AMD Spins Off Processor Manufacturing Facilities to Better Compete with Intel

AMD is now offering details of on its much anticipated "asset smart" plan, which will allow the chip maker to spin off its processor manufacturing facilities into a new company. The plans will allow AMD to trim its payroll, concentrate on engineering and designing new processors and graphics chips for PCs and server systems, and allow AMD to better compete with Intel.

Advanced Micro Devices is finally detailing its long-talked-about "asset smart" plan, which will allow the chip maker to spin off its manufacturing facilities into a new company while allowing AMD to reduce its financial debt and better compete against Intel.

The new manufacturing company, which will be temporarily called "The Foundry Company," will be a joint venture between AMD and the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), a technology investment company founded in 2008 and owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.

AMD released some specifics of the new agreement and how The Foundry Company will operate during an Oct. 7 press conference. The deal to create the new company will close sometime in the early part of 2009. While the new manufacturing company will be a joint venture, it will retain a strong AMD presence, with Doug Grose, AMD's current senior vice president of manufacturing operations, becoming the CEO of The Foundry Company and Hector Ruiz stepping into the role of chairman of the board of the new company.

Ruiz stepped down as CEO of AMD after the company announced its second-quarter financial results. He will leave AMD when the new company is formed in 2009.

During a call with reporters and analysts, AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said the creation of the new company will be viewed as one of the most significant events in the history of AMD, while allowing the company to better compete against Intel. Now that AMD will no longer have to support its own fabs, the company's engineers can concentrate exclusively on CPU and graphics design and marketing.

"With this transaction, AMD is ensured access to leading-edge manufacturing process technologies without the capital expense requirements that come from owning a world-class manufacturing operation," said Meyer. "We can now intensify our focus on serving our customers as the only company capable of delivering both world-class CPU and graphics designs for next-generation computing and digital media platforms."

Under the agreement, the new company will take ownership of AMD's two fabrication plants, or fabs, in Dresden, Germany, where AMD's line of x86 processors are manufactured. For its part, ATIC will invest $2.1 billion to purchase a stake in The Foundry Company. Of the $2.1 billion, ATIC will invest $1.4 billion directly in the new manufacturing company, with the remainder paid to AMD to purchase additional shares in The Foundry Company.

In addition to the cash investment, AMD will trim about 3,000 jobs from its payroll when those workers move over to The Foundry Company. Earlier this year, AMD announced that it would lay off about 10 percent of its work force.

The Foundry Company will then become the primary manufacturing facility for AMD. While this is a new company, AMD expects that its research and development relationship with IBM will remain the same. The new company will also become part of IBM's partnership to develop new types of processor technology.