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Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD)

Citi Global Technology Conference

September 4, 2013 09:45 AM ET

Executives

Lisa Su - SVP, General Manager - Global Business Units

Analysts

Adeline Lee - Citi

Adeline Lee

[Abrupt Start]

… AMD session. My name is Adeline Lee and I work for the U.S. semiconductor team for Glenn Young and we are really happy to have Lisa Su, AMD’s Senior Vice President and Head of the Global Business Unit here with us today and Lisa good morning, thank you for being with us.

Lisa Su

Good morning, yes it’s great to be here.

Adeline Lee

So we have much insight in to this, we have three questions that we ask every company here at the Citi Tech Conference, the first one is how would you characterize current visibility versus a quarter ago versus a year ago, is it better, is it worse or is it the same?

Lisa Su

Okay so let me start with that and may be just as a little bit of introduction to the AMD business because we have been transforming our business over the last 18 months. Now if you look at where AMD is traditionally placed back in 2012 or so you would say that our business was 95% exposure to the PC market, so very heavily in the PC market and part of our transformation has been, over the last 18 months or so really transforming, you know still PC is a very important part of our business but we have also been transforming to more of the growth markets and we publically stated that by the end of the 2013 we would have at least 20% of our business outside of the traditional PC market and that is in semi-custom, game consoles, embedded in some of our growth segments that we can talk about going forward. So when you talk about visibility compared to you said a year ago or six months, you know I would say that the PC market is still I would relatively choppy as a market, we have seen that, the second half of the year tends to be the seasonally stronger part of the year and we expect back to school and holiday to be important, we have to see how that plays out over the next three or four months. I will say though for our newer business particularly the semi-custom and game console business, we do have fairly good visibility and because those are custom products and the lead time of those products is longer than the traditional consumer so I think that part of the business good visibility relative to the PC market, you know we continue to feel good about our product positioning and where our designs are and how we are sorting them you know will have to see how the market plays out in the second half of this year.

Adeline Lee

Great the second question is how would you characterize your potential productivity gains in your businesses versus one year ago versus a quarter ago, is it better, is it worse, is it the same?

Lisa Su

Yes so productivity, I think we can look at it as both engineering productivity and manufacturing productivity. On the engineering side, again you think about where we are going as a Company, if you looked at AMD a couple of years ago you could say we were X-86 Company, I mean that’s kind of what we did. If you look at the strategies since Rory Read has joined the Company as CEO which has been about two years, you know I joined about 18 to 20 months ago, Mark Papermaster as our CTO also joined within that timeframe. We really focused the Company on how we transitioned from being a pure X86 Company to be really more of a design Company and what mean is focusing on still our core strength which is in the microprocessor area, our microprocessor design and our graphics capability, our core technology IT strengths where we spend a lot of our engineering and R&D dollars but we are able to reuse those components into a bunch of markets, so those components are reused in the PC markets, they are reused in the game console market, we think there is a growth opportunities in the embedded market than servers. And so from a productivity standpoint the idea of how do you reuse engineering sort of IT such that we get more products out is really what we are focused on.

So compared to a year ago, I think we are well on our way in that journey. I would say that it’s a multi-year journey and so we are nowhere near done, and I think you will see some of the key hallmarks for us are productivity means to me execution so when we promise a product we get it out on time, the first half of this year we launched an entirely new client roadmap, we are launching also these new game console chip in the second half of this year and you will see more reuse and more capability as we go forward in the 2014 and 2015 timeframe.

Adeline Lee

Definitely I want to talk about game consoles later, so the third question is can you rank your intended use of cash in terms of acquisitions buybacks and dividends side.

Lisa Su

Yes I mean I think what we have said with cash is, we believe that we are managing to about $1.1 billion level over the next number of quarters, we think the minimum cash is of 700 million for a Company of our size and what we need to manage and I think we are well within that range and we have a good set of sort of scenarios there.

Adeline Lee

So let’s take dig deeper into your businesses, you guys outlined your ambidextrous strategy in the past, can you just walk us through the key attributes of that and also how should we think about the strategy on a cost perspective?

