AMD’s GPU and CPU Market Share Reported to Fall Further in Q1 2016 – Polaris and Zen To Change Trend if Launched Timely

Hassan Mujtaba

AMD might be looking forward to another bad quarter as their GPU and CPU market share is expected to fall further in Q1 2016. The report comes from Digitimes who have received information from sources close to the tech industry that a weaker PC market and lower than anticipated demand for Radeon cards, AMD's market share will hit a new low in the current quarter and is expected to fall until the launch of new and competitive products based on their Zen and Polaris architecture.

AMD CPU and GPU Market Share Might Fall Further in Q1 2016 Due To Weak PC Market and Low Demand For AMD Products

The last few quarters have been pretty harsh to AMD in which they lost a major chunk on their market share to competitors. To put things into perspective, AMD witnessed a loss in revenue of 28% during 2015 compared to 2014, their graphics cards (Radeon 300 and Fury Series), although being competitive against competitors didn't capture any significant market share and their desktop lineup has seen only refreshes based on the older cores (Piledriver). Despite a weaker PC market, both Intel and NVIDIA managed to report revenue growth while AMD reported a major decline in revenue and their market share is expected to fall further as next gen products are going to launch in late Q2/Q3 2016. The exact quotes from Digitimes are provided below:

Demand for standalone graphics cards has already been sluggish given a weak PC market, and the market for standalone graphics cards continues to decline. In the already-shrinking market, AMD's rival Nvidia has eaten away at its market share, the sources indicated.

In the PC processor market, AMD's gap behind Intel has widened. And it remains uncertain whether AMD's next-generation Zen architecture can help the company make a comeback, industry sources noted.

In the standalone GPU segment, AMD will have to ensure that the launch of its Polaris architecture will be on schedule, the sources suggested. Any delays of the launch or performance issues could interrupt its way to recovery, the sources said. via Digitimes

It is clear that for AMD to come back with a bang, they should timely launch their next gen products based on their Zen and Polaris architecture. AMD is expected to deliver Polaris GPUs on schedule however same could not be said for their Zen processors the industry believes might not be able to hit market in Q4 2016.

AMD has previously reported that they will start shipping Zen in late 2016 followed by first full year revenue in 2017. The site mentions that AMD's Bristol Ridge and Summit Ridge families for AM4 platform may not help AMD much in regaining their market share from Intel but will put somewhat pressure on Intel when getting on terms with PC firms, most probably in OEM space.

One of the main reasons we could see why the 300 series, regardless of their competitive pricing didn't turn out to be a success for AMD was due to the late launch of the cards. The Radeon 300 series was launched 9 months after the first Maxwell cards hit the market.

Even though the 300 series mostly reused last gen cores on the 390, 380, 370 and 360 series GPUs, the late launch meant that most of consumers had already made shift to a readily available card in the form of GeForce 900 series. AMD's Fiji based products with HBM not only launched months after the 300 series cards but since start, the R9 Fury X didn't seem to offer greater benefits over the GTX 980 TI which was available at the same price.

AMD has so far showed their muscles in DirectX 12 optimized titles thanks to an Async ready GCN architecture while NVIDIA still works on driver support for the new API. On the DirectX 11 front, the Radeon cards didn't push out as much optimizations at a much needed pace for 2015's AAA titles compared to GeForce cards. We saw a glimpse of the Radeon cards performance with the AOTS benchmark yesterday which shattered the GTX cards but AAA titles with DirectX 12 optimizations are yet to hit the retail and are only available in either BETA or Alpha state at the moment. NVIDIA has on one hand emphasized a lot of their efforts on game ready drivers rather than BETA or Alpha drivers which could be one reason why they still not have drivers out in the market.

Some of the blockbuster titles were bundled with GeForce 900 series cards which made them seem more appealing to consumers such as The Division, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed: Syndicate, Rainbow Six Siege, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Witcher 3, Batman Arkham Knight, Far Cry 4, The Crew, Assassins Creed: Unity and even Fallout 4 as a part of AIB driven promotions. AMD also ran several bundle promos that were run for a limited time and featured Dirt Rally, Star Citizen (On Purchase of entire OEM system), Star Wars: Battlefront and the upcoming Hitman.

