New AMD CEO faces challenges in mobile

AMD's new CEO Rory Read will have to make the company competitive versus Intel and ARM

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Newly minted Advanced Micro Devices CEO Rory Read faces a challenge in turning around the company's mobile strategy to wage a competitive battle against rivals Intel and ARM.

AMD on Thursday said it hired Lenovo executive Read as the new CEO after an exhaustive search that started in January. Read previously was the president and chief operating officer at Lenovo where he helped transform the company into the world's third-largest PC maker.

AMD has many challenges that Read will have to immediately address. The company wants to push its successful Fusion PC chips into tablets, a market in which it has virtually no presence. AMD also lost share in the high-margin server processor market to Intel, though it gained overall share in the sagging PC chip market.

Read will spend his first 100 days as CEO learning about the company's markets, exploring growth opportunities and forging relationships, he said on a conference call. AMD has opportunities to push its low-power Fusion chips into new markets and to grow in the cloud and data center infrastructure markets with the company's upcoming Opteron server chips, which will include up to 16 cores, Read said.

AMD began looking for a CEO after former chief Dirk Meyer resigned due to a disagreement with board of directors on the company's future mobile strategy. Read has taken a job many reportedly shied away from, including Pat Gelsinger, formerly Intel's chief technology officer and senior vice president and now EMC's chief operating officer; newly appointed Apple CEO, Tim Cook; and Mark Hurd, a co-president at Oracle who formerly was Hewlett-Packard's CEO.

Analysts expressed relief that AMD finally found a CEO, which helps the company move forward with planning and execution of the chip road map. Read may not be as well-known as other potential candidates, but is a credible executive who will strengthen relationships with PC and device makers.

AMD clearly wants a stronger mobile presence and a key to that is a strong relationship with PC makers, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research. Despite gaining share, AMD's presence in the mobile market is weak. AMD's x86 microprocessor market share was 19.4 percent during the second quarter this year, compared to a 79.9 percent share for Intel, according to Mercury Research.

Reed will use his past experience at Lenovo to boost AMD's sales of chips for PCs, wrote analysts for FBR Capital Markets in a research note sent on Thursday.

"We do think Read can and will leverage his relationships at Lenovo to help drive AMD's sales, and at IBM to help drive AMD's research and development and foundry strategies," wrote the FBR Capital Markets analysts.

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