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商业 - 科技

AMD奇袭英特尔

JP Mangalindan 2013年04月17日

芯片制造商AMD多年来一直活在英特尔的阴影里。如今,科技界三家举足轻重的公司可能已决定长期采用AMD的产品,它们是任天堂、索尼和微软。这三家公司生产的新一代游戏机都将采用AMD的芯片,而AMD也借此在PC之外找到了阻击老对手英特尔的阵地。

    英特尔(Intel)芯片83%是PC芯片,因此在传统PC市场占有压倒性的领导地位。但有一个领域,在不久的将来,这家芯片巨头将不再占据优势,那就是游戏机。如果报道属实,Advanced Micro Devices(简称AMD)将实现就连竞争对手英特尔也未曾实现过的的目标:将芯片植入所有三大品牌的下一代游戏机中。

    去年秋季推出的任天堂(Nintendo) Wii U游戏机已搭载了AMD的Radeon图形处理芯片组。(但CPU由IBM制造。)今年2月索尼(Sony)PlayStation 4的发布会上,这家日本巨头透露称,这款即将推出的游戏机将搭载基于AMD “Jaguar” 设计的8核处理器,将CPU和图片处理功能结合在一个晶圆上。而彭博社(Bloomberg)最近也报道称,微软(Microsoft)可能于5月21日推出的下一代Xbox游戏机将采用AMD的Jaguar处理器,与PlayStation 4的处理器类似。

    一举连下三城,究竟意味着什么?它对于开发人员或许是件好事,因为同时针对多款游戏机(特别是PlayStation 4和下一代Xbox)进行开发将变得更加简单。但它对于AMD来说则意味着更重大的胜利。这家总部位于加州桑尼维尔的半导体公司在2012年过得并不顺利,不仅损失了两位备受肯定的高管——高级副总裁兼首席信息官迈克•沃尔夫和负责全球信息技术的集团副总裁特瑞沃•舒尔茨,公司收入也大减17%,净亏损近12亿美元。

    业绩下降很大程度上是因为英特尔对PC市场的绝对控制。当然,传统PC市场自身已经今非昔比:2013年第一季度,全球PC发货量下降14%。这已是连续第四个季度下降,这种幅度的PC销量下滑堪称历史最糟,同时也压缩了AMD的利润。如今,AMD正在努力扭转颓势。2012年第三季度,AMD启动了重组行动:降低对不景气的PC业务的关注,着重拓展新的商机,包括670亿美元的全球视频游戏市场。这家公司希望,未来像Jaguar芯片这样的一体化产品能在公司业务中占据更高的比例,等到PlayStation 4和下一代Xbox游戏机推出之后,它能从当前占总收入的仅5%增至2014年的近20%。

    这些游戏机上市后的表现会如何是另外一个问题。虽然目前这代游戏机获得了一些巨大成功,包括最热销的Xbox和任天堂创新的Wii,没人能知道新一代游戏机的命运将会如何。比如,开发人员就已经对游戏机游戏的未来表示了担忧。而且,像苹果(Apple)iPhone手机、基于谷歌(Google)安卓(Android)系统的智能手机和平板电脑的广泛使用也已改变了游戏玩家的习惯。而且,虽然PC销售低迷,但在这个平台上玩游戏看来在某种程度上已进入了一个复兴期。下一代Playstation和Xbox的零售价尚未透露(可能高达每部500美元),任天堂的Wii U售价为299美元。

    但是,AMD非常看好新的发展方向。AMD副总裁罗伊•泰勒最近告诉硬件博客Bit-Tech称,他认为AMD将跟随苹果和IBM的步伐,成为又一家罕见的、能成功扭转颓势的公司。这种话听起来就像是大家在玩视频游戏的时候朋友之间的吹牛放炮。不过,退一步说,如果各大视频游戏机都采用AMD芯片的话,确实能给予AMD一个难得的机会:再试一把。(财富中文网)

    译者:杨智

    With its processors in 83% of PCs, Intel (INTC) overwhelmingly dominates traditional personal computing. But there's one area where the chip giant won't be winning any time soon: game consoles. If reports prove correct, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) could manage what its competitor hasn't: getting its chips into all three of the major next-generation consoles.

    Nintendo's (NTDOY) Wii U console, launched last fall, already packs a version of AMD's Radeon graphics chipset. (Its CPU, however, is made by IBM (IBM).) At Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 4 event this February, the Japanese giantrevealed that its upcoming console would sport an eight-core processor based on the company's "Jaguar" design, combining the CPU and graphics capabilities on one silicon wafer. And Bloomberg recently reported that Microsoft's (MSFT) next-generation Xbox console, which will likely be announced on May 21, will use an AMD Jaguar processor not unlike the PlayStation 4's.

    What would achieving this kind of trifecta really mean? It may be a boon for developers, making it easier to develop for multiple consoles -- particularly the PlayStation 4 and next-gen Xbox -- simultaneously. It would be an even bigger win for AMD. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., the semiconductor company had a rough 2012, losing two high-profile executives -- senior vice president and chief information officer Mike Wolfe, and corporate vice president for global information technology Trevor Schulze -- as well as seeing its revenues drop 17% with a net loss of nearly $1.2 billion.

    That earnings drop is largely due to Intel's stranglehold on the PC market. Of course, the traditional PC market itself also isn't what it used to be: Worldwide shipments of PCs fell 14% during the first quarter of 2013. It marked the fourth consecutive quarter of decline and worst PC sales drop in history, squeezing AMD's bottom line. AMD is currently trying to pull off a turnaround. During the third quarter of 2012, it initiated a company restructuring, placing less emphasis on sluggish PC sales and focusing on areas of opportunity, including the $67 billion global video game market. The company hopes all-in-one products like its Jaguar chip will become a larger part of the business, from just 5% of overall revenues today to nearly 20% in 2014 -- after the arrivals of the PlayStation 4 and next-gen Xbox.

    How those consoles will fare is another question entirely. While the current generation has seen some wild success, including the best-selling Xbox and Nintendo's original Wii, what will happen with new hardware is anybody's guess. Developers, for one, have expressed doubts about console gaming's future. What's more, the proliferation of devices like Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Google (GOOG) Android-powered smartphones and tablets has changed consumers' gaming habits. And though PC sales have been dim, gaming on that platform seems to haveentered a renaissance of sorts. Retail prices for the next Playstation and Xbox -- which could cost as much as $500 each -- have yet to be revealed; Nintendo's Wii U costs $299.

    Still, AMD is so bullish on its new direction that vice president Roy Taylor recently told the hardware blog Bit-Tech that he sees the company following in the footsteps of Apple (AAPL) and IBM (IBM), becoming another rare example of a successful tech turnaround. That sounds like the kind of bravado-laced boast one might hear from a friend while playing a video game. At the very least, getting its chips into every major video game console does give AMD a rare opportunity: another shot.

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