AMD continues to shed assets in advance of its January 22nd earnings announcement: first it was employees, and now it is mobile graphics technology. AMD announced Tuesday that it's selling its handheld GPU technology, along with some of the handheld unit's employees, to Qualcomm for $65 million.
When first AMD announced that the company would bring the same unified shader architecture behind the Xbox 360 into mobile devices, I was pretty enthusiastic. After all, what was there not to like about plans like this:
"Our goal is to enable high-quality gaming in all handheld devices, because whether it's a mobile phone or a handheld gaming device, the opportunities and challenges are very similar," replied Andy Thompson, director of marketing for AMD's Handheld Division. "We are addressing these challenges by delivering a high volume of low-power OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics hardware based on the same Unified Shader Architecture behind Xbox 360, by providing a comprehensive suite of development tools that are common to the PC and console platforms so developers can leverage their existing production pipeline, by providing hands-on developer support and by working with other key players in the industry to ensure consumers have a positive experience purchasing and playing games on their handheld gaming device of choice."
Qualcomm was an early licensee of the technology, which went out under AMD's Imageon brand, and AMD was pursuing other design wins, as well.
But, alas, there's that small matter of profitability (or, rather, lack thereof), and AMD has clearly decided that the way to stay afloat in 2009 is to pare the business down to the bare essentials—keeping the parts that are proven moneymakers, and dropping the parts that will take a while to develop into growth areas.
From the press release: "With the sale of these handheld technology assets and resources to Qualcomm, we are better able to focus on our core business and leverage our unique position as a leader in both x86 computing and high-end graphics," said Robert J. Rivet, chief operations and administrative officer, chief financial officer of AMD. "We believe the talented AMD Handheld employees will be a great asset to Qualcomm."
The above statement indicates that not only will the IP be going over to Qualcomm, but the handheld division employees will make the jump, as well.
AMD's stock has dropped by about 9 percent since the announcement this morning. The company's share price has been hit especially hard by the slowdown in the PC market, having lost over 70 percent of its value since January of last year.
Source: Ars Technica