Omar Fakhri, Director of AMD EMEA Component Channel

PCR’s October interview with AMD’s Omar Fakhri, Director

Omar Fakhri, Director of AMD EMEA Component Channel explores the overall hardware market and what steps he is taking to strengthen AMD’s relationships with channel partners and integrators.

Omar Fakhri is the Director of AMD’s Component Channel in EMEA and has been with the company for more than eight years. His primary responsibility is managing the EMEA sales team and working with channel partners to help sell AMD CPUs and graphics cards across the region. We sat down with Omar to discuss the past 18 months, the current priorities of the business and his plans for the future.

What are AMD’s priorities for the remainder of 2021 and early 2022?
For context, our priority in 2020 was to accelerate AMD’s gaming business. The market was already expanding, which was great, but we wanted to achieve a bigger share within the market overall and especially at the premium end.

This was why AMD launched its AMD Ryzen 5000 Series desktop processors. This range is squarely aimed at the performance segment and gamers. The Ryzen 5000 Series are the fastest gaming processors on the market so having a technological edge like that makes it easier for us to take our story to the market proactively.

In 2020 we were also focused on our ‘AAA’ strategy, which means working with our system integration partners to enable systems with AMD graphics cards, AMD processors and AMD software into the market.

Another major priority for 2021 is the workstation market, with AMD Ryzen Threadripper and Threadripper Pro processors being the jewel in our crown in this segment. We believe we can make a significant difference to the quality of the user experience in this area as these products are specifically designed with creators, developers, and PC enthusiasts in mind. The AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro processor variants add enterprise-grade security and manageability.

As such, our top priorities for the remainder of 2021 are enthusiast gaming, AAA system integration and working closely with our partners, whether that’s in the consumer space, commercial SMB segment and high-end desktop/workstations. Now more than ever, we are incredibly focused on driving AMDs business into these market segments and continuing to offer support to the channel partners who specialise in them. It is going to be an exciting year.

Has the pandemic changed the market for hardware? What impact did lockdown have and are there other factors which have changed what consumers need from, and look for – in their IT?
At the start of 2020 we assumed that there would be some challenges ahead, as did many companies. The level of uncertainty around the pandemic was uncharted territory, but it quickly became evident that the demand for our products was accelerating. Last year was a very successful year for our business segment with so many consumers needing to quickly set up home offices and investing in new gaming equipment during lockdown. We quickly started to establish that the trend of “hybrid working” was emerging, with people working in the daytime and then using the same equipment for gaming or leisure during the evening.

Across AMD’s product lines and segments what are the long-term trends transforming the industry and what will their impact be?

We have seen a clear shift towards premium products, particularly in the gaming market. People are investing in more premium products and have that expectation of performance and product longevity that comes with a premium offering. We are seeing a similar transition for workstations. Companies and individual employees are starting to appreciate the impact of having better hardware on the work they do, and on their everyday experience.

Another significant trend we have seen is a shift to notebooks. The buying decision here is likely motivated by the view that the post-pandemic ‘new normal’ is going to involve much more flexible working, with a mix of working from home and on site, for the foreseeable future.

How has AMD factored customer priorities into the way it works with key partners such as OEMs and the channel?
Recently we made a change to what we call our ‘PPP incentive programme’ for channel partners. We re-engineered the programmes, so they were considerably easier to understand and presented further transparency to our customers. This eliminated complexity and streamlined the programme for our channel partners and enabled them to plan ahead in uncertain times, with a clear idea of the profit margin they would be able to put back into their own business.

What is AMD’s strategy for pushing the adoption of its technologies?
When it comes to high performance, our products really do speak for themselves, with the recent Ryzen 5000 series processors being the fastest gaming CPUs in the world .

Great products and great awareness to the market goes hand in hand with our company vision to responsibly develop and deliver leading-edge technologies that enable a better world.

This is demonstrated perfectly in the workstation segment, where we have worked closely with OEMs and software vendors to ensure AMD products fit the needs of their users and that by upgrading to an AMD Threadripper system, they can see a measurable increase in performance.

Can you tell us anything about the roadmaps for AMD’s desktop and laptop CPUs and for its GPUs?
The “Zen 4” core is currently in design and is targeted to use advanced 5nm process technology.

AMD RDNA 2 Architecture is even more efficient than before with the introduction of AMD Infinity Cache, an all-new cache level that enables high bandwidth performance at low power and low latency. Leveraging the best high frequency approaches from “Zen” architecture, AMD Infinity Cache enables scalable performance for the future.

To what extent does OEM and ISV feedback play a role in the development of AMD products?
Working collaboratively with our partners is integral to everything we do and we work closely with gaming and software studios to ensure their titles are optimised to run on AMD hardware. For example, we recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of our GPUOpen initiative, which was started to provide code and documentation to allow PC developers to exert more control on the GPU, demonstrate a commitment to open-source software and to engage in a collaborative environment with the developer community.

How did the challenges differ across markets in 2020 and how difficult is it to get the right strategy for all markets in the age of COVID-19?
One thing that quickly became obvious in 2020 was that one strategy would not work equally across all markets. We are selling products in over fifty countries, and the business differs across regions as well as between segments.

During the second quarter of 2020, we saw a massive increase in demand for premium technology products in the established e-tail channels. However, in some of the emerging markets with less established online sales platforms we saw an initial slowdown, which was followed by a resurgence as they developed new platforms to support the increased level of demand.

What are you most proud of, from you and your colleagues’ work over the last 6-12 months?
I am just so proud of how well the team has adapted to this new world and kept working so hard throughout the pandemic. To be able to manage their personal life, their work life, and all the changes we’ve gone through together, is truly impressive. We are all also proud of the initiatives AMD has been involved in, such as the COVID HPC fund. On April 15, 2020, AMD announced the AMD COVID-19 HPC Fund to provide research institutions with computing resources to accelerate medical research on COVID-19 and other diseases.

As of April 15, 2021, 23 grantees across seven countries are benefitting from the fund, which has grown to $20M in total market value. With 12 petaflops of total supercomputing capacity awarded, the combined compute capacity donated through the AMD COVID-19 HPC Fund would rank among the fastest supercomputers in the world according to the most recent Top500 list.

What are you most excited about, that lies ahead in the next 12 months?

I am incredibly excited about having the ability to get face to face with our customers and to personally thank them for their continued partnership over the last few years. The opportunity to bring new products to the markets which builds on our ambitions across the numerous business segments. I’m especially excited about our diversification into the commercial and HEDT market segments and continuing our focus on the core gaming business through our Ryzen™ processor and Radeon™ graphics product lines.

If there is one thing that you want people to know or remember about AMD in 2020-21, what is it?

For me, the fact that the world’s best gaming processor is built by AMD. Nothing beats performance, and we are just getting started .

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