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AMD announces energy-efficient quad-core processors, executive changes

AMD has announced new low-voltage versions of its quad-core Opteron processor as well as changes to its management lineup.

On Monday, May 12, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) made some major announcements; one that involves products; the other, management changes within the company.

AMD introduced energy-efficient quad-core processors and an integrated memory controller in a lower, 55-watt ACP thermal envelope on Monday. This compares with the standard 75-W ACP quad-core Opteron processors.

Blade and rack systems based on five new low-power quad-core AMD Opteron HE (highly efficient) processors are now widely available from global OEMs and solution providers.

For more on processors:
AMD completes 45-nm processor, but quad-core Opteron delayed

Intel launches four-socket Xeon 7300 quad-core processor

Before upgrading to quad-core, consider your applications

Like the standard quad-core Opteron's, these energy efficient versions also include AMD's PowerNow power management and virtualization technology, AMD-V.Quad-Core AMD Opteron HE processors are available in both the 2300 and 8300 Series for two-, four- and eight-way rack servers and blades.

The new processors have set performance records against Intel's low power quad-core Xeon processors, including top scores for SPECfp_rate2006 in both two- and four-processor configurations.

To the degree that this represents legitimate change based on lessons learned from Barcelona, I see that as a positive.
Gordon Haff,
analystIlluminata Inc.

In March 2007, Intel Corp. announced its low-voltage quad-core Xeon processors, with energy-efficient 50 W server processors that consume 35% to 60% less power compared with its other 80 W and 120 W quad-core server products.

Organizational changes at AMD
The company also announced several organizational and executive changes as part of AMD's "ongoing efforts to re-architect its business" to sustain profitability. Of course, the assumption is that people were "re-organized" as a result of the Barcelona fallout -- where the company announced the release of its Barcelona processor in September, but due to an errata, shipments didn't happen for another seven months, giving rival Intel Corp. a significant lead in the quad-core processor market.

Mario Rivas, formerly the executive vice president of AMD's Computing Solutions Group, and Michel Cadieux, formerly senior vice president and chief talent officer, have left AMD. In April Phil Hester, AMD's chief technical officer, resigned and has not been replaced.

AMD veteran Randy Allen has moved from AMD's Server and Workstation business to the role of SVP for the Computing Solutions Group, reporting to President and COO Dirk Meyer. Allen is now responsible for the development and management of AMD's portfolio of consumer and commercial microprocessor products.

Previously, Allen oversaw microprocessor engineering for the company, including introduction of the Opteron and Athlon 64 processors.

AMD has also added a "central engineering" group to direct the development and execution of AMD's technology and product roadmaps in partnership with AMD's business units, and the group will report to Myer. AMD recently revamped its roadmap and announced plans to have 12-core processors on the market by 2010.

The engineering group is being co-led by Chekib Akrout, who left his position as the vice president of design technology at Freescale Semiconductor to join AMD, and Jeff VerHeul is now AMD's corporate vice president of design engineering.

Prior to his tenure at Freescale, Akrout worked at IBM Corp. and managed the development of products including microprocessors. He was responsible for IBM's work on the development of the Cell processor, the Xbox 360 processor for Microsoft, and embedded PowerPC cores.

VerHeul joined AMD in August 2005 after a twenty-five year career with IBM. Most recently, he led the AMD's microprocessor design engineering organization.

Though AMD has not attributed these changes to its bumpy quad-core processor roll-out, Gordon Haff, an analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc. said, "To the degree that this represents legitimate change based on lessons learned from Barcelona, I see that as a positive. AMD has admitted to mistakes and, although I don't especially subscribe to the "on general principle, heads must roll" school of management, it does indicate a certain resolve."

Haff said, "The formation of a centralized engineering group does, in any case, lend credence to AMD's claim that they're looking to bring more structure and rigor to their processes."

Meanwhile, AMD plans to cut 10% of its workforce, or about 1,600 workers, and the company may negotiate deals that will allow it to outsource some of its manufacturing to other companies, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

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