Unidentified Company Representative

So maybe just as a little bit of background for those that are not familiar. So we’ve talked about our ambidextrous strategy and really how we’re moving into a Company that really has more usable IT components. And what that means is again we have traditionally been very strong in X86 custom microprocessors. As we move forward, we see that the market requires more customization, so in other words the idea of one size fits all in terms of a product is changing and we need to be able to customize for various vertical markets. So our ambidextrous strategy is the idea of really using both ARM and X86 architectures as well as combining graphics, third party IP together so that we can optimize for each market segment.

We have broadened our relationship with ARM over the past couple of quarters and that continuous to be place where we think there is growth opportunity. X86 will always be a huge part of our business but we see growth segments in ARM, we’ve announced some work with ARM in the server market around Dent servers. We view that as a growth opportunity and it’s really the idea of having the right products for the right market. And so this ambidextrous strategy allows us to adopt our products to the market needs more effectively.

Unidentified Analyst

So let’s go into gaming. It’s a new opportunity for you guys. But you guys have a bit of history in this market anyway. So can you give us a little bit of history of how you came to this opportunity?

Unidentified Company Representative

Sure. So the game console market is a very exciting market to us for a number of reasons. We have had history certainly through part of ATI into AMD where we licensed some of our graphics technology. When you look at going from the last generation of game console to this generation of game console it was necessary to provide a substantial performance improvement going forward. And so the game console vendors were looking for a partner that could incorporate the highest performance graphics with the CPU capability, in this case X86 as well as fully semicustom design.

So great opportunity for us, allows us to showcase our APUs, using our APU technology really providing some unique solution and in this particular case although Sony and Microsoft are both in the game console market, they’re very different solutions, they are fully custom solutions optimized to each companies’ vision. So it’s something that I would say AMD can offer uniquely and it’s one of our largest growth opportunities certainly in the near term but also it’s a nice seven year cycle and so it does well for us in terms of long term growth potential.

Unidentified Analyst

So you guys have obviously certain type of advantage that allows you to win this business. Do you think though that the game console makers will stay with this strategy? Is that something that you can sense right now?

Unidentified Company Representative

There has been a lot of discussion about what’s going to happen with the game console market, is it going to substantial change, what’s going to happen with tablet gaming or cloud gaming. Our view is that the game consoles are great markets. I mean if you think about the number of markets that can ship tens of millions of units a year and really continue that over an extended period of time, there are not so many markets that can do that.

In this particular case, you’ll notice that the designs are very high performance and very capable and that delivers a user experience that’s different than what you could get from the last generation. I think you’ll see a lot of sort of acceleration of game development as this generation of consoles launch and that will extend over the next number of years. So I would say that the game console is a very good market continue to be driven by technologies and that’s why we’re so excited about the market.

Unidentified Analyst

Great. Interestingly Microsoft yesterday said that they expect this generation of game consoles to be sold in terms of more units versus the last cycle and they said there was 300 million units in the last cycle, so 200 million units in the cycle before that. Is that similar to your view?

Unidentified Company Representative

Well, I would certainly love this cycle [indiscernible] in the last cycle, so I wouldn’t mind that at all. I would say that there are certain positives that we should think about. So if you think about the positives this generation to last generation, there is this concept of the game consoles being more than the game consoles in terms of what they occupy in the living room and the ability to do a lot of the internet content. And I think that’s certainly part of the strategy.

I think the other piece of it is by adoption of the X86 plus Radeon graphics architecture it’s actually made it easier for software developers. If you looked at the last generation of game consoles although the technology was very good, it took a while for all of the software titles to come out and I think in this generation you see both console guys being very aggressive with their software partnerships. So I think it's early to say we're very focused on the 2013 holiday launch but I think we're very optimistic also about the potential of game consoles.

Adeline Lee

It sounds good. What's your expectation in terms of the gaming contribution to your revenues? Can you sort of outline what you have said and perhaps give us some details around that?

Lisa Su

Yes, so if you look at our sort of revenue discussion, we've talk about diversifying our business. So again in 2012 95% plus PC business by the end of 2013 we will have over 20% of our revenue outside of PCs. I would say the largest contribution of that is on the semi-custom and game consoles. As we go forward, for the next three years we put a target of 40% to 50% of our business outside the traditional PC space. When you look at those new growth businesses, I think game console is one element of that and we'll see the launch this year extending into obviously '14 and '15. We also have a bunch of other growth, though that I would like to make sure we don't lose sight of, we have talked about really diversifying, taking the technology that we have and diversifying outside the PC markets.

