Interview: AMD

AMD tells PCR about its plans for the future
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Helen French met up with Bertrand Coquard, Director Component Channel EMEA at AMD, to talk about how the firm is serving retailers, and its plans for the year 2015.

When PCR meets with AMD’s Bertrand Coquard, he’s upbeat and confident about the direction the chip firm is heading in. “We recently took on a new CEO [Rory Read, previously at Lenovo], so we’ve been looking to where we want to go. One of the key things is to make sure we’re delivering on a consistent basis.”

AMD is currently focusing on its APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit), still a relatively new product to the market. APUs combine the strengths of both CPUs and GPUs, and it’s an area where AMD feels it excels.

Coquard says: “We want to make sure people are getting as much experience from their system as they can. The CPU is not everything. It’s might be a bit like your brain, but if you’re missing your arms and legs you can’t do as much with it. This is where we are with the APU, we try to offer the best experience.

“And it’s not just about gaming, people are using a lot of multimedia applications now which are graphics related. We want people to realise there is a new technology out there. Intel has the equivalent to APUs as well, but it only positions them as a CPU, perhaps because on graphics it is behind us. Retailers are facing huge competition themselves, squeezing them on pricing. Our products give a very good all-around performance, much better than the competition can do, and at a good price.”

The latest product is the A-Series APU, which is for mainstream and ultra-thin notebooks, alongside all-in-ones, desktops and more, codenamed ‘Trinity’, and the firm knows it is vitally important to get the marketing to the channel right. “We’re adding an extended
sales force and merchandisers to go and speak to all the smaller retailers, and knock on the door and talk to them about the new technology. They’ll introduce the A-Series, and show that it can go faster than the competition. We will also be extending our Fusion Partner Programme to make it easier than ever for indies to get training and information, as well as doing more calls, and even roadshows.”

PCR mentions the speculation that AMD is leaving the battleground for high-end CPUs to Intel, but Coquard is quick to dismiss it. He argues that the firm is still developing in this area – citing products such as the 16-core Opteron server chips. The conversation soon turns to what lies further down the road.

“By 2015 the market is going to change. The experience on the computer is changing, the desktop is now more focused on the business/office sectors. For consumers, or even businesses such as hotels and restaurants, the focus is on mobile or very discreet small form factor devices. Everything will become smaller and with less power consumption.

“One of the first messages our new CEO brought to the company was about our strategy going forward. For example, there is a lot of debate about the different ways to build a PC – such as x86 vs ARM. Do we go with one or the other? We decided that we needed an ambidextrous strategy and to look at both in exactly the same way as with our APU technology. We have APUs that combine CPU and GPU technology, and we also do just CPUs and just GPUs. We want to be very flexible and agile.”

It seems logical to start planning ahead like this. Firms that focus purely on what is happening now are surely in danger of falling behind if they forget about the next stage and about the years ahead.

Coquard agrees: “Some people put all their eggs in one basket, which is risky when the market is changing. We are dominating on the graphics business, we are doing well in the CPU market, we acquired a new company [SeaMicro] because we want to grow in the cloud computing area. You have to make sure you are ready for the changes in the future.”

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