By Noel Randewich
LAS VEGAS Jan 8 A senior executive at Advanced
Micro Devices said the chipmaker's plan to expand beyond
the struggling PC market has involved a difficult shift in
company culture but is well under way.
Lisa Su, AMD's Senior Vice President and General Manager of
Global Business Units, told Reuters at the Consumer Electronics
show in Las Vegas that veteran engineers who for years have
specialized in designing PC chips based on Intel's "x86"
architecture are warming to new ways of doing things.
Su joined AMD as part of a new management team hired by CEO
Rory Read, who came from PC maker Lenovo in 2011 promising to
make the chipmaker more efficient.
She previously worked on embedded chips at Freescale
Semiconductor and IBM, and she has been
described on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley as one of AMD's
most promising executives.
Su said her lack of experience in PCs, the source of 80
percent of AMD's business, has been an asset in developing new
"I'm a big believer in using the best IP for a given
application. It's because I'm not a long-time AMDer," Su said.
"There is a mentality that if you're a long time AMDer that
we're x86, we know what we're doing and it's just about building
better x86 devices," she said. "Much of the transition over the
past year is that now we're a system-on-a-chip company. That's
the future and we'll deliver the best technology for our growth
A system on a chip, or SoC, is a chip that integrates
several features found in a computer into a single piece of
Like top chipmaker Intel, Sunnyvale,
California-based AMD was caught flat-footed in recent years with
the emergence and fast growth of mobile devices, which led to an
unexpected slump in the PC industry.
But while Intel has deep pockets to fund research on new
products to catch up, AMD faces declining cash flows and a more
modest balance sheet.
One of Silicon Valley's oldest chipmakers, AMD has laid off
engineers and some analysts are concerned it may not find new
markets for its chips in time to reverse a declining cash
"We spent a couple of months in the summer as the PC market
was taking its very tumultuous reset as a team thinking, what do
we want to be when we grow up? It was very much an introspective
period of time," Su said.
The result was AMD's plan to double down on new markets like
communications, servers and digital signs, and Su is seen as a
key executive to lead that transition.
In October, Read told analysts on a conference call he had
underestimated the speed of change in the PC industry and said
AMD would move quickly to focus on selling chips for
communications, industrial and gaming applications.
AMD recently announced it has licensed technology from
Britain's ARM Holdings and will use it to build low-power chips
Su said AMD's relationship would grow over time.