Semiconductor Value Chain

Lisa Su Takes Helm at AMD

09 October 2014

Processor vendor Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has replaced Rory Read as its chief executive officer with Lisa Su, who was chief operating officer, with immediate effect and little explanation.

Read – who took over as CEO of AMD in 2011 – has stepped down as president, CEO and as a member of the board of directors but will stay on as an advisor through to the end of the 2014. to help with the transition at the top of the company, AMD said in a statement.

Prior to taking an executive role at AMD in January 2012, Su was senior vice president of networking and multimedia and served as chief technology officer at Freescale Semiconductor from 2007 to 2011. Prior to that Su spent 13 years at IBM in various engineering and management positions.

"Leadership succession planning has been a joint effort between Rory and the board and we felt that Lisa’s expertise and proven leadership in the global semiconductor industry make this an ideal time for her to lead the company," said Bruce Claflin, chairman of AMD's board of directors, in the statement.

Read's legacy

Read presided over a significant transition at AMD as it changed from defining itself as Intel's competitor in the PC processor market, and went after a broader range of embedded applications and pioneered novel technologies and market approaches such as the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA). Under Read AMD adopted the ARM processor architecture for some application sectors. In addition Read made a number of changes in senior management – one of which was the recruitment of Su, already identified within the industry as one of its rising stars.

While Read may be credited with pointing AMD in the right direction progress has been slow over the three years of his tenure. The company has been weighed down by slowness in its traditional PC market, and it appears that AMD felt the need to up the pace.

In an interview posted on YouTube as part of the announcement of her appointment Su said that first and foremost AMD was and would remain a product company under he leadership.

Su also made an oblique reference to the Internet of Things saying that one of her favorite statistics is the much-quoted prediction that by 2020 there will be 50 billion things connected to the Internet. This suggests that she wants AMD to get from under the PC legacy and into new markets as a matter of urgency.

In the interview Su said: "I want us to be simpler and faster." She added: "We have incredibly smart people. They're very talented. They know what needs to be done," and then continued: "Our goal is to empower those people to innovate, to get things done, simply, fast, decisively."

Su's academic, technical and business record is superb. She confessed in the interview: "If I sound like a technology geek, then that's probably because I am."

Su received bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was named Fellow of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers in 2009. Su was named 2014 Executive of the Year at the EE Times and EDN 2014 ACE Awards. She has also served on the board of directors of Analog Devices since 2012.

In the company statement Read said: "I am confident that Lisa is the right leader to drive AMD forward."

Related links and articles:

IHS semiconductors and components research

YouTube video interview

News articles:

AMD Demos Network Function Virtualization on ARM SoC

AMD Aims to Speed up Cloud Computing Market

AMD Launches 'Kaveri' Mobile APUs

AMD's 'Skybridge' Roadmap Includes ARM, X86 Cores

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