenges as being to build mindshare, and to build confidence in the AMD roadmap through consistent execution.

The way to do the former is to give decision-makers hands-on experience with the products, so they can see the AMD range offers comparable or better performance – depending on the workload – to their Intel equivalents.

AMD is working to build mindshare through its OEM and systems integrator partners, as well as putting its own recently enlarged sales organisation to work on the issue.

This is being done through traditional (though mostly online) marketing efforts, and by running workshops and round tables that are highly specific to particular verticals. In the current environment, these sessions are being held online, and they attract anything from 10 to 1000 people.

"It's helping us spread the word... and reach more folks," Chambers told iTWire, adding that work is underway to make these events more engaging and interactive, and even more focussed.

The strategy seems to be paying off, as he claims that sales are growing at double-digit rates in all verticals, and faster than the market as a whole.

The message to people on the technology side of a potential customer is that AMD has "levelled up the bar," while those on the procurement side are told "competition is good."

Any lack of awareness is not peculiar to any one market segment, and once AMD is taken into consideration by a buyer, it has a "propensity to win," he said.

Fortunately for AMD, requests for quotation (RFQs) are generally less prescriptive than they have been during other periods, specifying certain performance characteristics rather than a particular CPU. And even when a specific CPU is mentioned, there's often an "or equivalent" rider.

"They're recognising there is more than one player," he observed.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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