Regardless, AMD has to face heat from all corners in 2016, their Polaris GPUs will be facing the Pascal chips which are to be introduced at GTC 2016 and their Zen family is going to tackle both Broadwell-E and Kaby Lake chips from Intel, launching in Q2 2016 and 2H 2016 respectively. For AMD to make a perfect comeback, they will have to time their products right without any delays that may hurt the market growth around the product in long term.

AMD Polaris GPUs in Mid-2016 To Power Next-Gen Radeon 400 Series Graphics

AMD Polaris 8

The one family which everyone expects to be a game changer for AMD is Polaris and AMD has placed some really high bets on their next generation, 14nm FinFET based GPU architecture. AMD Polaris GPUs will have two chips, known as Polaris 11 and Polaris 10. In their presentation, AMD has touted Polaris to feature 2.5x performance per watt compared to their 28nm GCN architecture along with a redesigned architecture that focuses on improving their geometry and tessellation performance.

14nm FinFET Technology
14LPE – Early time-to-market version with area and power benefits for mobility applications

14LPP – Enhanced version with higher performance and lower power; a full platform offering with MPW, IP enablement and wide application coverage

We know this from AMD that Polaris will be arriving in mid of 2016. This places the launch ideally in June 2016. June sees two major events, Computex and E3. Last year, AMD introduced their Radeon 300 series cards at E3 2015 at a conference collaborated by PCGamer. This year could see a similar event as the last one was met with great response. During the same time, NVIDIA is expected to have their own Pascal GTX GeForce launch. Now we know that AMD is using the 400 series naming scheme on an upcoming set of mobility graphics cards but those cards are not Polaris based as they fall in Q2 2016 and not mid-2016 that is the planned availability date set for Polaris GPUs. Still, it is a given that AMD will be using the Radeon 400 series branding for their Polaris GPUs arriving in June.


Next up, we have the architecture. Polaris incorporates a lot of improvements. There's a reason AMD is getting 2.5x performance per watt out of these chips. The new 14nm FinFET node is one reason, updated architecture and ISA are another. Known as GCN 4.0, Polaris embeds within its core, a primitive discard accelerator, hardware scheduler, instruction pre-fetch, improved shader block and memory compression algorithms. The GPUs also incorporate new display engine capabilities with HDMI 2.0 functionality finally coming to Radeon users and DP 1.3. Multimedia engines are updated with h.265 4K decode and 4K 60 FPS encode.

Another key enabling technology that will be featured on the flagship Polaris chips would be HBM2. The latest standard in the high-bandwidth memory architecture will allow GPUs to feature vast pools of VRAM on a very compact chip that will also consumer lower power than traditionally used GDDR5 chips leading to improved efficiency of the entire chip. AMD already has some really compact solutions based on their high-end GPUs that are available in the market and that tradition would be kept alive with the successor of the Fiji cards. Expect to see the GPUs in action during GDC and Computex 2016. AMD expects to regain a portion of market share in the discrete GPU market from NVIDIA with Polaris GPUs however right now, NVIDIA's market share has gone past 80% according to several reports from within the industry, including Jon Peddie Research.

AMD Polaris GCN 4.0 Block Diagram:

AMD Polaris 15

Flagship GPUVega 10Navi 10NVIDIA GP100NVIDIA GV100
GPU Process14nm FinFET7nm FinFETTSMC 16nm FinFETTSMC 12nm FinFET
GPU Transistors15-18 BillionTBC15.3 Billion21.1 Billion
GPU Cores (Max)4096 SPsTBC3840 CUDA Cores5376 CUDA Cores
Peak FP32 Compute13.0 TFLOPsTBC12.0 TFLOPs>15.0 TFLOPs (Full Die)
Peak FP16 Compute25.0 TFLOPsTBC24.0 TFLOPs120 Tensor TFLOPs
Memory (Consumer Cards)HBM2HBM3GDDR5XGDDR6
Memory (Dual-Chip Professional/ HPC)HBM2HBM3HBM2HBM2
HBM2 Bandwidth484 GB/s (Frontier Edition)>1 TB/s?732 GB/s (Peak)900 GB/s
Graphics ArchitectureNext Compute Unit (Vega)Next Compute Unit (Navi)5th Gen Pascal CUDA6th Gen Volta CUDA
Successor of (GPU)Radeon RX 500 SeriesRadeon RX 600 SeriesGM200 (Maxwell)GP100 (Pascal)

