AMD’s Neil Spicer on accelerating the pace of innovation for high-performance computing

As is the nature of the products that it makes, AMD is one of those companies that has managed to embed itself into the tech industry. From its Ryzen processors to its Radeon graphics cards, you’d struggle to find a technology-focused news site or publication that doesn’t bring up a gazillion results when typing “AMD” into the search bar.

The company’s vision reads: “Immersive and instinctive computing will transform our lives”. While this might sound somewhat extravagant, with AMD’s technology powering products made by such a vast number of brands – Acer, ASUS, HP, OcUK, Lenovo, SCAN, PCSpecialist, Zoostorm and Zotact to name just a few – it looks like the company is well on its way to realising that vision. And AMD’s latest revenue report further strengthens this case.

The company reported revenues of $6.48 billion for the fiscal year 2018 – up 23% year-over-year, which AMD says was primarily driven by higher revenue in the computing and graphics segment.

“In 2018 we delivered our second straight year of significant revenue growth, market share gains, expanded gross margin and improved profitability based on our high-performance products. Importantly, we more than doubled our EPYC processor shipments sequentially and delivered record GPU datacenter revenue in the quarter,” said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO, commenting on the results. “Despite near- term graphics headwinds, 2019 is shaping up to be another exciting year, driven by the launch of our broadest and most competitive product portfolio ever with our next-generation 7nm Ryzen, Radeon, and EPYC products.”

Already, AMD has seen success in 2019, with the company delivering its first CES keynote where it announced the world’s first 7nm gaming GPU, the AMD Radeon VII. The tech world lapped this up, and numerous machine makers are already urging their product designers to crack on with solutions that will make the most of AMD’s latest innovations.

With over 18 years’ experience in the IT channel business, AMD’s vice president of global channel sales, Neil Spicer, has been involved in many successful product launches from the company, including Ryzen processors and Radeon RX series graphics cards.

Many of you may recognise him from 2018’s PCR Awards, where Spicer accepted AMD’s Company of the Year award. A year on from winning the coveted title, we caught up with him to find out what the manufacturer has been up to since its PCR Awards win:

What did it mean to AMD to win the Company of the Year award at last year’s ceremony?

We’re thrilled at the overwhelmingly positive response received from the PCR editorial team and the channel who have recognised AMD for delivering industry-changing products for businesses, enthusiasts, creators and gamers.

One of the reasons AMD was picked for the PCR Award was how its Ryzen processors brought choice back to the market. How has this brand evolved since this time last year?

We’ve been focused on developing Ryzen to improve a wide range of user experiences. 2nd Gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors are driving a transformation of HEDT and the overall PC market by offering customers up to 32-cores and 64-threads, purpose built for prosumers who crave raw computational compute power. We’ve also added new games bundles to our range of AMD Ryzen processors and Radeon RX graphics cards which we think our customers will love.

In general, how important are accolades and recognition from the channel to AMD?

Recognition is hugely important to AMD, as it expresses the impact our products are having in the market, and the appreciation for the industry-leading innovation AMD brings, as well as our leading-edge technologies for high- performance computing.

AMD had a lot to show at this year’s CES. Can you talk us through some of the biggest announcement and products?

CES was a very exciting event for us and it’s the first time AMD has given a keynote at the show. Our President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su announced the world’s first 7nm gaming GPU, AMD Radeon VII, designed to give exceptional performance and amazing experiences in the latest AAA games and VR titles.

We also revealed our 3rd Generation Ryzen Processors that will be built using world-leading 7nm process technology. We expect it to be the first CPU to support PCIe 4.0 connectivity and will offer better gaming, creating, and streaming experiences than ever before. Finally, we showed the world’s first 7nm datacenter CPU, codenamed “Rome” based on our “Zen 2” x86 core. We showed a single pre-production EPYC “Rome” processor go against two high-end Intel Xeon processors, with the EPYC processor delivering about 15% higher performance. EPYC “Rome” is very exciting for us as EPYC-based systems will help scientists to advance their research and get closer to finding out the next big solutions.

The company was recently selected for the 2019 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. Can you tell us why this is important and how AMD is promoting gender equality throughout the business?

We believe that empowering our employees to bring their unique perspective, voice and passion to work every day makes AMD a more innovative, productive and effective company.

What advancements are you looking forward to most in the processor space in the near future?

The leading-edge 7nm technology is incredibly exciting for us and for the industry. We made big bets several years ago to accelerate the pace of innovation for high-performance computing, and 2019 will be an inflection point in the industry as we bring these new 7nm products to market including our 7nm Radeon Graphics, 7nm AMD Ryzen processors, and AMD EPYC processors.

What can we expect to see from AMD in 2019 and beyond?

You can expect us to continue executing in computing, gaming and visualisation technologies in 2019 with AMD’s advanced computing and graphics designs and 7nm technology. From our 7nm Radeon graphics chips to our next- generation 7nm AMD Ryzen and AMD EPYC processors, it’s going to be an exciting year for AMD and the industry.

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