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© beatricee _dreamstime.com Business | January 16, 2015

Interview: AMD transforming

AMD is probably one of the better known semiconductor-companies out there. However, a new technological playing field means AMD is transforming to cover more ground.
When I made my first entries into gaming, many a year ago (okay, a bit of a stretch as I started in the NES-era) AMD was a famous name. In fact, contrary to many companies in the semiconductor industry, AMD is well know outside of the professional sphere for its range of graphic processors and CPU:s.

However, AMD is now in a state of transition, meaning that the aim is to diversify the business model. Traditionally, 90 percent of AMD:s revenues has been coming from the established AMD-markets such as GPU:s and CPUs. Now, the goal is a 50/50 split with what is called adjacent markets, says Carl Nyqvist, head of Embedded Sales and Business Development at AMD in EMEA.

"We are well on this path at roughly 40-60 at the moment. By implementing these changes we hope to make AMD a broader company and this is something that we really want to tell the market."

One key factor to go further down this path is the newly appointed CEO Lisa Su, hailing from a strong technology background.

"We had a planned transition between Lisa and Rory (Former CEO, editors note). Rory is an operational and financial transformer. When he started working at AMD three and a half years ago AMD was doing many things. He picked fields that could be catalysts to transformation and then he started to engage with those customers. Rory understood that we could create a business out of this," says Kamal Khouri, director of product management and marketing at AMD embedded solutions.

Of course, one of the segments where AMD today is trying to make a push is in the embedded market. In this niche segment AMD sees a few trends which will create new business for them in the future:

"Embedded technology is becoming more casual in a way. We see a need for more information on the factory floors, in stores and in the interaction between man and machine. Another pillar of change is that today you have two dominating architectures: ARM and x86. We see that the architecture is not the issue for a product. The problem is that if you chose one you can't have the benefits of the other. We want to be what I like to call ambidextrous and to change the computer paradigm, that is why we have launched HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture). We are all about open source and we do not want to lock customers our because they made a choice" Kamal explains.

Okay, so what is this HSA? To borrow AMD:s description: HSA creates an improved processor design that exposes the benefits and capabilities of mainstream programmable compute elements, working together seamlessly. Four vectors are central: improved power efficiency; improved performance; improved programmability; and broad portability across computing devices.

The future om AMD:s Embedded segment

So, AMD is going forward with a clear embedded focus as one of the new legs upon which the business will stand. What does this mean further down the road?

"We see that the investments in the embedded sector is growing, For us it is a matter of bringing in people with the right experience. We have doubled the embedded sales and Field Applications Engineer headcount and we are making significantly higher investments in the R&D. Embedded fits well into the rest of the company as the life cycles are longer. At the same time you have a trend where everything becomes connected and for embedded applications there are always special demands; rough climates or industrial environments for example," says Carl Nyqvist.

"We carefully select the key markets we play in. We look at where we have our strengths and then we go after that aggressively. Graphics, display, multimedia, longevity and connectivity are all examples of that along with low power. For us it is a very deliberate choice, very precise and very focused. With our strengths, we try to address as much of the embedded industry as we can," Kamal concludes.

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