AMD Zen CPUs in Late 2016 To Power Next-Gen Summit Ridge Family

AMD Zen Summit Ridge CPUs

The Summit Ridge family is now officially confirmed by AMD in their latest roadmaps. The family will feature a range of processors based on the latest Zen core architecture. This core will be deployed in the high-end CPUs known as the FX Series. The Summit Ridge family is the official update to the Vishera family that was built upon the Piledriver core. Launched in 2012, the Vishera family replaced the Zambezi family which featured the AMD Bulldozer core architecture. After Piledriver, the FX series didn’t receive any update as AMD’s Steamroller and Excavator cores were aimed at the mainstream audience leaving the enthusiasts to stick to their older CPUs or move to Intel to feed their high-end needs.

That is going to change in late 2016 as AMD is bringing the high-end back to enthusiasts in the form of Summit Ridge FX CPUs. In answering a question to one of the journalists during the earnings, Lisa stated that AMD will be working with several OEMs  to bring Zen based PCs in the market later this year and have already closed in some design wins with the Zen processors while internally working with OEMs. Summit Ridge will be aiming the consumer DIY and OEM markets, feeding the needs high-performance needs of AMD fans. AMD has stated that Summit Ridge CPUs will mark their “re-entry” in the high-performance desktop market.

Yes, so Hans, overall the Zen design win, we have been engaged very early on with you know large OEM and cloud providers on the Zen design point and the platforms that would be useful for Zen. So we have closed our first design win, we are working you know very closely with these OEM partners to make sure that they bring up their platforms concurrently with our own design validation and testing. I think the main message is we are on track with the schedule that we previously discussed in terms of sampling this year. We will introduce first in desktop and so we are having conversations with some of the PC OEMs about getting their platforms ready for desktop and then we will go into enterprise server first full year in 2017.

We have secured several key design wins with global OEMs for our Zen based service CPU and believe we can rapidly reestablish our presence in the datacenter when we bring our new products to market in 2017. AMD via SeekingAlpha

The latest Zen based Summit Ridge family will be based on the new 14nm FinFET architecture which will feature a totally revised architecture design, offering high core count, Simultaneous Multi-threading Support (SMT), High-Bandwidth and low latency cache which is similar to the eDRAM solutions found on Intel CPUs.

Samsung/GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET Technology

Our 14nm FinFET ramp is exceeding plan with best-in-class yield and defect density. The early-access version of the technology (14LPE) was qualified in January and is well on its way to volume production, meeting yield targets on lead customer products. The performance-enhanced version of the technology (14LPP) is set for qualification in the second half of 2015, with the volume ramp beginning in early 2016. Prototyping on test vehicles has demonstrated excellent logic and SRAM yields and performance at near 100% of target.

The Summit Ridge FX CPUs family will be supported on the latest AM4 motherboards that will feature latest I/O compatibility and DDR4 memory support. The AM4 motherboards will be housing the latest Promontory PCH which will allow SATA Express/NVMe and USB 3.1 support. The same AM4 socket motherboards will be able to support the upcoming Bristol Ridge processors which are another critical family for AMD in the desktop and mobility space. Based on a refined version of the Carrizo SOCs, the Excavator powered APUs and CPUs will be aimed at performance oriented laptops on the FP4 platform and mainstream / budget desktop PCs.

