AMD is still having a crypto-hangover, but Navi could be the cure

(Image credit: AMD)

AMD announced its second quarter financial results, and while we typically don't delve into the business side of the hardware equation all that often, there are some interesting trends to note. The biggest one is the effect that the cryptocurrency crash is still having on AMD.

Overall, AMD generated $1.53 billion during the second quarter of 2019. That is up 20 percent sequentially, but down 13 percent year-over-year. Likewise, it's $35 million in quarterly profit is $19 million more than it netted last quarter, but $81 million lower than the same quarter last year.

During a subsequent conference call with investors, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su pointed to "lower semi-custom sales and lower graphics channel sales associated with blockchain" as offsetting "strong sales" of the company's Ryzen and Epyc processors, and its new Radeon RX 5700 series.

In other words, the ravenous demand for GPUs among cryptocurrency miners went by the wayside when the crypto-market crashed last year, and to some extent, AMD is still feeling the sting. In related news, Bitcoin's current price is back above $10,000 this past month, but difficulty scaling means miners so far haven't been jumping back on the bandwagon. (Fingers crossed.)

This has had a direct impact on AMD's computing and graphics segment, which generated $940 million in revenue last quarter. That represents a 13 percent drop compared to the same quarter a year ago, and it is "primarily due to lower graphics channel sales."

The good news for AMD is that Navi is here. Compared to the previous quarter, AMD's GPU revenue actually spiked by a double-digit percentage, and AMD attributes that to both the launch of its Radeon RX 5700 cards, and its previous generation Radeon RX 500 (Polaris) series.

Navi is not the Turing (Nvidia's latest generation GPU) killer that some had hoped it would be, and as currently offered, it does not contain any specialized hardware for real-time ray tracing. However, performance is pretty good overall. In addition, future Navi GPUs will incorporate ray tracing hardware, including ones that will be featured in Microsoft's next Xbox console (Project Scarlett) and Sony's PlayStation 5, both of which could land late next year.

"We are well positioned for growth in the second half of the year as we continue to ramp our Radeon 5000 GPU family," Dr. Su says.

Between third-gen Ryzen being a hit and Navi putting AMD back in the GPU game, the crypto-hangover might soon be coming to an end. Finally.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).