Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2011 (Revised July 2012)

Reversing the AMD Fusion Launch

by Elie Ofek and Ryan Johnson

Abstract

AMD management needs to make a critical decision on the launch sequence of its next-generation technology called Fusion. The Fusion processor concept merges the central and graphics processing units (CPU and GPU) onto one chip-- yielding advantages in performance (particularly graphics related), power consumption, and suitability for new computer form factors (tablets, all-in-one machines, etc.). AMD planned to launch Fusion at the beginning of 2011 with a high-end processor, code-named Llano, to impress the industry and consumers with the best the technology could offer (suited for high-end desktops and notebooks), and subsequently to launch low-powered versions, code-named Brazos (suited for small notebooks and netbooks). However, the development of Llano suffered delays while that of Brazos was ahead of schedule. AMD's executive committee raised the possibility of reversing the launch sequence and going with a "Brazos First" strategy. The case describes the microprocessor industry, its main competitors (AMD and Intel), and the evolving world of PC selling and buying. The case further provides a host of market research that AMD conducted to better understand the market. Students need to address the advisability of a reverse launch vs. waiting to launch all versions together and whether AMD can advance its competitive position relative to Intel with Fusion. Students need to outline their marketing approach (sales effort, pricing, consumer marketing, etc.) in the event that a reverse launch strategy is pursued.

Keywords: Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Product Launch; Performance Effectiveness; Strategic Planning; Competition; Value Creation; Computer Industry; Technology Industry;

Citation:

Ofek, Elie, and Ryan Johnson. "Reversing the AMD Fusion Launch." Harvard Business School Case 511-036, June 2011. (Revised July 2012.)