AMD Reorganizes Business Units; Names Dr. Lisa Su as COOby Ryan Smith on June 13, 2014 11:00 AM EST
In a move that will mark a mild shake up in how AMD operates, AMD has announced that they will be undergoing a company reorganization next month. Come July 1st, AMD will be consolidating their various business groups into just two groups, and overseeing those groups will be Dr. Lisa Su, who will become the company’s new Chief Operating Officer (COO).
AMD is citing the reorganization as the latest step in their efforts to transform the company, a process that started in earnest over two years ago in 2012. Since then the company has been making changes to move away from its traditional cost-heavy PC CPU and GPU roots and towards a structure that is focused on mobile (x86 and ARM), semi-custom silicon, and other market areas with lower margins but also lower costs that are more sustainable for a company of AMD’s size and capabilities. AMD is nearing the end of that transformation – after years of losses they’re now approaching profitability at their desired margins – with AMD realigning their business groups ahead of some of their final steps, including becoming a fully ambidextrous company through designs such as the K12 CPU.
As part of that general transformation AMD’s business groups have already begun to overlap some, so now AMD is taking the next step by making it official and consolidating the relevant groups. AMD’s client, consumer graphics, and professional graphics groups will now be combined under a single group, the Computing and Graphics Business Group. By bringing together those three groups like this, this change effectively consolidates all of AMD’s core technology teams in to the same group, CPU and GPU alike. In this case in particular the lines between CPU and GPU have already been blurring for some time, with the bulk of AMD’s “CPU” business having shifted to APUs (CPUs with integrated graphics), so in a sense this is the formalization of the fact that AMD cannot build complete CPUs without technology from their graphics group.
Meanwhile AMD’s second group will be the Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom Business Group. This group consolidates the server, embedded, and semi-custom groups under one roof. This structure does mean CPUs are essentially split – an Opteron sale is now an Enterprise sale rather than being kept with the Computing group CPU sales – but otherwise this marks the combining of AMD’s “fringe” groups such as SeaMicro and the semi-custom groups, which in contrast to the core technology focused Computing group are focused on building designs and applications around AMD’s core technologies.
Both of these new groups will also see their relevant sales appendages integrated into them. AMD currently has a separate sales division, which will no longer be the case after the reorganization.
Heading up these groups both directly and indirectly will be Dr. Lisa Su, who is getting a promotion from Senior VP and GM of Global Business Units to the C-level position of Chief Operating Officer (COO). AMD has not had a COO for a few years now, so this marks the return of that position to AMD’s executive organization and arguably makes Lisa AMD's second-in-command. Meanwhile AMD’s Chief Sales Officer, John Byrne, will also be getting a promotion of his own, which will see him move up to SVP and GM of the Computing group.
In regards to AMD’s new structure, Lisa will be taking direct control of the Enterprise group on an interim basis. Meanwhile Lisa will have indirect oversight of the Computing group, with John serving as GM of that group and reporting to Lisa. Lisa in turn will now report directly to CEO Rory Read.
Ultimately the consolidation of AMD’s businesses is not unexpected, especially on the core technology side where APUs and AMD’s HSA initiative has greatly worn away the distinctions between CPUs and GPUs. Meanwhile the shifts in leadership bring with it new mangers and new reporting structures, so although things will be changing at AMD it doesn’t sound like AMD’s development processes will be affected on the whole – though management shifts often come with smaller internal changes.
But perhaps the single most visible change from this may end up being how AMD reports their financials. Currently AMD separates their CPU and GPU businesses as the Computing Solutions and Graphics Solutions respectively, with Graphics also including semi-custom business and game console royalties. If AMD changes their financial reporting to match their new businesses then we’d be able to more easily see how AMD’s semi-custom and console businesses stack up, but AMD’s CPU and GPU businesses would be indistinguishable. AMD hasn’t commented on the matter in their press release, so we’ll have to see what they do for their Q3’14 results later this year (where the combined groups will have been in effect for a whole quarter). Update: AMD tells us that we can expect an update on how they'll be reporting financials in their Q2 earnings call next month.
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bwat47 - Saturday, June 14, 2014 - linkyep, current intel cpu's are barely even much faster than sandybridge. without competition they just sit on their hands and slowly iterate, while keeping prices high.
MartinT - Saturday, June 14, 2014 - linkThis claim is so silky in the face of the facts, one has to wonder how much attention you have paid to the CPU market of the past decade.
Intel just introduced a 500 MHz bump for free.
Prices have been stable since the introduction of Conroe 8 years ago, when Intel obliterated AMD by introducing a $320 CPU that outperformed any AMD part, and used a lot less energy to do it, too.
Which is in shark contrast to what AMD did shortly after gaining the CPU crown: they raised prices from $700 to $800 to over $1000 while holding performance back with only 600 extra MHz over the course of 2 2/3rds years.
alacard - Sunday, June 15, 2014 - linkInteresting points, but with regard to your last statement i'd argue that the reason Intel prices aren't higher is simply that they've reached a state of nash equilibrium, in which raising them would not only create a net loss in revenue, but also damage their brand and cause users to start thinking about and researching alternatives.
