Two major pieces of AMD news have crossed the wire today, and both could be good news for the struggling chip company. First, AMD is announcing a major reorganization of its graphics division. The entire graphics team will now be headed by Raja Koduri, including all aspects of GPU architecture, hardware design, driver deployments, and developer relations. Koduri left AMD for Apple in 2009, only to return to the company in 2013. Since then, he’s served as the Corporate Vice President of Visual Computing.
Now, Raja is being promoted to senior vice president and chief architect of AMD’s entire graphics business (dubbed the Radeon Technologies Group). In this new role, Koduri will oversee the development of future console hardware, AMD’s FirePro division, the GPU side of APUs, and all of AMD’s graphics designs on 14/16nm. Bringing all of these elements under one roof, along with developer relations and driver development, will allow AMD to unify its approach to various products that have previously been managed by different departments. This could pay significant dividends in areas like driver management and feature updates, which have previously been handled by other teams that reported to different managers. Koduri is well-respected in the industry and we’ve heard that the R9 Nano, which debuts in the verynear future, was a project he championed at AMD.
Based on what we’ve heard, AMD isn’t just shuffling employees on a spreadsheet — it’s looking to increase its investment in graphics products as well. While we wouldn’t expect the company to suddenly hurl huge amounts of money at the concept, this is an excellent time to make prudent additional expenditures in the GPU market. 14/16nm GPUs will come to market next year, with significant performance and power consumption improvements. The advent of HBM2 will allow for larger frame buffers and could turbo-charge AMD’s future Zen-based APUs. If AMD seizes these technological opportunities and capitalizes on the recent launch of DirectX 12, it’ll be in a much stronger competitive position 12-18 months from now.
Did Silver Lake acquire part of AMD?
There’s a rumor making the rounds today that Silver Lake Partners may have purchased a significant stake in AMD. Fudzilla reports that Silver Lake Partners, which owns significant shares in Avagao, Alibaba, and Dell, may have purchased a 20% share of the company. Such a move would inject much-needed capital into AMD and likely negate the need to take on additional debt to finance continuing operations.
If the rumor proves true, it suggests that Silver Lake saw something in AMD’s future roadmap that they felt justified the investment stake. Such an announcement would likely buoy the company’s rather battered stock price, while the fresh cash injection could help AMD hit its production targets for 2016 and beyond. Even if Zen and AMD’s first ARM-based hardware both hit the ground running in 2016, it’ll take time for AMD to rebuild its overall market position.
As always, take financial rumors with a grain of salt.