AMD Hires Nvidia Exec to Head Its Fusion Program

AMD has hired Nvidia Vice President Manju Hegde to head up its Fusion program, which aims to combine CPU and GPU functionality into a single chip, which AMD is calling an APU, or accelerated processing unit. Both AMD and Nvidia are pushing GPU technologies for general-purpose computing needs.

Advanced Micro Devices has hired away an executive from rival Nvidia to head up its efforts to combine CPU and graphics technologies in a single computing platform.

AMD on May 27 announced that Manju Hegde, Nvidia's vice president of CUDA technical marketing, will now be corporate vice president of its Fusion Experience program.

Hegde, whose job will be to find computing solutions and applications to take advantage of AMD's upcoming family of APU (accelerated processing units) that combine CPU and GPU capabilities, will report to Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Products Group.

"As Manju and his team work with the ecosystem to usher in a new era of visual computing, we expect a wide range of industry leaders to embrace the future of accelerated computing through the combination of the GPU and CPU-a combination only AMD can deliver with its AMD Fusion technology," Bergman said in a statement.

Click here to see how GPU technology is helping the HPC space.

The hiring of Hegde is a coup for AMD, which is competing with Nvidia in the growing push for using graphics chips for more mainstream computing workloads.

Nvidia began promoting the shift in 2006, when the company rolled out the CUDA architecture, which enables developers to use CPUs and GPUs simultaneously in a co-processing fashion. As a result, a growing number of applications are being developed that can take advantage of Nvidia's CUDA-based Tesla GPUs, according to company officials.

The trend is not only in the client area, but also in the HPC (high-performance computing) server space. For example, IBM is putting Nvidia's Tesla GPU into its iDataPlex server.

In a column April 29 in, Bill Dally, vice president and chief scientist at Nvidia, said that Moore's Law had reached its limit on CPUs, and could only continue through the use of parallel computing on GPU technologies.

AMD jumped into the graphics game with its $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI in 2006. Last year AMD officials announced they were merging their CPU and GPU businesses, saying that having both gives the company an advantage over rivals such as Nvidia and Intel.

The first of AMD's Fusion APUs-dubbed "Llano," is due to appear in 2011 as part of the "Sabine" laptop platform.

Intel is taking the path of increasing the graphics capabilities in its CPUs as a way to address the bulk of consumer and corporate graphics needs. Intel in December 2009 shelved its long-awaited "Larrabee" discrete graphics chip effort, citing development problems.

In a May 25 blog post, Intel spokesman Bill Kircos said the company will not release a discrete GPU anytime soon, though it is increasing the funding and manpower in the area of graphics.