WCCFTechAMD Summit RidgeAMD Bristol RidgeAMD FX "8000 Series"AMD A-Series "7000/8000-Series"
Product SegmentPerformance Desktop Processors "FX"Mainstream Desktop and Mobility APUPerformance Desktop Processors "FX"Mainstream Processors "Kaveri/Godavari"
Product Architecturex86 Zenx86 Excavatorx86 Bulldozer/Piledriverx86 Steamroller
Process Node14nm28nm32nm28nm
Max CPU Cores8484
GPU ArchitectureNoneGCN 3.0NoneSea Islands GCN
South BridgePromontoryPromontory/SOCSB950A78/A88X
North BridgeOn-dieOn-die990FXBoard
Memory SupportDDR4DDR3/DDR4DDR3DDR3
LaunchQ4 20162H 20162011-20162013-2016

AMD’s Next Generation Zen Powered Opteron CPUs Aiming At The 2017 Release Window – Expected To Address 80% of Server Market

AMD Zen Opteron APU CPU

AMD also wants to establish their foots back in the server market which has long seen no action from the chip maker. With Zen, AMD will be launching new Opteron chips sometime in 2017 with huge  amount of cores and several technologies such as HBM2, DDR4 DRAMs and coherent interconnects to meet demands of the server and datacenter markets. In a question asked on the performance of AMD’s upcoming Opteron processors, the company assured that they expect Zen powered chips will be capable enough to address the demands of 80% of the server market.

Okay and then as a follow up, what kind of performance point should we look at your initial Zen in the server space, is it Xeon E3 class type products or E5s or maybe you can help with some granularity there if you can?

Yes, we believe that we’ll be able to address let’s call it you know 80% of the server CPU market with our Zen class of products. So that’s a very high end but you know really the meat of the market. AMD via SeekingAlpha

During a session hosted by CERN, it was stated, AMD will be building their next generation Opteron processors with their Zen core architecture. The new Zen core is based on the 14nm FinFET technology that is being built developed by Global Foundries and is expected to deliver up to 40% IPC (Instructions per clock) improvement. The other key point mentioned is that the Opteron processors will feature up to 32 physical cores. All 32 cores are based on the Zen architecture and will feature SMT (Symmetrical Multi-Threading) which brings the AMD design closer to Intel’s design as they have been using Hyper threading for quite some time. The technology works is a similar way, albeit with some AMD added enhancements/tweaks.

Okay and then as a follow up, what kind of performance point should we look at your initial Zen in the server space, is it Xeon E3 class type products or E5s or maybe you can help with some granularity there if you can?

Yes, we believe that we’ll be able to address let’s call it you know 80% of the server CPU market with our Zen class of products. So that’s a very high end but you know really the meat of the market. AMD via SeekingAlpha

Lastly, support for 8 channel DDR4 memory and PCI-e Gen 3.0 was mentioned. Eight channel sounds like a step up for AMD. AMD’s Opteron platform is expected to hit shelves later in 2017 while Intel has their Broadwell-EP platform launching in Q1 2016. AMD’s platform will be competing by then with Intel’s Purley platform that has Skylake-EP stacked up against it. While AMD’s Opteron platform looks decent enough against Broadwell-EP as it has 32 cores versus 22 on Intel, support for 8 channel DDR4 versus 4 channel DDR4 on Intel and a fast inter connect fabric, things might shape up more interesting with 2017’s Purley which brings Intel’s latest micro-arch codenamed Skylake to the enterprise market.

Nevertheless, AMD believes that they can address 80% of the server market with their Zen powered Opteron processors. Zen powered Opteron are going to play a vital role in bringing AMD back on foot in the datacenter market which has long remained conquered by Intel and their high-performance Xeon chips.

Product FamilyIntel Xeon E5-2600/4600 V4AMD Opteron "Zen"Intel Xeon E5-2600/4600 V5
Family BrandingBroadwell-EPNext Generation Opteron (Name TBC)Skylake-EP
Process Node14nm FinFET14nm FinFET14nm FinFET
Xeon/Opteron PlatformIntel GrantleyAMD OpteronIntel Purley
PCHC610 SeriesTBCLewisburg PCH
SocketSocket R3TBCSocket P
InterconnectN/A100 GB/s AMD Coherent FabricStorm Lake Gen1
Max Core Count2232 MCM Package26 (TBC)
Max Thread Count446452 (TBC)
Max L3 Cache55 MBTBC65 MB (TBC)
Max PCI-Express Lanes40 PCI-E Gen3128 PCI-E Gen348 PCI-E Gen3
DDR4 Memory Support4-Channel DDR48-Channel DDR46-Channel DDR4
TDP Range55-145WTBC45-160W
Launch ExpectedQ1 201620171H 2017
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