January 3, 2008 4:00 AM PST

Dirk Meyer, the man to watch at AMD

(continued from previous page)

There is a big gap between Meyer's skills with customers and those of Ruiz, according to one source.

"Dirk is still close to the Excel spreadsheet. Technical skills can be acquired and trained, but it's the soft skills that are more difficult for people and some never get them," the source said. Ruiz has transformed AMD from an also-ran in the world of business technology to a consistent presence in data centers around the world. And while having a hot product such as Opteron certainly helped, Ruiz has forged regular and real relationships with AMD's top customers in order to make things stick.

An AMD representative declined to comment specifically on the source's comment, but noted that AMD's chip group--on the back of the Opteron processor--enjoyed a period of sales and marketing success while Meyer was in charge of the organization.

Meyer will also have to win over--or get rid of--employees brought into AMD by Ruiz who remain fiercely loyal to the man but might be partially responsible for AMD's troubles, according to another source. Clearly, a lot of people must have had a bad year for AMD to reach this point.

Meet the new boss?
Despite its troubles, AMD isn't going anywhere just yet: PC and server companies don't want to rely on a single source for x86 processors, and Intel executives know they can't really afford to bury AMD and open themselves up to the same kind of antitrust scrutiny at home that the company is facing in Europe and Asia.

But just as it did in 2002 before the launch of Opteron, when the company was losing truckloads of money, AMD finds itself in a precarious position. After squandering its chance to make a dent in the quad-core server market during 2007, the company will have to hold the fort in 2008 against strong products from Intel while waiting for its next generation of processors.

Fusion is AMD's project to integrate a CPU and a GPU onto a single chip, which could dramatically improve graphics performance if AMD can meet the engineering challenges. This is why AMD snapped up ATI and--just like Opteron did--it could vault AMD ahead of its larger competitor. But AMD doesn't expect to have Fusion chips ready until 2009 at the earliest.

Perhaps a more pragmatic Meyer is now starting to assert himself following the Barcelona experience. In late 2007, AMD changed its strategy for Fusion. It now plans to introduce Fusion chips for notebooks in 2009 that will be a combination of a new GPU design and an existing CPU design, rather than trying to build a completely new design based on the "Bulldozer" core outlined in 2007.

The Sandtiger processor--based on the Bulldozer cores--will now have to wait until 2010, an AMD representative confirmed. The representative declined to elaborate on who was responsible for that decision, but noted that this time around, the company's customers approve of the decision to minimize risk.

According to sources, AMD's board has shown some irritation at the lack of AMD's execution, but a number of the members don't have a technical background in the PC and server industries. As a result, they rely heavily, like a number of corporate boards, on management's assessment and recommendations. Those recommendations haven't worked out so well over the past 12 months, and further missteps could be impossible to ignore. AMD declined to make any of its directors available for comment.

If the board of directors forces Ruiz to step down before Meyer is ready to take over, AMD's struggles could continue. And perhaps more troubling is the fact that if AMD continues to struggle under Meyer's guidance in 2008, the company may have to shred its succession plan and start from scratch.

Previous page
Page 1 | 2 | 3

See more CNET content tagged:
AMD, CEO

8 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
softer sales-and-marketing touch?
The world unfortunately revolves around sales and marketing types, they are usually promoted to the highest level of incompetence.
Posted by ColdMast (186 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Peter Principle
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peter_Principle" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peter_Principle</a>
Posted by ColdMast (186 comments )
Link Flag
A different perspective
Well as far sales and marketing folks being CEOs I think that it's a matter of old school business. Were you have the original standard business types that have been around for hundreds to thousands of years and it's simply a case of that is how it has been. Although perhaps technology has been around with them in one form or another those folks were looked upon as skilled labor not business types. It is the second have of the twentieth century that you have that slowly begin to change.

You have an arrogance among the old school types and thus their common mis perception that soft/people skills can't be taught but hard or technical skills can and it is these soft skills that matter. Quite the reverse is typically true. You can always put the people skilled folks in positions were they matter other then CEO. However you either have an aptitude for math and other High Tech skills or you don't. Which brings to mind the story about throwing manure against the side of a barn and making it stick it's not a hard skill to learn.

