Executive Departs As AMD Forms Commercial Biz Unit

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After finding a new CEO, AMD announced executive Rick Bergman’s departure and Paul Struhsaker’s arrival

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which just last month named a new CEO following more than eight months of searching, is now looking for a new head for its Products Group unit.

AMD announced that Rick Bergman, who has been a top spokesman for many of AMD’s processor products over the past few years and most recently was general manager of the company’s Products Group, has left the chip maker and will be replaced on an interim basis by new CEO Rory Read.

New GM Launches Business Division

The company also announced that Paul Struhsaker (pictured), a former Comcast executive, will now be corporate vice president and general manager of AMD’s newly formed commercial business division, which includes AMD’s server, high-performance computing (HPC) products and embedded offerings.

The 49-year-old Struhsaker’s appointments comes just weeks before the official launch of AMD’s Operton 6200 Series “Interlagos” server chip, the first offering based on the “Bulldozer” core architecture. He had been senior vice president of engineering at Comcast, where he was responsible for all set-top box platforms and video server applications for Comcast Video Networks.

“The commercial market is vitally important for AMD and the addition of Paul to our team demonstrates our commitment to profitably grow our server business,” Read said in a statement. “Paul brings an extensive business management background and customer perspective on AMD’s commercial business opportunities.”

Bergman is leaving AMD to pursue a job opportunity at another company, according to an AMD spokesman. The spokesman declined to elaborate on Bergman’s plans, adding that he expects more details to emerge “in the coming weeks.”

A Turbulent Year

Bergman’s departure and Struhsaker’s arrival continue what has been a turbulent year within AMD’s executive line-up, one that began in January with the forced resignation of Dirk Meyer as CEO. That was followed by a number of other executive departures over the following months, including the resignations of Robert Rivet, AMD’s chief operations and administrative officer, and Marty Seyer, senior vice president of corporate strategy and the company face for many of its products, a month after Meyer left.

Meyer’s resignation came about a week after AMD launched its much-anticipated Fusion initiative, introducing new chips at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show that integrated high-level graphics capabilities and the CPU onto a single piece of silicon. Since that time, AMD has aggressively rolled out more Fusion APUs – or accelerated processing units, as the company calls them – for everything from mainstream notebooks and desktops to embedded systems.

The Fusion initiative has paid off for AMD, which has gained market share in the worldwide chip market that is still Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury, said AMD’s Fusion chips – and in particular its Fusion C-Series “Ontario” chips for smaller PCs and the A-Series “Llano” APUs for mainstream systems – fuelled the share growth.dominated by larger rival Intel. In July, Mercury Research analysts said that in the second quarter, AMD saw its market share grow to 19.4 percent – from 17.8 percent during the same time in 2010 – thanks in large part to its Fusion APUs. At the same time, Intel saw its share drop from 81.3 percent in the second quarter of 2010 to 79.9 percent this year.

“Together these devices allowed AMD to increase shipments in the mobile market by 10 percent, and enabled the company to out-ship the competition and gain market share in the second quarter,” McCarron said in a statement at the time.

Analysts also are high on the Bulldozer-based chips that are coming out, including Interlagos, which offers 12 to 16 cores and significant performance and energy-efficiency improvements over current Opteron offerings.

Looking For Tablets

Analysts have said they are waiting to see AMD make a stronger move into the mobile-computing space. AMD executives have said they are eyeing the tablet market but have no interest at this point of pursuing smartphones. The chip maker’s slow response to the booming mobile-computing market reportedly was a key point of difference between Meyer and the AMD board of directors, and one that fuelled the decision to force him out.

But despite slowing PC sales over the past year – which analysts have attributed to the rise of tablets and smartphones and the rush by consumers last year to buy new systems powered by Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system – Read has said he disagrees with the idea that the PC space is in decline, saying the traditional PC market will expand over the next five to 10 years.

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