So we like game consoles, we particularly like the business model sort of the semi-custom business model. The semi-custom business model allows us to offer customers a way to differentiate beyond what they can do with traditional standard products. And that differentiation becomes much more important, when you talk about a tight PC market hard to really differentiate with standard products, we're operating on ability to really customize and tailor solutions to given applications. We think that's a large piece of the growth going forward, we believe embedded, is another growth market for us as well as professional graphics and dense servers.

So we really see diversification of our business over the next couple of years to include game consoles as well as other significant growth opportunities.

Adeline Lee

Great, just one last question on gaming. We understand, it's our understanding that you will be foregoing some licensing revenue and that will be replaced by chip revenue. So can you tell us, what's the dynamics between those two, how will one offset or perhaps be incremental to the other?

Lisa Su

So just for a bit of clarity in the last generation of consoles Microsoft and Nintendo were using our technology and we received licensing royalties from that. In this generation of consoles Nintendo is still licensing our technology, Microsoft has switched from a licensing model to a silicon model and Sony is new revenue for us.

So the answer is over a period of time the royalty numbers will go down but the silicon revenue and the margin contribution will go substantially up for the game console business. It's net positive for us. That transition will happen over a period of time, it depends on the shares of the various console guys as they sell out. But clearly from our standpoint last generation to this generation we have a lot more content, it's a big revenue contributor for us and good from an operating margin standpoint.

Adeline Lee

So let's move to your new SoCs Temash, this SoC is benefiting from your graphics capability from ATI. Can you sort of discuss the benefit of your design and sort of what kind perception have you seen from OEMs?

Lisa Su

So in the first half of this year we launched an entirely new product portfolio in our client business, so we launched Temash at the low end targeted at tablets and small form factor notebooks. We have launched Kabini in the entry mainstream price points and then we launched Richland at our high end. If you look at these products and you ask specifically about Temash. Temash is a very strong product for us. I would say one of the knocks on AMD if you talked about us a year or two ago was that we weren't focused on low power. Well I think it's fair to say we're very, very focused on low power. Temash was a new design focused on the mobility space. We reached the sub-four watt level really bandwidths tablets and clamshells are the target. We had a time to market advantage, so with our Jaguar cores and our Radeon graphics we were out in market; we started shipping in the second quarter. And from a performance standpoint had a good capability.

So our focus was the product line is about offering the right products at the right price points, the sweet spot for AMD is in the 350 to 550 range. We have a lot of nice designs; there are a number of touch designs that are out there with Temash at 399 price point with Windows 8. So, we’re pleased with the product capabilities and the product reception, we gained some share in the second quarter, first time in a number of quarters that we gained share in the PC market in both notebook and desktop. So we were pleased with the performance there.

Adeline Lee

So, Intel was just talking about a Bay Trail product and their Haswell product. It seems like Bay Trail is going probably into the same market that your new products are going into. So, what do you think, what’s your view of the competition there? They talk about their sort of design win with Samsung Galaxy Tab and sort of like a 5% market share there. So, what’s your expectation in the tablet market, in the smartphone market?

Lisa Su

Yes, good question relative to Bay Trail. It’s fair to say that AMD is not focused on the smartphone market. So, that’s the market that we’ve not chosen to get into, it’s a fairly crowded market at this point in time.

We do compete against Bay Trail in tablets and small factor PCs. I guess what I would say is we were out there first, so we got Quad Core, Temash, SSEs out there. As I said earlier this year we’ve been in market now for a number of months in all regions. It continues to be competitive as we look going forward into the holiday season, what we see is we have the right design wins, so we’re very focused on key OEM design wins, couple of exclusive designs around Temash and Kabini and the point there is its bright designs, excellent graphics, excellent power performance and we continue to compete very hard in the market.

Adeline Lee

So, moving to the PC market, recently cut internal forecast for the PC market this year and next year and obviously outside just our PC model, (inaudible) OEMs, so the muted data regarding third Q PC bill. So, can you sort of give us a view of how you see this market going forward from your sort of customer point of view? What do you hear from them?

