Since AMD’s earnings call, we’ve been wondering how they would be able to continue on the trajectory of profitability that they hope to have. The places where AMD can really regain some profitability are clearly in the professional graphic business where Nvidia has consistently been making the majority of their profit from. Nvidia also has a significantly greater market share in professional graphics than AMD does and this is partially reflected in their earnings. Because, without professional graphics Nvidia is most likely not a profitable company.
Now, AMD has the fortune of winning all three consoles’ GPU designs as well as the two most important consoles’ CPU designs as well. Admittedly, the margin on these parts is not that great, but there is enough volume that it helped push AMD forward into profitability. Now, with AMD’s clear need to push harder into professional graphics (FirePro) and part of that push is through having the right products and the right people. AMD moved a step closer towards having the right people with their hiring of former Teradici and Nvidia employee Nick Pandher. As per a statement given to us by none other than Ed Caracappa, ?Director of Global Sales & Business Development for Professional Graphics, "As AMD is continuing to make big investments in developing the market for GPUs in servers, in October of 2013, AMD announced they had hired JC Baratault away from NVIDIA to run the Compute segment of their business. Today AMD?s Professional Graphics team scored another major coup with the hiring of Nick Pandher from Teradici to run the Cloud segment of their Professional Graphics business. This will be a global role for Nick who will be able to utilize his 20+ years of experience in graphics to help AMD continue to take share in this fast growing market."
AMD’s hiring of Nick actually occurred around 2 weeks ago, and could mark a new year and a new beginning for their cloud segment of their professional graphics business. If you think about it, this is the perfect place for someone with Nick’s expertise to be placed within any company because he already has a lot of the relationships and connections with many of Teradici’s partners. For those unfamiliar with Teradici, they are an enterprise provider of PCoIP technology which allows you to stream a professional workstation from a server in a secure location to virtually any thin client in the world. Most of what Teradici does is either cloud related or has a very close relationship with cloud and it will be interesting to see where he takes AMD’s cloud professional graphics solutions in 2014.
AMD’s current lineup of cloud-capable graphics cards includes the FirePro S10000 (a dual GPU card very similar to the Radeon HD 7990) and the FirePro S9000 which is similar to the Radeon R9 280X. There is also the FirePro S7000, V9800P, V7800P. What will be interesting will be to see whether he will be able to help AMD to compete against Nvidia and their VGX solutions which are already fairly well known and have some pretty interesting applications. AMD definitely needs to do a better job of marketing their cloud professional GPUs because as of right now many of their GPUs seem a little bit stale. They haven’t even talked much, if at all, about their Sky series of GPUs which include the Sky 900, Sky 700 and Sky 500, which are specifically designed for game streaming.
The FirePro S10000, for example was announced back at SC12 in November of 2012, which would make this GPU over 14 months old. I’m sure AMD already has something in the works for Siggraph with their new Hawaii GPU at the heart of things, but I think AMD needs to seriously consider the intangibles and their overall marketing in the professional graphics market. Thankfully for them, Nick already appears to have some pretty good credentials in ISV and partner relations, so they actually have a chance of launching a new card and having good sales of it as well. After all, these professional cards sell in the thousands of dollars, something that AMD knows that they wish they could do with most of their GPUs.
We’ll be watching AMD’s professional graphics segment very closely this year and we’ll be following any major announcements very closely. We’re still a ways away from Siggraph, but I suspect we could hear something from them as soon as GDC, perhaps being Mantle related.