The bottom line is that AMD was growing hand over fist while Intel was tripping over it's own feet from 1999 to about 2006. AMD had gained enormous market share. For what ever reason the powers that be at AMD decided to emulate Intel and sit on their hands. Technology upgrades slowed to a snails pace over the years and once Intel stopped floundering with gimmicks and bullying they got serious and reintroduced technology to their products and turned it around. AMD continued to sit on their hands until the loss of market share finally woke somebody up who took notice. Unfortunately it was one of the old school types and instead of getting off their backside and going full speed ahead with technology they simply pulled a play from the old school book and purchased ATI which began a very serious downward spiral and has nearly cast them into financial ruin.

Sales and marketing folks can certainly sell a lousy product they can even sell a nonexistent product as well. That doesn't make them good CEOs nor better suited for that position then the folks who dream up real products and the processes that are needed to make them. Perhaps it's time for the old guard to step aside and let somebody with a brain take charge for a change.
Posted by processeon (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad Strategy
Ruiz is doing a fine job as a CEO, in my opinion. It's a mistake to replace Ruiz with Meyer. Meyer used to work for Intel, so he thinks like Intel. This is the last think AMD needs, someone who can't see beyond Intel's playground. AMD needs to find a tech visionary who is willing to stop playing Intel's game and forge a new market. Now that the industry is beginning to take its first painful steps away from sequential computing toward massive parallelism, AMD has the chance of a lifetime to redefine the multicore CPU market and leave Intel holding an empty bag. AMD must re-evaluate the current state of the art in parallel computing and determine what is wrong with it. And there is a lot that is wrong with it (see link below). As soon as they can identify the real nature of the problem, they can formulate a solution that will corner the market. I'm sure Meyer is an excellent engineer but I doubt very much that he has the sort of vision that will catapult AMD into a leadership position in this cut-throat market.

The Age of Crappy Concurrency: Erlang, Tilera, AMD, IBM, Freescale, etc...
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://rebelscience.blogspot.com/2007/09/age-of-crappy-concurrency-erlang-tilera.html" target="_newWindow">http://rebelscience.blogspot.com/2007/09/age-of-crappy-concurrency-erlang-tilera.html</a>
Posted by eightwings (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hmmmmm
The problem is that they "are" playing Intel's old game of sitting on technology. Intel had a near total monopoly when it did that and it eventually lead to AMD getting with in a stones throw of being on an equal footing with Intel's share of the CPU market.

AMD "was" past tense an innovator of current technology and with the Athlon the new. They stayed the course with DDR and quickly introduced new and improved technology into their products such as ATA well before Intel and often going beyond Intel. That is what got them the to point of having Intel well with in their sights. Then along can Hector Ruiz and he introduced the old Intel sit on your hands and wait routine. Don't know much about Dirk Meyers but they definitely need someone who can both straighten out their current mess and start introducing a steady stream of new innovative technology again. More to the point with out making another acquisition nor selling FABs. Which of course the latter is the old school mentality.

The old school boys sit on a product until the market for it dies and then simply buys and sells companies, assists and stocks. They don't have the brain God gave a gnat when it comes to growing a business into an icon.
Posted by processeon (2 comments )
Link Flag
Time to buy AMD? AMD a bargain stock?
Dirk Meyer was *the man* personally responsible for the Athlon coming out and saving AMD ass in 2003. He's known to be a difficult guy to work with, but so is Steve Jobs. What I do know about him, is that he's a great engineer and surely the right person to make the AMD/ATI merger work in the *long term*. If your willing to go long, bet on Captain Dirk.

Considering that AMD is at a 5 year low, it seems that it is a good time to buy AMD. Here's a detailed analysis that I've read, by someone who has been buying AMD during this downturn.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://amdinvestor.com/2007/12/27/what-do-you-think-amd-is-worth-an-amd-stock-analysis/" target="_newWindow">http://amdinvestor.com/2007/12/27/what-do-you-think-amd-is-worth-an-amd-stock-analysis/</a>

Yes it's true that AMD has had a bad year, and will have another bad year to come, but for those willing to hold, it could be profitable?
Posted by hicamproject (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.