AMD Names Ex-Dell Exec to Run Server Chip Business

Forrest Norrod, who led Dell's server business, will now be in charge of AMD's x86 and ARM-based server chip unit.

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Forrest Norrod, the longtime Dell executive who until Oct. 1 oversaw that company's server business, will now be charged with helping Advanced Micro Devices improve the fortunes of its server, embedded and semi-custom chips business.

Norrod on Oct. 27 was named senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom (EESC) business group, which includes the vendor's Opteron server chips, semi-custom processors like those used in popular game consoles from Microsoft (Xbox One) and Sony (PlayStation 4) and burgeoning ARM-based system-on-a-chip (SoC) efforts.

It's a position that Lisa Su has held since July. In the position, Norrod will report to Su, who this month was named CEO of AMD.

Before serving as vice president and general manager of Dell's server business, the 49-year-old Norrod helped build the vendor's Data Center Solutions unit, which focused on products for the hyperscale data center space. He also held a variety of other roles before that.

As head of Dell's server business, Norrod also was responsible for the development of several ARM-based platforms—including "Copper" and "Zinc"—though earlier this year he questioned the demand for ARM in the data center and whether ARM and its chip-making partners—including AMD, Applied Micro and Marvell Technologies—took too long to get products to market. AMD has developed an ARM-based server chip, the Opteron A1100 "Seattle" processor, and plans to expand its portfolio.

ARM-based servers are part of a larger effort by AMD to diversify its offerings and reduce its reliance on chips for the PC market. Its most successful initiative to date has been in the gaming console space, which helped bring AMD back to profitability in recent quarters.

However, AMD still trails longtime and larger rival Intel in the server chip market.

The hiring of Norrod is the latest change to AMD's executive team. Most recently, AMD surprised the industry Oct. 18 when it announced that Rory Read, who came to AMD in 2011, was stepping down as CEO, to be replaced by Su. The new CEO said she was looking to Norrod to grow the server chip business.

"Forrest is an industry veteran whose strong track record of establishing and growing businesses strengthens our leadership team," Su said in a statement. "Forrest's unique combination of engineering, business management and technical expertise at both the chip and system level make him ideally suited to lead AMD into an expanded set of markets where our differentiated technology assets provide a competitive advantage."