Spectre protection baked in next year courtesy of Zen 2
Things continue to go well at AMD, as shown in the company’s latest financial results, with the firm also talking about cranking up the supply of graphics cards in the face of the current shortage, as well as baking in solutions for Spectre into Zen 2 chips.
The headline figure for Q4 (2017) revenue was $1.48 billion (around £1.05 billion, AU$1.85 billion), up 24% year-on-year, with computing and graphics (CPUs and GPUs) raking in $985 million (around £695 million, AU$1.2 billion), up a mighty 60% on the previous year. Impressive indeed.
Ryzen is still selling well and driving a lot of this success, although there was a very slight blip in terms of average selling prices (ASPs) remaining flat and the same as the last quarter (although still up year-on-year) – that was due to sales of Ryzen 3 CPUs. The latter are going well, but these are cheaper models, so they’re something of a headwind for that ASP.
AMD doesn’t produce separate figures for GPUs, lumping them together with processors in the computing and graphics division, but there have been question marks over how Vega is performing. These mainly revolve around flaky supply of the cards, particularly in the face of the current mining mania (with cryptocurrency miners buying up many powerful and even mid-range cards of late).
Dr. Lisa Su, AMD’s chief executive, noted the latter issue, and made a point of saying that the firm is busy ramping up GPU production, which will definitely be music to gamers’ ears.
Su further explained that the problem in producing more graphics cards is actually down to the memory side of things, with GDDR5 and HBM shortages being the primary bottleneck right now. It’s good to hear that the situation is apparently changing, though, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Graphics card prices are getting pretty ridiculous right now.
Another hot topic of the moment – the huge Spectre flaw which affects a whole gamut of processors including AMD’s – was also addressed, with Su stating that AMD will be baking in protection with the forthcoming Zen 2 processors.
Zen 2, which uses an improved 7nm process, is apparently now just past the design phase, but actual CPUs won’t be available until next year (according to what AMD has previously said).
On the other hand, Intel is claiming that it will have Spectre (and Meltdown – which only pertains to Intel’s chips) defenses baked into its processors later this year. In that respect, Intel appears to be ahead of the game, although the current status of patching for the chip giant is wobbly to say the least.