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AMD executive reshuffle raises questions

by on13 January 2015

As chipmaker looks forward to 2016

Just weeks after he made a splashing video and comments about the upcoming Carrizo APU, John Byrne is leaving AMD. He has been working as Senior Vice President and new General Manager of AMD Computing & Graphics Business Unit, reporting directly to the Lisa Su, the new CEO.

Byrne worked for AMD since 2007 when AMD acquired his company called Advanced Technologies Inc and VML Ltd. He worked at several senior positions including VP Worldwide Graphics and Chipset Sales,

Corporate Vice President of WW Channel and SMB Sales, Corporate Vice President & General Manager Americas Mega Region, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Global Accounts, Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer and his last role was the Senior Vice President and General Manager at AMD for the 2,000-strong compute group.

It is his time to leave AMD and he wants to focus on his young family, at least for some time. Since John is a very energetic person we would not be surprised to see him in another IT company, but AMD didn’t want to comment on his future plans. We wish him all the best, as I’ve known John for more than a decade, while I was still at the Inquirer.

Leadership reshuffle prompts speculation

The other major person to leave is Colette LaForce who used to work as Chief Marketing Officer. She joined AMD in 2012 from Dell and was responsible for probably the best GPU launch in the history of the GPUs. She and her team pulled of the Hawaii launch last year, which was a major success, with tens of thousands of people following the live stream. The R9 290X, codenamed Hawaii, was one of the more successful GPUs in a while for AMD, with some new parts on the horizon. We hope she will also do well at her next job.

The last on this list is Rajan Naik, AMD’s Chief Strategy Officer also hired in 2012. He came from the McKinsey & Company and we don’t know much about him.

We can only speculate the reasons why these people are going after Lisa Su got the CEO position, but we remember that a similar scenario played out at Intel.

After Brian Krzanich and Rene James got the job of CEO and President respectively, prompting David Dadi Perlmutter to leave. We have no idea whether there are any similarities between these two cases, but we are sure that AMD is becoming a new company.

It’s not uncommon in many industries. When people feel left out or skipped in the line of succession, they can leave for one reason or another. It is also too early to say who will replace Byrne, LaForce and Naik in the long run.

AMD is already looking forward to 2016

With Carrizo lined up for 2015, there will be a desktop non-Carrizo part to refresh Kaveri, as well as Caribbean Islands with Fiji on board as a GPU refresh. 

Carrizo and Carrizo-L will not make it to desktop, but some of the tech developed for the new part could be reused in upcoming desktop chips as well. We also expect to hear more about HSA, custom APUs and ARM server parts. 

As far as GPUs go, both AMD and Nvidia have been forced to skip TSMC’s 20nm node for technical and economic reasons. It is simply not worth the effort and they will have to wait for new 14nm and 16nm FinFET nodes from Samsung/GlobalFoundries and TSMC.

The really cool stuff is coming in 2016 and beyond, when the new designs kick in, but AMD needs to sail through the year increasing both its CPU/APU market share as well as GPU market. It won’t be easy but it can be done. The company made some headway in the professional GPU market in 2014 and this year it could focus its efforts on a couple of niches.

Last modified on 13 January 2015
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