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。
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.