AMD Drops Consumer Windows Exclusivity, Targets Android, Chrome OS Devices

The world’s second largest personal computer chipmaker, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) at an interview at the 2013 Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan announced it would be ending a decade long policy of Windows exclusivity in OEM products.  

While it will continue to produce chips for the Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) operating system, which remains the world’s most used PC OS, AMD announced it will also target devices using Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Chrome OS PC or Android mobile operating systems.  Currently AMD supports system builders installing Linux on servers, desktops, and laptop machines, but its consumer face — all of its widely distributed OEM design wins — is Windows exclusive.

AMD’s move comes at a time when PC sales are posting historic percentage decreases amid poor reception of Microsoft’s latest OS, Windows 8.  Meanwhile mobile usage — particularly Android adoption — continues to soar.  The Linux kernel-based Android is creeping towards the billion device mark, an adoption base that would put it on the same level as Windows for the first time.

Intel Corp. (INTC), the top PC chipmaker jumped on the Android train some time ago (back in 2011). But the AMD campaign is unique, as the company is also plotting a transition to ARM CPU cores, potentially dumping the x86 architecture that it had championed for years alongside Intel.

AMD wants to plant its mobile seed on Android.
Prior to the ARM rollout — which will likely land sometime late next year or in 2015 — AMD is pushing out mobile-geared A4 and A6-branded processors with on-die GPUs that support DirectX 11 (on Microsoft operating systems).  The latest Fusion chips, code-named Temash will hover around 3.9 watts — a slightly thirsty mark than Intel’s upcoming 22 nm, quad-core tablet-geared Atom design(core: Silvermont; SoC: ValleyView; chipset: Bay Trail), which is targeting the 1.5 watt mark.

AMD’s Lisa Su comments, “We are very committed to Windows 8; we think it’s a great operating system, but we also see a market for Android and Chrome developing as well.”

AMD’s Lisa Su plugs Android at Computex [Image Source: PC World]
AMD has fallen considerably behind Intel in terms of single thread performance; however, it has done a good job staying reasonably competitive on the basis of price.  Thus Android, which built its empire on out pricing Apple, Inc. (AAPL), BlackBerry Ltd. (TSE:BB), and other rivals, may be the perfect target for AMD.

AMD’s Temash chip may offer a powerful budget option for Android tablet makers.
[Image Source: PC World]
The company underwent a major leadership change in 2011, dumping CEO Dirk Meyer over his unwillingness to tackle the mobile market.  Earlier this year it was reported that AMD was poaching engineers from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) and Apple, hoping to accelerate these efforts.

Windows tablets in general continue to struggle; and to boot AMD’s previous tablet chips the Z-01 and Z-60 saw deployment in only a handful of models.  Thus AMD is essentially starting from the bottom when it comes to the tablet market — and it’s eyeing the market’s second biggest player (Google) to help that bid.

Some analysts have predicted that tablets will outsell PCs by 2016 or 2017.