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Ex-Broadcom, Intel Official to Head Up AMD's CPU Efforts

Nazar Zaidi, who most recently was vice president of engineering at Broadcom, will oversee AMD's development of CPUs and server SoCs.

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Advanced Micro Devices has a new executive with stints at Intel and Broadcom running its CPU and system-on-a-chip development.

The chip maker, which has a multi-year roadmap designed to bring the company back to financial health, has hired Nazar Zaidi as corporate vice president of AMD's Cores, Server SoC (systems-on-a-chip) and Systems IP Engineering (CSSE) group, which is part of the larger Technology and Engineering business unit. He will report to Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and CTO.

Zaidi's hiring comes six months after Jim Keller, who oversaw the development of the much-anticipated "Zen" CPU architecture, left AMD after his second stint with the company. Zaidi now will help oversee the continued development of Zen and the company's ARM-based server SoCs, as well as systems IP and compilers.

Zen is a cornerstone of the company's turnaround effort. The architecture was more than two years in development and will support simultaneous multi-threading (SMT)—a technology similar to Intel's Hyper-Threading—and DDR4 memory, and will feature a FinFET transistor design that will bring performance and efficiency improvements for the upcoming 14-nanometer chips. Zen will first appear in chips for desktop PCs later this year, and will ramp in servers in 2017, officials have said. The company already is working on the follow-on to Zen, which some officials last year referred to as "Zen+."

Zen is part of a larger effort by AMD officials to bring the company back to sustainable profitability that includes immersive computing—such as virtual reality—gaming and high-end PCs.

Zaidi brings with him 26 years of experience in the chip industry. Most recently, he spent more than three years as vice president of engineering at Broadcom, heading up the chip maker's development efforts around its 64-bit ARM-based SoC for servers. Zaidi came to Broadcom in February 2012 after the company bought NetLogic Microsystems for $3.7 billion. At the time, he was NetLogic's vice president of engineering for its communications processors.

Before that, he was the co-founder, vice president and general manager of the advanced processors business unit for RMI, which was bought by NetLogic in October 2009. He also co-founded—and served as COO and executive vice president of engineering and technology for—Nexsi Systems, a company that was bought by Juniper Networks in 2002.

Zaidi started his career as principal engineer at Intel, where he helped with the early development of the company's high-end Itanium server processors and also worked on the Pentium architecture.