Lisa Su

Yes, so definitely we spend a lot of time with all of the same customers. I would say, it’s not new news to say that the PC market is somewhat challenged when you look at 2013 relative to 2012, we certainly see the decline. What we do see is it need to be really, fairly selective in terms of how you focus designs, I think all of the OEMs are being choosey about their product skews and trying to narrow their product skews, make sure that they make bigger bets in terms of the key design.

So, I think no question to market is challenged. From our vantage point, we still have share opportunity growth given the size of our share and we certainly see that there are opportunities in commercial. If you see the market, even as it looks today, there is a lot more focus on the entry price points. So, having 349, 399, 499 skews are important. This is for additionally AMD sweet spot and this is where we’ve played very well, this where Kabini and Temash are going in the marketplace. So, I think we continue to review that as an opportunity for us.

Adeline Lee

You talk about the sweet spot of PC pricing and that is exactly like you said, it’s a price range that’s growing but it seems like Intel is also becoming very aggressive there. How do you see their progress in there, especially if you talk about designs wins for Bay Trail and can talk about designs wins for the convertible thin, ultra-thin form factor PCs and encouraging on pretty much your territories here?

Lisa Su

I think, it’s fair to say when the market growth is in a certain area that Intel is going to focus on that area and we’re going to focus on that area. I think that’s fair. However when you look at the market dynamics, again Temash was in market a number of months prior to this conversation and we’ve had a number of design wins with the key OEMs in this area. Is Bay Trail being very competitive? Absolutely, I think in terms of where we are I think we feel like we are definitely holding our own relative to positioning of our product, most of the focus is on the very, very low end and when we think about it we look at it as a mix and how we’re selling the entire portfolio and so, I think when we look at our Dual Core and Quad Core capability, we have a good very competitive offering in the space. So, is it getting more competitive? Yes. Are we being very competitive ourselves? Yes. And it starts with a very strong product that we have.

Adeline Lee

So, let's talk about the tablet market. It's clearly in an area where the high-end is accelerating and the area that’s growing is the 7 inch sort of smaller form factor tablets. What’s your intention here? Do you have a specific product that competes in that area or can we expect some of your current new products to be targeting that area?

Lisa Su

Yes, I think what you’ll see is particularly with X86 today the focus on tablets has been around Windows 8 and they have been at the larger screen sizes and the higher performance. I think over time you’ll see that come down. I think you’ll also see that our products I said Temash was a four watt product I think you’ll see new products coming out from us at much lower power that will support the 7 to 8 inch screen sizes. So I think overtime you’ll see Windows become a larger player in those spaces.

Adeline Lee

Just one last question on this, do you feel that Microsoft having their 10 inch tablets not seeing great uptick, do you think they will be shifting their sort of OEM support to smaller form factor, does that benefit AMD?

Lisa Su

Well, I think Microsoft in general is being quite supportive of smaller form factor designs, and I think that is important going forward. I think we view as you said the broadening of the tablet market as important. I will also say though the blurring of the new form factor is something that we should pay attention to as a market. So the difference between a tablet and a convertible and a hybrid in terms of technology is not so much. And you will see this holiday season a number of new form factors coming out from the OEMs that will test the hypothesis around hybrid, how big is that market is going to be. You can see that they really start blurring with peer tablets and clam shelves. So I think that the key for me is to really see the new form factors and their adoption in the market.

Adeline Lee

Great, so let’s talk about ARM a little bit. Can you update us on what your status is with your efforts regarding making chips with using ARM or designing your own chips?

Lisa Su

Yes, so as part of our ambidextrous strategy I think we continue to broaden our partnership with ARM. So if you look today our roadmap we added ARM earlier this year and we added it in couple of places, the first is with our security co-processor. So on our X86 chips today we use ARM microcontroller for some of the security processing and I think we did that because we wanted to use industry standard in that space. Our relationship with ARM continues to grow. We’ve also licensed the ARM 64-bit A57 that we’ve previously talked about and we’re putting that into Dent servers. That chip is currently in design and we will be sampling it in the first quarter of 2014, it will be in production later in 2014.

