AMD In The 'Chips' At Least For Today


This is a big day for Advanced Micro Devices , with the company releasing its long-delayed Quad-Core Opteron server chip.

It's also a big day for CEO Hector Ruiz who tells me this morning in an exclusive interview that he can't underestimate just how frustrating the year delay for this product was; but that now is not the time to kick his people. Nor was their time to do that while the company scrambled to get this chip out the door.

AMD will have plenty of time to do so as the company tries to get itself back on track. Meantime, I did spend some interesting time with Ruiz who didn't pull any punches when it came time to discuss the rivalry between his company and Intel , ten times his size.

He confirmed to me that this new Opteron would be in high performance desktop PCs by year end. He told me Intel's good financial news, upping its revenue range to as much as $9.8 billion is actually good news for AMD as well. "A wonderful time" to introduce new technology when the market is doing so well.

He says despite the rough time for his shares this past year that he still enjoys the full support of his board.

Sources at his company tell me tonight's splashy event at George Lucas' sprawling San Francisco campus will include news of a deepening partnership between the two companies, and that could be important: AMD is already a key supplier to the Lucas server farm with Lucas already buying thousands of processors from AMD. That could be significant, both financially and public-relations wise.

But he reserved his choice comments for Intel, saying the anti-trust suit is "real" and that it will be "awful for them." He says comments from Japan, Korea, the European Union and "several countries to come" show real evidence of predatory, monopolistic behavior by the world's largest chipmaker. He says if it "walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and does other things ducks do," it's obvious Intel has been breaking the law.

Ruiz was clear and he says Intel's practices have created what he calls a "monopoly tax" costing businesses and consumers an extra $60 billion in revenue they shouldn't have had to pay.

He has no doubts AMD will prevail in its fight with Intel; but no matter what, he's happy that his company is finally able to offer "real choice, real alternatives" in the marketplace. Michael Dell says the days of "single source" chip supplies are over, a badge of honor Ruiz says he wears proudly.

Meantime, if you think Intel is merely ignoring AMD, consider the company tried to undercut AMD by unveiling its new Xeon processor last week; tried to steal AMD's thunder today by announcing a new revenue range. When I asked Ruiz if it felt good that such a large competitor was spending its time trying to steal AMD's spotlight, his answer: "You're damn right."

And he laughed.

Questions? Comments?