AMD said to outsource chipsets R&D to ASMedia

AMD logoAMD reportedly is planning to outsource its PC chipset R&D to ASMedia Technology, a subsidiary of Asustek Computer, to save costs and the cooperation is expected to greatly benefit ASMedia's revenue performance, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

AMD responded to the report by stating it does not comment on market speculation.

Digitimes previously reported that AMD is planning to cooperate with ASMedia to integrate transmission interfaces such as SATA Express onto its next-generation platform, but the partnership may advance further with an outsourcing of the whole chipset R&D. However, since most PC chipset functionality has already been integrated into the CPU, outsourcing chipset R&D to ASMedia should help AMD save costs and resources and allows the CPU maker to focus on developing APU and semi-customized products, the sources said.

In May, Digitimes reported that AMD plans to establish the partnership with ASMedia by having the Taiwan-based IC design house share its SATA Express silicon intellectual property (SIP) or by having AMD acquire licenses from ASMedia.

The partnership between the two firms could make sense for motherboard players and system integrators because the cooperation in theory could save them costs and time, as they would not need to purchase chips from third-party chipmakers. The benefit for AMD would be that it would have strong integration within its platform, which would help attract demand from partners and relatively strengthen the competitiveness of its APU and graphics card products.

Another potential benefit for AMD could be in strengthening the relationship between the CPU maker and Asustek, as the president of ASMedia is also in charge of Asustek's motherboard purchasing and R&D.

The thread of AMD looking to develop closer relationships with IT players in Asia has been ongoing in 2014. Earlier this year Digitimes reported that AMD was considering moving its desktop business headquarters from the US to Beijing to strengthen its competitiveness in China's DIY channel. Through the move, the company plans to tighten its relationship with Lenovo, sources from the upstream supply chain noted at that time.

If all of these changes come about for AMD, the company is expected to re-arrange related R&D teams and personnel, which has also been an ongoing endeavor for the company. Commenting on changes at the company earlier this year, AMD Taiwan noted that the company will distribute resources fairly among each department in order to meet market demand.

In terms of demand, AMD has been hit hard by the slowdown in the notebook and desktop market over the past few years. According to market research firm IC Insights, the company's total MPU revenues plunged 21% in both 2012 and 2013. AMD's 2013 microprocessor sales (excluding stand-alone graphics processors) fell to US$2.8 billion, which represented 4.8% of total MPU sales in 2013 compared to its previous market shares of 6.4% in 2012 and 8.2% in 2011. AMD remained in fourth place among MPU suppliers in 2013.

According to Digitimes Research, AMD has been gradually reducing its involvement in the notebook industry, and in the first quarter of this year, AMD-based notebook shipments from Taiwan makers dropped sharply by almost 30% sequentially and shipments are not expected to see significant improvements in the second quarter.

On the other hand, the company's desktop business has always been stable with an overall market share at around 25%. In the DIY channel, AMD's share has already surpassed 30% and in China, the percentage even reached 40%, according to the sources in the upstream supply chain.

In terms of new products, during Computex 2014, AMD introduced its new Kaveri-based A series APUs for ultra-thin and conventional notebooks. The APUs have up to 12 compute cores (four CPU plus eight GPU) and support Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) and ultra HD resolutions. AMD also announced products for the embedded market: G series SoC solutions (Steppe Eagle) and G series CPU solutions (Crowned Eagle).

However, in terms of where the company may see its long-term added value, AMD gave the market insight about a month ago when it announced Project SkyBridge, a design framework for products to be made available in 2015 that feature a new family of 20nm APUs and SoCs that will be what AMD claims are the world's first pin-compatible ARM and x86 processors.

The 64-bit ARM variant of Project SkyBridge will be based on the ARM Cortex-A57 core and is AMD's first HSA platform for Android. The x86 variant will feature next-generation "Puma+" CPU cores. The company is also developing its K12 high-performance, low-power ARM-based core that are planned for introduction in 2016.

As for ASMedia, any orders from AMD would expand its client base and profitability and will also give the parent company Asustek technology advantages in the AMD-based motherboard industry, pumping up its shipment performance. The cooperation is also expected to give Asustek more bargaining power with Intel.

Source: DigiTimes

Tags: AMD, chipsets

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