We think the Dent server market is really interesting. It provides an opportunity for ARM particularly in those applications that don’t have a lot of, let’s call it, operating system legacy so web applications, web hosting search those types of things. And we’ll continue to grow our relationship with ARM overtime.

Adeline Lee

Sounds good, and can you sort of online with for us what’s your roadmap look like with ARM? And I am asking this question sort of the sense of besides designing a chip with ARM having an architecture team in-house what else do you need to have to be successful designing an ARM SSE and also can you bring in your SeaMicro acquisition into the discussion?

Lisa Su

Yes, so a key thing there is not necessarily ARM or X86 but it’s really the reusable IT methodology that we’ve been working on. When we talk about what we’re doing as a company in terms of transformation, our engineering capabilities we’ve always have leading edge IT and the capability to build a very strong processors and graphics. But we used to have to customize and hand tune every transistor and that hurt time to market and also didn’t give us a lot of flexibility.

By going to this reusable IT methodology that we’re working on, it allows us to bring in ARM. So it’s not just about the microprocessor architecture, it’s about total system on chip. And it’s also very important for us to be able to integrate both our IT and third party IT. So that’s another key piece of our strategy.

As we look going forward SeaMicro as our Dent server offering will offer both X86 and ARM in those systems. And we do that because they are really different market segments in servers. We’re treating the server business as vertically a focused business as well in terms of ensuring that we have the right solutions for the right market. So in some areas X86 and APUs are more beneficial, in other areas we think ARM offers performance per dollar advantages and then we would focus in those areas.

Adeline Lee

Actually, what’s interesting is that one of Intel’s datacenter briefings they told us that their (inaudible) product which is something they just unveiled today, that is directly sort of targeted towards AMD's product; I am interested in what’s your response to that.

Lisa Su

Should I feel flattered or…

Adeline Lee

I think you should.

Lisa Su

We've had a history of being fairly successful in the small core market, right if you look at our Jaguar core today I mean I am really pleased and proud of how far that core has gone because it's in client, it's in gaming, it's in servers, it’s a very power efficient core and we have gotten that reusable IT building blocks out there, is there a desire to have more power efficient X86 cores yes and so is that important for client and server, yes. Are we focused on those areas, you know for sure.

Adeline Lee

Great, we can pause here and see is if there are any questions from the audience.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Analyst

Did you give volume numbers for consoles?

Lisa Su

Yes, so the question was whether we gave volume numbers for consoles, we haven’t and the reason we haven’t is really it’s our customers, our proprietary information. What we have said is we are guiding up 21% to 22% from Q3 to Q2 and a large piece of that is our game console ramp.

Unidentified Analyst

How is the traditional graphics business looking for this Christmas?

Lisa Su

Relative to the traditional graphics, I think we feel very good about our competitiveness in the traditional graphic space. I think you have seen a real refocus in terms of what we are doing with discreet graphics. I break it up into three segments. So I think the notebook segment which is traditional attach rate to PCs, I think the attach rates are relatively stable so that is really the same exposure as just the overall PC market. I think if you look at the desktop channel market for [indiscernible], I think the market looks fairly reasonable and then if you look at professional graphics, that’s a lot of green field for us. So looking at the market over the next couple of quarters, I think is fairly reasonable. I think we see it as a share growth opportunity for us.

Unidentified Analyst

Just back on gaming, just trying to get a sense, the custom I mean how different is the design from each other and what type of node are they typically using, are they going through GlobalFoundries or TSMC and lastly I have seen estimates out there, kind of a content per boxes somewhere in the range $65 to $75, I just was trying to get an idea if that's anything in the realm of possibility?

Lisa Su

Yes so in terms of how different are the console chips. They are quite different relative to architecture, they use sort of similar IP, so like our Jaguar core and our Radeon graphics but in terms of the architectures you know sort of how they decided to put it together, they really are custom designs. We run them as two completely separate teams. Given the confidential nature of the business, we have to ensure to ensure two very separate teams and so they are really separate chips from that standpoint twofold design efforts. I am sorry your other questions?

