AMD published their take on the new FX series in a blog on their website. Obviously it’s a bit of an apologetic piece. I am disappointed that it was not written by John Fruehe however. Sure, he may want to hide behind the fact that he’s working for the server/workstation division again, but that never stopped him when desktop Bulldozers were discussed on consumer forums. No, after all the lies he spread on forums everywhere, John Fruehe is now entirely silent, and lets other people do the dirty work for him. Bad form John, very bad form!
Anyway, moving on with the contents of this blog, I’m not entirely sure if they are aware of it themselves, but they explain their mistake, if you put the following two passages together:
In our design considerations, AMD focused on applications and environments that we believe our customers use – and which we expect them to use in the future. The architecture focuses on high-frequency and resource sharing to achieve optimal throughput and speed in next generation applications and high-resolution gaming.
If you are running lightly threaded apps most of the time, then there are plenty of other solutions out there. But if you’re like me and use your desktop for high resolution gaming and want to tackle time intensive tasks with newer multi-threaded applications, the AMD FX processor won’t let you down.
So there you have it: What AMD believed its customers want is ‘time intensive tasks with newer multi-threaded applications’, instead of ‘running lightly threaded apps most of the time’.
If that is what really happened, then clearly AMD is completely out-of-touch with what their customers want. I could have told you that customers will generally mostly use lightly-threaded apps. And yes, most games fall in that category, resolution has little to do with that. Higher resolutions may make you GPU-limited, but that doesn’t make your CPU any more of a game-oriented design… next year’s GPUs may no longer be limited at the same resolutions, and you won’t have a new CPU architecture ready when that happens. With today’s GPUs in SLI/CrossFire setup, Bulldozer is already in trouble.
In fact, I *did* tell you on various occasions that single-threaded performance is still the most important factor (given that we can get at least 4 cores onto any modern CPU die, so we have multi-threading covered well enough). So I wonder then, where did you go wrong, AMD? I’m not the only person in the world who knows this. Plently of experienced (assembly) programmers should be able to tell you exactly what kind of CPU is required for most software. So I wonder: do you just not have skilled software people on your team? And if so, why did you never hire them, or at least talk to software developers from some of the larger development companies? Or if you do, then why do we not see any of their input in the final result? Is this a problem caused by management?
Surely AMD can not be so naive as to think that an architecture can be a success if it can not run current and older software well enough? Intel tried that with both the Pentium 4 and the Itanium. Both were cases of CPUs that could run current and older x86 code, but were not very good at it, often not even as good as their predecessors. They only showed their full potential in specifically optimized applications, but in the consumer market, not enough of such applications surfaced, so the CPUs never really overcame their performance problems. So I wonder who at AMD could possibly have thought that they could pull it off, when Intel cannot?
The closing statement then is hard to believe:
We are a company committed to our customers and we’re constantly listening and working to improve our products. Please let us know what questions you have and we’ll do our best to respond.
If you are really committed to your customers, you’re doing it wrong. But I think it’s more of a case of a company that is NOT concerned about customers at all. They are just developing products in their own isolated world, and think that “If we build it, they will come”. We’ve seen the same on the GPU side, where OpenCL has yet to take off (not to mention GPU-accelerated physics). Meanwhile nVidia is actively working with developers to support CUDA, and it pays off: major applications such as Adobe PhotoShop and Premiere have CUDA acceleration. That is what customers want.