AMD announced today that it has hired two new executives to run its graphics division after the departure of Radeon Technologies Group’s previous lead. Raja Koduri left AMD in November to join Intel and launch its new Core and Visual Computing group, creating a hole in the leadership of this critical division at AMD. CEO Lisa Su filled in during Koduri’s sabbatical and subsequent exit, but the company had been searching for the right replacements since late last year.
Appointed as the senior vice president and GM of the Radeon Technologies Group, Mike Rayfield comes to AMD from previous stints at both Micron and NVIDIA. Rayfield will cover all aspects of the business management of AMD’s graphics division, including consumer, professional, game consoles, and the semi-custom division that recently announced a partnership with Intel. At Micron he served as the senior vice president of the Mobile Business Unit, responsible for company’s direction in working with wireless technology providers (smart phones, tablets, etc.) across various memory categories. While at NVIDIA, Rayfield was the general manager of the Mobile Business Unit helping to create the Tegra brand and products. Though in a different division at the time, Rayfield’s knowledge and experience in the NVIDIA organization may help AMD better address the graphics markets.
David Wang is now the senior vice president of engineering for the AMD Radeon Technologies Group and is responsible for the development of new graphics architectures, the hardware and software that integrate them, and the future strategy of where AMD will invest in graphics R&D. Wang is an alumni of AMD, working as corporate vice president for graphics IP and chip development before leaving in 2012 for Synaptics. David has more than 25 years of graphics and silicon experience, starting at LSI Logic, through ArtX, then ATI, before being acquired by AMD.
The hires come at a critical time for AMD. Though the processor division responsible for the Zen architecture and Ryzen/EPYC processors continues to make strong movement against the Intel dominated space, NVIDIA’s stranglehold on the graphics markets for gaming, machine learning, and autonomous driving are expanding the gap between the graphics chip vendors. The Vega architecture was meant to close it (at least somewhat) but NVIDIA remains the leader in the space by a not insignificant margin. Changing that is and should be AMD’s primary goal for the next few years.
AMD is hoping that by creating this two-headed spear of leadership for its Radeon graphics division it can get the group back on track. Rayfield will be taking over all business aspects of the graphics portion of AMD and that includes the addition of the semi-custom segment, previously a part of the EESC (Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom) group under senior vice president Forrest Norrod. AMD believes that with the growth and expansion of the enterprise segment with its EPYC processor family, and because the emphasis on the semi-custom group continues to be the advantage AMD holds in its graphics portfolio, the long-term strategy can be better executed with that group under the Radeon Technologies umbrella.
The return of Wang as the technical lead for the graphics division could bring significant positive momentum to the group that has struggled in the weeks leading up to the release of its Vega architecture. The product family based on that tech underwhelmed and had concerns over availability, pricing, and timing. Wang has a strong history in the graphics field, with experience as far back as any high-level graphics executive in the business. While at ATI and AMD, Wang worked on architectures from 2002 through 2012, with several periods of graphics leadership under his belt. Competing against the giant that NVIDIA has become will be a challenge that requires significant technical knowledge and risk-taking and Wang has the acumen to get it done.
AMD CEO Lisa Su expressed excitement and trust in the new graphics executives. “Mike and David are industry leaders who bring proven track records of delivering profitable business growth and leadership product roadmaps,” she says. “We enter 2018 with incredible momentum for our graphics business based on the full set of GPU products we introduced last year for the consumer, professional, and machine learning markets. Under Mike and David’s leadership, I am confident we will continue to grow the footprint of Radeon across the gaming, immersive, and GPU compute markets.”