Intel finds itself in a situation in which most users already have a rig that's fast enough for their needs, and the only way you could get them to maybe, possibly upgrade is if the costs are reasonable (as in more performance for not more than what they're used to paying). Intel can't sell chips if no one wants them, keeping prices stable each generation is a way to keep sales in some sort of equilibrium with their release schedule.
MartinT - Monday, June 16, 2014 - linkAgreed, FABs need to be used to be profitable, but I doubt there would have been a meaningful impact on Intel's utilization if they had offered the 4790K at $5xx rather than $3xx.
That they did not, and have not after years without meaningful competition in that space, should be plenty of answer to the 'Intel's keeping the prices high' crowd.
Antronman - Sunday, June 22, 2014 - linkIntel has to compete with it's own products.
If they released the 4790k at $5xx, nobody would buy it because they could just grab a 4770k for $330, and have performance just a little ways behind, yet they'd save $200 for other parts and peripherals.
If they had released the 4770k at $5xx, people would have bought the 3770k instead, at $330, same situation as the 4790k.
Intel actually does keep its price higher. How do you think they get a profit margin so high? They charge more for individual units, as well as charge more for system building companies like HP and Dell.
Intel knows just how to perform this fine balancing act of keeping prices high enough to make massive profits, yet not so high as to discourage current customers from upgrading and potential customers from taking some of their pricier, more high-end products.
It costs more money for AMD to make their FX processors, yet intel charges much more for their processors.
The around-the-corner i7-5960x is to be sold at $1000. The FX-9590 is sold at $350ish.
Morg72 - Saturday, June 14, 2014 - linkA big problem for AMD is brand recognition. Many of my clients have no idea who AMD is, but can clearly identify Intel. When i hear about "Intel Marketing" I think of the Blue Man Group commercials, when I hear AMD Marketing, all i can think of it tech news releases. Intel made themselves a household name and AMD was relegated to being known as a cheaper alternative to Intel, like an off-brand. Even in the days where they had superior CPU's, they were only really known as an Intel alternative. They really need to find a way to make themselves better known. I have never seen a AMD commercial of any kind.
I was hoping AMD was just "playing possum" and would release a great CPU to send Intel reeling, but with this, I can't see that ever happening.
nunya112 - Sunday, June 15, 2014 - linkno one cares. AMD are too far behind intel on CPU tech they may as well just become a GPU only company.
AMD did a PR thing about going to space, and instead of getting good positive thoughts about it. every comment and post was telling them to get back to work! AMD has a cult following because its early days they really did hurt big CPU and ppl loved them for it. now they do nothing 4 the investors but cost us money
Antronman - Sunday, June 22, 2014 - linkWrong, wrong wrong oh so wrong.
Sorry, but you're wrong.
AMD was ahead when they used Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT) architectures. (Intel still does). Both dealt with the same problems and advantages, but AMD was just much better at manipulating SMT to get maximum power. They designed their architectures to be able to run circles around intel. Then, with Bulldozer, they tried to run even bigger circles around intel, by creating a Clustered Multi-Threading (CMT, or modular) architecture. 1 module was 2 out-of-order cores that shared early pipeline stages. Each one had different independent resources (cache, etc.) Basically, with Sandybridge coming up AMD needed to fight the emerging hyper-threaded threat. So they did the opposite, hoping it would speed up processing. They made it so that each core in each module was single-threaded, and together, 1 module = 2 threads. It was horribly inefficient. The modules took up a lot of die space, and needed a lot of power to satisfy their need to supply each module. They were absolutely crushed by multithreaded performance, and single because a single-threaded app would be split apart in the early pipeline, but a multi-threaded app would be condensed in the later pipeline stages.
AMD recently announced that excavator (2016) would be SMT. Fingers crossed for another big one from the comeback king.
On top of that, looking at intel's release patterns, we see this:
Sandybridge (Q1 2011)
Ivybridge (Q3 2011)
Haswell (Q3 2013)
Haswell refresh (Q2 2014)
Broadwell (Q1 2015)
Skylake (2016 or 2017???)
Their gap is widening, and while tick-tock says Skylake should be 2016, intel hasn't used tick-tock for long enough for us to be able to predict everything, and if you look at the widening gap, it started half a year apart, now it's a year apart, so it could be 2 years apart.
WC20 - Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - linkIf this was a generic situation you would be correct; however, AMD doesn't own the x86 instruction set, they license it from Intel. The cross-licensing agreement doesn't permit AMD to license the ISA to anyone else thereby requiring them to sell the chips to Microsoft and Sony. AMD makes a profit selling the chips and not royalities as is the norm.
WC20 - Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - linkOops...that reply didn't "reply" to the correct post.