Lawsuit claims AMD lied about the number of cores in its chips

8 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AMD Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over Allegedly Misleading with the Core Count of Bulldozer Processors.

AMD is all set to release yet another major CPU architecture which is sure to provide a blow to intel’s high performing processors which are currently enjoying an elite position in the market.A new class-action lawsuit against AMD is arguing that the company engaged in fraud and deceptive marketing when it claimed that its Bulldozer processors had eight cores.It would seem like AMD cant get a break, because it is now facing a class-action lawsuit for misrepresentation of the core count of Bulldozer family of processors (via LegalNewsline).AMD is gearing up for a busy 2016 with a fresh range of products and a determination to ensure that those smaller PC builders are up to speed with its latest range of CPUs and graphic cards.

According to a report from Legal Newsline earlier today, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) has been slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly misrepresenting the number of cores found on Bulldozer — the company’s 8-core CPU line-up. A scorned buyer, Tony Dickey, has brought a class action against AMD contending that in fact there were effectively only four cores, while AMD claims there are eight. The grieved party in this case is one Tony Dickey, who claims that the processor is actually on par with a true quad core and is therefore a violation of trust by AMD and clear misleading marketing.

The firm is not only expecting its own products to hit a sweet spot with PC builders and gaming enthusiasts but has already seen a positive impact from the launch of Windows 10. The troubled California giant is being sued in San Jose’s district court, accused of false advertising, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. Unlike Intel’s cores with Hyper-Threading, AMD’s cores share a Floating Point Unit, which doesn’t allow the cores to actually execute commands from two threads at once.

Toney Dickey, along with numerous other AMD users filed a lawsuit against the company on October 26 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose. This revelation is surely set to give sleepless nights to Intel as the new AMD Zen CPU is expected to give tough competition to the best performing CPUs from their stable.

The suit supposedly alleges that because Bulldozer shares certain core resources, the cores can no longer work independently and the chip is no longer capable of performing eight instructions simultaneously. Neil Spicer, EMEA MPU senior sales manager, component channel, at AMD, said that Windows 10 joined a list of inflexion points in industry history that provoked customer upgrades. The plaintiff is suing for damages, including statutory and punitive damages, litigation expenses, pre- and post-judgment interest, as well as other injunctive and declaratory relief as is deemed reasonable. Within each module, alongside the two x86 cores, is a single branch prediction engine, a single instruction fetch and decode stage, a single floating-point math unit, a single cache controller, a single 64K L1 instruction cache, a single microcode ROM, and a single 2MB L2 cache. In actuality, the company constructed the SoC by streamlining components from two cores and meshing them to produce a single module, which meant the CPU cores did not work independently.

Four years ago, we published an investigation into how Bulldozer handled multi-threading scenarios and what kind of penalty the chip took when running two threads on the same module. Spicer said that small local businesses that had been running some desktops on windows XP were now facing the need to upgrade and would be turning to local resellers for advice and products. Our investigations showed that Bulldozer took roughly a 20% performance hit when scaling up to eight cores compared to the scaling we’d expect to see from a conventionally designed processor.

Other speculations are already ripe over the internet regarding compatibility with different hardware and we shall get into more details about all that when things are officially confirmed by the company. Those are serious charges, although like most class action lawsuits, it’s possible that AMD will avoid any of them by settling out of court with those who purchased the processors.

He also argued that average consumers in the market for processors lack the know-how to understand the chipset and its design, but trust the company to deliver accurate specifications for its product line. Over the course of this year AMD has been trying to make it easier for the channel to work with the vendor and has focused heavily on also clearing its inventory levels to avoid any temptation from some to play around with prices. Users found that affected performance distinctly, and in that case, Nvidia offered partial refunds to users, or allowed them to return the card entirely. There is also another graphics architecture that will deliver power consumption and performance improvements that should also provide resellers with something fresh to pitch at the customer.

In the UK AMD provides its own support for resellers via its own partner hub and also leans quite heavily on its CPU master distribution partners Avnet, VIP and Ingram to provide training. Companies are accused of all sorts of legal issues constantly, but this one seems sufficiently supported to see the light of day in a more public forum, and specifically a courtroom. The report of the lawsuit will surely leave insiders reeling, considering the company has just made ground in its face-off with Nvidia and is close to building its first chip made from Samsung’s 14 nm FInFet LLP process. We’ll keep you updated as the situation evolves, and if you bought one of the Bulldozer CPUs, which includes the FX-8150, 8120, or 8100, then keep an eye out — you may have some cash headed your way soon. Since this is a very wide focus class action lawsuit, the damages would be pretty significant and can cause serious financial hardships for AMD – a company already in considerable financial duress.

If AMD hadn’t been forced to lower clock speeds to compensate for its 28nm manufacturing process, Kaveri would’ve outperformed Richland across the board. That suggests each module drops down to single-core performance when crunching floating-point values, although AMD insists its design allows two threads to access the FPU at the same time so the performance hit isn’t the end of the world. Ofcourse, none of this is known to a laymen – and that is exactly what Tony Dickey argues – that the required technical expertise to distinguish the inability of AMD’s shared-core design is not available to the general public. But this lawsuit doesn’t appear to argue that AMD mismarketed its CPUs because single-threaded performance was weaker than expected, but because multi-threaded scaling was critically harmed by the decision to share various aspects of the underlying architecture. Weak single-threaded performance and high power consumption created a situation in which BD could neither hit its target clock frequencies nor its IPC targets.

In March this year, he bought two AMD FX-9590 chips for $299 online after seeing them advertised on AMD.com as eight-core processors, but later felt cheated when he learned of the CPU’s architecture. The Bulldozer designs are used in the two-module, four-core FX-4100, FX-4130, and FX-4170; the three-module, six-core FX-6100, FX-6120, and FX-6200; the four-module, eight-core FX-8100, FX-8120, and FX-8150; and the Opteron 4200 series (up to eight cores) and 6200 series (up to 16 cores). Dickey refers to Bulldozer as being unable to “perform eight calculations simultaneously,” but this is imprecise, inexact language that does not reflect the complexity of how a CPU executes code.

Bulldozer is absolutely capable of executing eight threads simultaneously, and executing eight threads on an eight-core FX-8150 is faster than running that same chip in a four-thread, four-module mode. Unless there’s an out-of-court settlement, a judge in the heart of Silicon Valley will have to define, legally, where a computer processor starts and ends.

As annoying as it is to see vendors occasionally abuse core counts in the name of dubious marketing strategies, asking a courtroom to make declarations about relative performance between companies is a cure far worse than the disease. Of course, such a ruling will be avoided if AMD proves its eight-core Bulldozer processors do not drop to four-core performance in multithreaded FPU benchmark tests. The argument might stand if AMD had marketed BD as having great floating-point performance, but the company’s disclosures and briefings all clearly stated that BD would have just four floating-point units. AMD has, in a very real sense, been thoroughly punished for the CPU it brought to market in 2011 — and this lawsuit makes claims that don’t hold up to technical scrutiny.

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