General Technology

When will AMD join the Quantum Computing Race?

August 19, 2020

The processor company famous for producing processors to rival Intel in today’s market has gathered increasing demands for it’s product as people are stuck inside under lock-downs and restrictions across the globe to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As the world desperately seeks more computational clout, could AMD also go into Quantum?

Why don’t more chip makers get into Quantum?

Traditional chip makers have not embraced quantum computing and naturally you would expect them to, because there is lot of overlap between some of the technologies – particularly the production and fabrication of semi conductors. However if we look at ARM, AMD, NVIDIA, Micron, Texas Instruments, they have no quantum computing programme. The only one company that we could find in the traditional CPU/GPU space that does anything quantum is Intel.

Instead the control company Honeywell is perhaps the wild-card in the pack here in developing quantum computers, a company not normally associated with computing, but Honeywell is not a traditional chip maker.

Perhaps there is something of the innovator dilemma here, in that the disruptive breakthroughs in computing may not come from the existing leaders in semiconductors. For example IBM have already had a public facing Quantum cloud computing for the last four years. Sadly many of the current processor manufacturers are likely too vested on making the most of their current technology investments to invest in disruptive technologies.

As we know from cases such as Kodak which basically invented the digital camera but refused to innovate with it and steadfastly remained focused on traditional film, processor makers could go the same way. We know that Intel is mainly focused on the CPU market which has already seen inroads from GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) into their market as the world looks for better and smarter ways to compute and deal with the need for specific compute jobs such as Machine Learning tasks.

Intel is the only chip maker investing in Quantum

As we wrote recently Intel seems to have been left behind by the cool kids and is no longer a stock market darling, instead it is languishing in capital growth by AMD, Nvidia and Micron. The languishing stock price is partly due to its competition aggressively moving its it territory. The competition comes from GPU’s (both AMD and Nvidia),

Could the interest in Quantum Computing lift the spirits of Intel and its investors? We think so, as Intel has been an innovator in processor technology for a number of years, with other companies simply following, but now that competition is pretty serious and offers compelling products on the marketplace. With recent announcements that Trump is going to spend an extra 30% on quantum computing and AI, this could be a double edged sword for the simple fact that, whilst Intel is the sole chip maker investing in Quantum, its rivals chips (Nvidia and AMD) are powering the AI (Artificial Intelligence) Revolution with their GPUs and Intel is still behind the lead when it comes to GPUs. Intel does have a GPU that it is working on named the Intel Xe, but that is not released or in production yet.

AMD moves fast and is building CPU and GPU

Watchers of AMD stock will be happy to see the meteoric rise of the share price over the last few years. Driven by the move into GPU’s, AMD has figured out where the market is and has moved towards it.

As yet we can find no evidence of it moving into the Quantum space. It is much smaller than Intel in terms of market valuation, valued at only 1/2 the size of Intel. ($208B vs $97B). However much of that value comes in recent years. Even just two years ago, AMD would have appeared a minnow valued at less than 10% of the value of Intel.

We don’t know if Quantum will prove viable for AMD to get into. We suspect that AMD will be a likely acquisition target (if approved by the regulators), for the likes of NVIDIA for example. But we would have thought that it might have at least dipped its toe into the water or make a token effort as far as Quantum Computing goes. We see more flexibility in AMD in moving to newer markets such as GPU’s. But as yet, not the Quantum space.

Right now Quantum cannot help with existing computational tasks but it might just be the stuff of the future. Watch this space to see if AMD will ever decide to go Quantum.