An interesting quarter for AMD continues as I learned today that AMD’s Corporate Vice President and CTO of the Graphics Business Unit, Eric Demers, has decided to leave the company. Having just had dinner with Eric and other AMD executives last week I am more than surprised about this sudden change since Demers’ opinions of the roadmap for AMD were very positive.
First, here is the official statement from AMD:
"Eric Demers, AMD Corporate Vice President and CTO, Graphics Business Unit, has decided leave AMD to pursue other opportunities.
AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster will assume interim responsibility for the Graphics Business Unit CTO role until a replacement is found.
AMD remains fully committed to our critical graphics IP development and discrete GPU products. We have a tremendous depth of talent in our organization, a game plan that is resonating with our customers and our team, and we are continuing to bring graphics-performance-leading products to market. We will attract the right technology leader for this role.
We thank Eric for his contributions to the business and wish him well in his future endeavors."
As is usually the case with these types of announcements, everyone is being very hush-hush about where Demers will finally land though I can confirm that it is neither Intel nor NVIDIA. For those of you in the know about the industry and its current direction, that doesn’t leave a lot of other options and we are quite positive he will find a spot that fits his expertise.
Eric’s background goes back quite a ways and includes stops at SGI, ArtX, Matrox, ATI and finally AMD. He has been with ATI/AMD since April of 2000 (when David Orton first arrived from ATI) and rose to become the Chief Technology Officer of the graphics division as of mid-2009. I have personally known Eric as one of the best sources of knowledge about GPUs and technology shifts and I will miss being able to question him on the design decisions being made in our industry.
For AMD, this move comes right after the drastic shift announced by AMD’s new CEO Rory Read and new CTO Mark Papermaster to turn AMD into an SoC company. I attended that same analyst day and came away from the event feeling upbeat about the direction of the company and the individuals at the helm, Demers being one of them. The loss of Eric’s talents will definitely be missed though with the rest of the team intact I don’t think we’ll see any immediate negative impacts from his departure. Longer term though, we’ll just have to see.
The AMD rep I spoke with reiterated that this move had nothing to do with the newly hired executives and wasn’t caused by any kind of internal disagreements. Also, Demers did not express any kind of dissatisfaction with the direction of the company from a technological standpoint either. While that is good to hear, you just don’t leave a company after 12+ years without some reasons even if that reason is a better opportunity somewhere else.
Update on 2/14/2012 @ 11:53pm EST: According to this update from TheVerge.com, Demers may in fact end up at Qualcomm, the largest SoC vendor on the planet.
We’re hearing rumors that Demers will actually show up for work at Qualcomm, an interesting choice indeed: the company purchased AMD’s mobile graphics division and Imageon media processor back in 2009. You now know it as Qualcomm Adreno, and it’s the graphics solution in all Snapdragon-powered tablets and phones.