Advanced Micro Devices CEO Dirk Meyer sees cloud computing as the next great investment for the enterprises and says AMD's processors are going to be a big part of this type of future data center. Meyer also says AMD is passing on the increasingly popular smartphone market, but the chip maker is gearing up to offer its own platform for netbooks and mininotebooks.
CEO Dirk Meyer sees AMD
processors playing a significant role in helping to
shape the cloud computing data centers of tomorrow.
At the same time, Meyer
also says he believes that the cloud, along with virtualization technology,
offers the best ROI for cash-strapped businesses.
a Feb. 26 interview with eWEEK just before AMD spins off its manufacturing
facilities into a new business,
Meyer spoke about how cloud computing is
becoming more than a buzzword within the enterprise IT.
"Cloud computing is an idea that is starting to become more than an
idea," Meyer said during the interview.
"We are starting to see fairly big firms devote real money toward data
centers that are purpose-built to deliver applications over the Web," he
added. "I view that as a good opportunity for us to partner with some of
these customers and optimize what we do toward their needs alongside our
While AMD is working to make its
processors respond to the needs of cloud computing, Intel is also eager to see
its chips used in these types of data centers. Specifically, Intel
is touting some of the new features found in its "Nehalem"-based
as key innovations in realizing the dream of a cloud computing
In the interview, Meyer said virtualization at the chip level and power
efficiency remain cornerstones of cloud computing. Both Intel
and AMD plan to enhance the virtualization capabilities of their
microprocessors within the next year.
Specifically, both companies are looking
to allow for greater use of virtual memory and working on ways to create
In 2008, AMD
and Red Hat demonstrated the live migration of a virtual machine
AMD-based server to a system using an Intel chip.
"Really good virtualization performance is one thing and the other is
good power efficiency," Meyer said. "There is also the need for good
performance. At the end of the day, people forget that faster computers are
still important to have and faster ones are better than slow ones."
While AMD is investing in the cloud,
Meyer said the chip maker is not interested in investing in the popular
smartphone market at this time. However, AMD
does plan to move aggressively into the "netbook" and mininotebook
market dominated right now by Intel
and its Atom chip and platform.
The difficulty of moving into the smartphone market now, as Meyer sees it,
is that it's a space crowded with other
chip makers, including Samsung, Qualcomm and, soon, Intel.
recently sold off the handset division it inherited when it purchased ATI,
which means AMD does not have some essential pieces needed to offer a
compelling smartphone platform.
"We looked at the silicon suppliers there and we saw that there were a
lot of big players there, like Qualcomm, TI, Freescale [Semiconductor], Infineon
[Technologies] ... and it's a really crowded market space and it's tough to play
in that space if you don't have all of the IP," said Meyer. "We then
decided to let our handheld division be aggregated by selling it as opposed to
trying to purchase big companies to compete in that space. It's too crowded. I
like the space we're in and the competition is more limited."
However, Meyer did leave the door open to a future investment in
The other area of interest to AMD is
notebooks. At CES in January, AMD
rolled out its "Yukon" platform for use in new types of inexpensive
that would offer larger displays and more graphics capabilities than
netbooks and other types of mininotebooks such as the Asus Eee PC.
While AMD is not competing against the Intel
Atom processor right now, Meyer said his engineers are working on a platform
for notebooks called "Ontario,"
which will offer a counterweight to future Intel,
Nvidia and Via offerings.
Meyer did not say when the Ontario
platform would enter the netbook market.
"We saw those form factors on the horizon and explicitly decided not to
invest our R&D dollars ahead of the market," Meyer said. "We
decided to focus on the traditional desktop, server and notebook markets and
drew the line at netbooks a couple of years ago. Now, we do have netbooks in
our product development pipeline."