Unidentified Analyst

As far as the nodes that…

Lisa Su

Yes, so in this particular case both products are starting at the 28 nanometer by technology node that’s actually a good thing because if you think about a 28 nanometers are fairly mature technology node, there has been some discussion about the amount of content that’s on these chips and the die sizes and stuff. The way I think about it is when you are designing a game console, you are really designing for a console that’s going to last as I said per seven year cycle, even if it short to five year cycle, so it’s a long cycle and we make sure in this process that these are future-proof designs that they really have good content, I think relative the technology node because it’s 28 nanometer, it is a stable technology node and so we feel good about the yields in the manufacturing around that and relative to where its manufactured I think we're not very specific and where the various parts are manufactured only to say that we do use both TSMC and GlobalFoundries for the 28 nanometer node across our production.

Unidentified Analyst

And just lastly in terms of process per [technical difficulty] at all?

Lisa Su

So what we have said about the ASP is they are at the high end of our client, ASP ranges.

Unidentified Analyst

To follow up on the discussions, can you just [indiscernible] what you talked about around gross margin, operating margin expectations for the console business?

Lisa Su

Yes so there's been just a few questions on that topic, it's fair to say that the semi-custom business model is different from our traditional PC model. The gross margins are below corporate average. The operating margins are fairly good. In our last quarterly earnings call we guided that the operating margins of gaming would start in the low double-digits. We see opportunities for that to improve overtime, particularly as we go up the volume curve and see our cost reductions both in manufacturing and productivity in general. But as a model, it’s really a very, very nice model because we designed these with our customers, our customers fund a large portion of the engineering expense and so the gross margin fall through to operating margins as a percentage is quite high.

Adeline Lee

Is there a piece that sort of one-time type of fee, fee-for-service revenues there or is that sort of it’s all part of the price per content?

Lisa Su

Yes, yes so the way you should think about the model is there is a, we call it an NRE or non-recurring engineering expense. That’s paid over the time of the development and so we have seen that over the past number of quarters as we have done the development. And then the silicon content comes in as we ramp. So one of the levers of the model is you have seen us really take our operating expense down over the last three or four quarters as we've restructured the Company. That restructuring is largely behind us now but what you will see is as we accelerate revenue that the operating expense will stay constant and roughly flat and that is the leverage of the model when you are running an RU model.

Adeline Lee

But is the NRE a revenue or is that a cost offset?

Lisa Su

It’s a revenue.

Adeline Lee

I imagine that within your engineering crew there is probably a lot of competition to work on the newer stuff like for example to get -- to be part of the ARM working team. How do you balance the kind of the need to keep up the old stuff and drive towards the new stuff? And then how do you lend priority to the sales force who are essentially compelling or trying to offer customers to competing processors with each other one, 10 realistic tier larger revenue base in one potentially some future hope of revenue?

Lisa Su

Perhaps that is an interesting way of putting it, I don’t actually think of it as the new stuff and old stuff. But I would say that as our core and our growth business it’s actually not an issue and I will tell you why it’s not an issue. If you look at the engineering ranks what we are investing in very much the same things that are core to AMD’s differentiation right we are investing in microprocessor cores. So a new X86 core we are investing in ARM we are investing in graphics IP that graphics goes across our product lines. So the way to think about it as the engineering afforest around the IP are going across the entire product portfolio they are going into client, they are going into graphics, they are going into semicustom. And so it’s not so much new versus old what it is, is how do we ensure that the IP blocks are applicable across the new market segments. So from an engineering standpoint I think my colleague Mark Papermaster and I have worked through that in terms of really the strategy around going to these reusable IP components. Engineers like to see their stuff going to products so again the Jaguar design team having that core going to five or six products is a lot better than going into just one or two products and that’s the way to think about it.

Relative to the sales force we are doing a bit of shift in the sales and marketing. Particularly as we go from traditional clients there is eight top OEMs in the desktop channels. As we move into some of the other segments there is more for example, in embedded it tends to have a more dedicated sales force for example when we go into professional graphics, that’s a more dedicated sales force. And that’s trying to target some of those verticals that we talked about. So definitely we are making adjustments in how we attack the markets, but it’s a belief that this diversification strategy is the best way to get the technology into the most number of units and that’s kind of the way we think about the strategy.

Adeline Lee

Unfortunately our time is up. Thank you very much Lisa.

Lisa Su

Very good. Thank you.

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