AMD fishes for hollow headlines with Capsaicin

Spinning masterclass with nothing of substance

2015 AMD LogoAMD is fishing for headlines with hollow teasers void of real substance. This time around it is a dual Fury GPU, a VR headset, and a VR-ready PC.

All of these things have two common themes, they are not actually available to anyone, and are only vague specs meant to grab headlines from sites that aren’t bothered by hollow BS. What is the problem with the announcements? First is that they were done with no notice to the press while being spread across a few hours of a painfully worthless ‘event’ called Capsaicin. More problematic is the content of these ‘news’ releases, or lack thereof.

AMD of late is all about grabbing social media hits as a stand-in for actual news. Social media ‘events’ are manufactured, shiny, devoid of anything but a splashy headline, and give serious outlets absolutely no chance to ask questions. This isn’t by chance. If the press actually asks questions of AMD, they will very quickly see how hollow those headlines are. AMD’s way of spinning the fact that they are shoveling crap is to do it via channels that will eat it up and smile knowing the real sites are obliged to follow or appear left out.

Take for example the dual Fury card, something that you had to have the misfortune to sit through a few hours of the AMD Capsaicin ‘event’ to hear about. What was said? The ‘release’ of this card was accompanied by massive technical detail, 2x Fiji GPUs, 8GB of HBM memory, 3x DP and 1x HDMI ports, and 16TFLOPS, or things that were all known. That’s it, no detail, no ability to ask questions, and all facts that were known.

Price? Who knows. Availability? When SemiAccurate showed you this card last June we had all those details, and probably more were said in confidence. What we can say was that card was supposed to be out in the fall of 2015. That became late 2015, then CES, then the end of January, then nothing until it was sprung on us with hours of notice. We couldn’t ask simply questions like, “Why was this dog woefully late?”, and “Will it be priced not to sell like your other dual GPUs?”. From there a few good follow-ups would be, “But seriously, if it actually becomes available, can we get a real date?”, and “Should we read anything into the fact that you didn’t sample the press at what is ostensibly the ‘launch’, like maybe that it is a dog?”.

Don’t think we are intoning that this card is effectively both vapor and DOA because we are not, we are stating that outright. Three quarters ago a dual Fiji would have made sense, now it doesn’t, and at the absurd prices SemiAccurate is hearing, it definitely is not going to fly, if it ever actually is released that is. Like the launch vehicle, this card is meant to grab shallow headlines and will not move the marketshare needle for AMD, two of a market failure does not a winner make.

Then there is the VR headset, it may be a cool device but since it is backed by AMD, it is doomed to failure. The company simply does not have the market traction to make inroads with their own VR technology even if it is showstoppingly great, Oculus marketing execs are not going to lose sleep over this one, trust me on this ‘prediction’. Backed by the awesome power of an AMD APU, at extremely low wattages, this this has all the brute power to almost pull the skin off a pudding, with a lot of help and a horse or two. About the only decent thing you can say about it is the drivers are less broken than Intel’s, but that is not high praise. Another headline grabbing attempt that no one can ask questions about, no technical details were released, and no press will ever get the chance to independently evaluate one before it fades away. But the coveted headlines will be gotten.

Last up is the AMD VR-ready PC which is effectively a Maingear system with a bunch of high end components. Nothing against Maingear, they make a fine system, but does AMD really think anyone is going to buy a VR-spec PC because they blessed it? AMD’s stamp of approval vs Oculus’ or Steam’s, kind of hard to pick a winner there, or even two, isn’t it? They are all so close in gravitas that there is almost nothing between them. Snicker. But it did grab social media headlines which were aided by an inability to ask questions and a complete lack of accompanying data. “Echo” says the echo chamber.

In summary, AMD is carrying on their traditions of worthless ‘events’ designed to hide the truth and keep people from asking questions. Shiny things are tossed around, the tame dance, and metrics about retweets and likes are somehow tallied into successes. Unfortunately the truth and real information are victims here. Did anyone write about how late the duo was, how pointless an AMD VR stamp of approval is, and how much traction an AMD blessed headset will get? Nope. Our apologies to those who wasted a few hours of their lives with another pointless headline grab ‘event’ even if it had a catchy name like Capsaicin. At least we didn’t have to sit through another turkey this time, the last one was scarring enough.S|A

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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. FullyAccurate