AMD wants to be clear: 'We have the fastest GPUs'
15th Feb 2013 | 22:17
New series out by the end of the year
For non-gamers and enthusiasts, talk of GPUs can seem like an impenetrable slurry of chip names with more numbers than seem necessary, clock speeds and endless codenames.
AMD cut through all that Friday morning in a call with journalists during which it cleaned up some confusion on its products and laid out its graphics plans for 2013, all the while offering some choice words in case anyone thought the chip maker would lay down at its competitors' feet.
For starters: AMD will launch a new GPU series by the end of the year, a top-to-bottom group of chips that will move away from than its current Radeon HD 7000 series for desktops. AMD is aiming for before 2014, so don't expect anything truly different until Q4 at the earliest.
Until then, the company will stick with the 7000 family, adding new members to it throughout the year. Several "robust" enhancements are expected by the middle of 2013.
Preparing for battle
Now, for the juicy parts: AMD apparently struggles from a self-promotion problem.
"I don't believe we've been strong enough in making it clear that we have the fastest GPUs," said Roy Taylor, corporate vice president and head of Global Channel Sales for AMD. "We'll wait and see what Nvidia comes back at us with, but we believe we will maintain leadership."
Taylor was responding to an indirect question about Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan GPU, which several reports say will launch on Feb. 18. A leak on TechPowerUp has the Titan clocked at 875MHz, though that number won't be final until it's officially released.
Although AMD's top-end 7970 clocks at 925Mhz, attention as of late has been slathered on its competitor.
Slowing PC sales are hurting the GPU landscape in general, however, Nvidia reportedly claimed it captured 63 percent of the graphics market in fiscal year 2013 - up by 12 percent from the year before.
AMD aims to meet its surging competitor head on.
"I'm absolutely for bringing back the old wars," Taylor said. "We want to take [competitors] on again and we want people to understand we have the fastest products. I don't believe the readership of all the journalists on the line has had that clearly explained to them."
To back that up, AMD noted in a follow up email after the call that two of its 7970 GPUs power the Asus' Ares line, making the products the fastest graphics cards in the world.
Time to clarify
AMD took the time to lay out what Sea Islands, an internal codename that's caused head scratches and second guessing in the processor community, really means. The term refers to a roadmap for desktop and notebook graphics products targeted mainly to OEM partners, in case you were wondering.
While many have noted that AMD's product cycle has slowed as of late, Taylor explained that the company is taking a repositioning approach - informing customers of its chip prowess before introducing a new line.
A massive part of AMD's plan has been to partner with AAA game developers to offer software and hardware bundles like the "Never Settle: Reloaded" package, which offers games like Crysis 3, BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider with the purchase of Radeon HD 7800 and Radeon HD 7900 cards.
The strategy may be working - according to the AMD officials, sales of the 7000, which was introduced in 2011, increased in January and February.
Taylor tried to bury the speculation that AMD is stalling for time until it comes up with something better.
"There's too much ambiguity here," he said, referring to the shaded speak between journalists and other AMD execs on Friday's call. "We have products. We have a roadmap. We are not announcing them right now because we want to reposition the products we have.
"We are unafraid, we don't lack resources, we don't lack imagination and we have new products," he continued. "We have GPU leadership."