AMD launches memory line in the worst way possible

Bad ideas wrapped in insulting marketing for zero upside

AMD Radeon 63x53 AMD launches memory line in the worst way possibleAMD (NYSE:AMD) marketing has been dropping the ball rather painfully of late, and with the re-launch of their memory, they did it again. It is hard to come up with enough superlatives to explain this stupidity, but bear with us while we try.

First the technical side of things, AMD is launching memory, DDR3 DIMMs to be specific. Luckily, there was no real technical data given out in their slides or the release, just 2, 4, and 8GB DIMMs in 1333, 1600, and 1866MHz. Maybe. The information was a clear as mud, is it one DIMM at 2/4/8GB or two at 1/2/4? Are all speeds available at all sizes? Damn good question. Does it matter? No, not really, there is marketing to be done!

It looks like the 1333 and 1600 speeds are available soonish, and the 1866 version some time in Q1. There are also hints at a SoDIMM version some time later. The interesting part? One slide has a DDR3/2133 SoDIMM set for Q1, so now we know what memory speeds Trinity will support, eh?

Radeon memory AMD launches memory line in the worst way possible

The one worthwhile data point

Back to the stupidity, basically AMD’s “marketing” or product naming scheme is, well, stupid. No, not DDR3/1866 or any such sane markings, they are doing the awful good/better/best marketing pablum that makes any person capable of reading printed numbers queasy. Good, AKA no real technical definition, is called Entertainment edition. Better, AKA no real technical definition, is called Performance Edition. Lastly, Best, AKA no real technical definition, is called the Radeon edition. This does leave one open question, when the 2133MHz version comes out in Q1, will it be labeled bestest, with no real technical definition? At their current rate of not launching products, I for one suggest that they call it the “Intel Edition”, that company might have something to use it with.

Noxious marketing aside, when your stomach stops gurgling over these affronts to intelligence, you might wonder why they are launching the memory now? Well, AMD isn’t, the memory was launched back in August, thankfully silently. Now, three months later, we have a big press release over a three month old product, and it now adds Patriot and Visiontek as vendors. Yay? People are excited about this? People wrote it up without sarcastic comments? Shame on them.

Non-announcements and dodged technical questions aside, there is one really interesting bit to this, but it is the same interesting bit from August when the product was released. That is why would AMD do this? That is easy, because they could, and they have been doing so for literally years. This is just an extension of their GPU memory purchasing deals, and not much more than that.

If you don’t know how GDDR tends to be purchased of late, the AIBs don’t make deals with the memory suppliers, ATI, now AMD, does. They buy GPU memory in bulk to assure low prices and theoretically high quality. These chips are bundled with a GPU ASIC and sold as a kit to AIBs with no memory markup. All AIBs get the same price, and theoretically, no one can beat AMD’s volume, so all AIBs, large and small, get a good deal. It is a win/win.

With these DIMMs there are two prevailing theories as to why AMD is putting them out, other than ‘because they can’. The first is to assure a level of quality and supply for the higher speed DIMMs that Llano and other APUs need. This is to seed the market and help the little guys who don’t get HP’s volume pricing. Fair enough, but there hasn’t really been a shortage of high speed DDR3 on the market, nor does there look to be.

The other reason is to give AIBs that don’t have a mobo wing another product to sell, and effectively allow the little guys to buy DIMMs at the same price as the big guys. The problem with this is that AMD is a nobody in the DDR3 market, and even if they supplied 50% of their CPUs with memory, would probably be undercut for pricing by the big boys. If you wanted to be rational, ask yourself what the TAM is for AMD memory in light of their CPU marketshare.

There is no real up side to the AMD DIMMs, but there are a lot of down sides. The first is that the company is cutting out some big players and ‘valued partners’. I got several earfulls about how much AMD was on the excrement euphemism list after the last launch, and banging the drum louder isn’t going to help heal any rifts.

Topping things off, AMD articulated all of zero reason why they are better than Kingston, Corsair, Crucial and the rest. In fact, they didn’t even seem to try and explain that point or give any reason why AMD DIMMs are better than any other top tier DIMM slinger. The money they make from selling memory should be pretty piddling too, so I can’t see any real reason to continue with this product line.

In the end, the AMD DIMMs are really a bad idea. In theory, there is a good reason to jump in, basically supply concerns, but Llano seems to have eased that from the other direction. From there, only down sides remain. Memory is an awful business, and AMD just jumped in while slinging mud over their friends. The only way the company could dig the hole deeper is to wrap it all in a noxious, insulting, and frankly stupid marketing message. Mission accomplished there too. Pity that the recent layoffs missed the department most sorely in need of a cull.S|A

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 AMD launches memory line in the worst way possible

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.