Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AMD is in a unique position to push a Windows-Free alternative to Wintel's VIIV

David Berlind of ZDNet asks in his blog "If you could ask AMD anything, what would you ask?"

Since my reply requires room for the explanation, here goes my analysis:

Given these facts:

1. AMD is in a UNIQUE position, with its low-power, low-cost CPUs, to challenge the Microsoft-Intel push for Windows Media Center and the insane "VIIV" ""solutions"", that locks consumers into Microsoft's proprietary codecs, and with windows-only DRM-infected "media".

2. AMD is very linux friendly, in fact, MIT's "OLPC" effort is proof that linux+AMD can bring great technological solutions to the marketplace.

3. AMD, along with Sun, could develop an OPEN ALTERNATIVE to challenge VIIV, based on:
a. AMD's low-cost, low-power CPUs
b. Sun's cross-platform java for the media server software on PCs
c. Linux as the OS for the "media players", set top boxes and "entertainment centers".

The only thing missing is the WILL, on AMD's part, to create an open platform, co-develop with taiwanese and chinese hardware makers a "reference platform" and then once the cross-platform, open software side is polished up, sit batck and watch the competition among hardware makers for differentiation and features do the rest.

Prismiq, the company now closing shop after a number of bad strategic decissions, showed the way with its Prismiq Media Player, which 3 years ago won the "best of Comdex" prize. It had great potential and I'm surprised that neither AMD nor Sun saw the potential and acquired the company and its ideas, which would have paved the way for an open alternative to VIIV based on AMD, Linux and Java, which is what I'm proposing today.

Prismiq's mistakes? Let me summarize:.
1. choosing a low-horsepower NEC CPU, and a low-ram configuration on the hardware side
2. choosing to do the back-end software of their media player in cross-platform java, and then attempting to re-code a GUI in C++ for each native platform they wanted to support (Windows, MacOS, Linux).
3. Attempting (and failing) to get a "community" of hobbyst programmers to do #2 above for them, without putting enough resources or paid programmers into the effort.
4. Throwing a lot of money down the drain trying to release a Prismiq video recorder on top of the low-horsepower base hardware configuration (see #1 above).

Despite this, and trying not to lose focus and get back to the subject... THE QUESTION FOR AMD IS:

-AMD is already collaborating with Sun, and have a great relationship with them.
-Sun is promoting an open alternative to windows-only, platform-locked DRM, they call it DReaM, and is based in Java.
-Consumers want CHOICES, and a DRM-FREE (and/or open-DRM, could be up to the hardware makers' choice) solution that is comparable to Intel's VIIV but doesn't lock them to a single vendor or desktop platform would be warmly welcomed into the market.
-There is an open mpeg4 video codec that AMD's alternative to VIIV could use: THEORA
-Your main competitor, Intel, is in cahoots with the Evil Empire of Redmondia to help extend the Windows desktop monopoly to the Home Theather and living room market of consumers....

... SO WHAT IS AMD WAITING FOR TO GIVE INTEL's BRAINDEAD VIIV SOME SERIOUS KICKING and help promote the use of low-power AMD CPUs and OPEN SOFTWARE and CODECS on the consumers' home???

I'd like to hear what AMD execs have to say about this...